weeping kousa: does it stay, or go?

weeping-kousaSOMETIMES HAVING EXPERT FRIENDS just makes your head spin, instead of adding clarity or bringing resolution. That’s certainly been the case this season on the topic of my weeping Kousa dogwood, which everybody has a strong point of view about…but nobody agrees. Does it stay, or go? Can you help us?

I have a number of Kousa dogwoods, or Cornus kousa, a species native to Japan, China and Korea that’s been in cultivation since Victorian times. I’m sure you know it; besides later, larger flowers than our native C. florida, it has larger fruit and good fall color (so does the American). The Kousa’s bark gets handsome as it matures, peeling in the nicest camouflage pattern, and the tree seems virtually disease-resistant, especially compared to the American with its susceptiblity to anthracnose fungus. But I digress from the beauty-contest at hand.

Here’s the thing: I’ve never liked the plant, named C.k. ‘Lustgarten Weeping,’ which I’ve grown from a tiny grafted creature of mere twig-like proportion I bought from Dan Hinkley maybe a decade ago, to its current 9-foot spread and 5-foot height. Every year I mean to toss it out. Really.

This spring, expert friends pointed at it and said, “When will you get rid of that thing?” and so I called a nurseryman friend to come and take it as a gift, to sell to someone else perhaps. He was busy, and delayed.

Last weekend other expert friends were having supper in the yard and pointed at it and said, “Gosh, when did that get put in? It’s beautiful.”

A quick call to the nurseryman friend averted disaster, or did it? And now that this has come up as a bigger decision than just “Come take it away,” I’ve done some reading and recalled that ‘Lustgarten Weeping’ was selected by the late Jim Cross of Environmentals Nursery on Long Island, someone I knew and admired. I think that’s why I ordered it in the first place, thinking of Jim.

So now I really am in a mess. What do we all think of weeping kousas (or weeping trees in general)? Should it stay or should it go? The polls are now open: Dial (#@$) %CX-&*XH on your mobile phones or Text %&#…no, wait, wrong competition, so just register your vote by hitting COMMENT.

UPDATE 6/26: The mason has been at it, and the kousa now has a retaining wall on the downhill side of its domain, mostly complete (photo below). More to come…but progress. I am feeling optimistic about having it with me for a good long time, I think. Agreed?


Categoriestrees & shrubs
  1. Dorita says:

    Here I am, your pal Dorita the accidental gardener, and I say keep the kousa! But should you decide not to, then send it to my office where it will surely bloom all year long, like my Azaleas From Outer Space. The azalea plants are full of gorgeous hot pink blooms right now, and I will follow your instructions and repot them if they ever actually go dormant. I love reading everything on this wonderful website, especially the woo-woo! XXX

  2. margaret says:

    Welcome, Dorita. And yes, your azaleas (blooming 23 floors above Manhattan terra firma on a radiator-clad windowsill, year in and out) are indeed from Outer Space. Glad you like the woo-woo…we could profile your azaleas there!

  3. margaret says:

    Welcome Chzplz (love that phonetic name of yours). The funniest thing is that now that he stone wall is going in, and the spot being reshaped so drastically from how it was when the former tree stood nearby, I am really starting to grow attached. I will upload some photos of how it’s coming…in between rainstorms.

  4. chzplz says:

    I love it. But – I also recognize that my opinions rarely change on this kind of thing, so I probably would never grow to like it.

    Since you say you’ve never liked it, let it go to someone who will.

  5. Karen T says:

    Late to the party, but —

    I always think “want” is a very clear and undeniable emotion. Anytime I’m asking myself whether I want/like something (be it a plant or a sweater) I remind myself the very question is evidence that I don’t. If I WANTED it, there’d be nothing for me to dabate with myself.

    But 55 comments and a few days of progress later, Margaret, it looks like your reluctance to let it go might also be meaningful.

    I say if you’ve decided, with its revised setting, that you like it after all, then by all means keep it. But if you find yourself still wondering, then you simply don’t want it, and would be better off giving it to someone who does and replacing it with something your heart truly desires.

  6. amy says:

    It’s a keeper, but it needs a friend, a companion to balance its unique personality. Like a good marriage, it needs something else to be a supporter of its qualities. It is like a demure bride, lowering her eyes to show off the beauty of her intricate lace. What she needs is a strong spring groom to stand behind her, one which balances her demure demeanor, one which reaches outward with broad shoulders and a strong foundation. Eastern redbud, perhaps?

  7. margaret says:

    Welcome, Phillip, and yes, you are right, on both counts. Nothing wrong with the tree, and nothing wrong with likes and dislikes. Buit I am now growing to like the damn thing thanks to seeing it through all of your collective eyes!

  8. Phillip says:

    My objecttive opinion of this tree – without seeing it in context – is that there is really nothing not to like about it…but if you don’t like it, get rid of it. When something in my garden doesn’t satisfy me after a couple of seasons, out it goes. Give it to me! I can come get it next weekend.

  9. margaret says:

    Welcome, Veneda. Thanks for visiting. The kousa and I are still here working on our relationship, which is improving with all this good counseling!

  10. Veneda Harris says:

    Well you missed a perfect opportunity when your expert friend said“Gosh, when did that get put in? It’s beautiful.”
    when you could have just passed them the shovel !
    Personally I always say your garden is your own sanctuary and should reflect and contain only things you trasure and love so …. dig it up put it in a big pot on your front yard with a notice … FREE TO LOVING HOME :-)

  11. I have never been fond of this tree. Why have an overdesigned Kousa when one can have a far-more-delicate and airy true dogwood? Plus the excess of white always makes me think of high-school students and toilet-papering pranks.

  12. margaret says:

    Hi, Lusi, and welcome to A Way to Garden. I am happy to “meet” someone else who is growing the plant, and two in fact. Mine was tiny when I planted it, and you are right: it looks good now that it is enshrined with the wall and such. I am thinking about how to plant the adjacent area so soon maybe I will post more photos.

  13. Lusi says:

    I say keep them if you have the space. I have 2 of them tucked into a woodland border garden within a 50 acre property. They are almost 3yrs old and still quite small. I can’t wait for them to look like yours! And I agree with Betty, it look great with the new wall.

  14. Linda Pastorino says:

    I saw this in your garden a year ago and thought it was like a bonsai version of larger ones I had seen. I loved it and photographed it. It looks lonely up there. I’m sure on the next visit it will have some friends.

  15. margaret says:

    Welcome, Sharon. It is still here, yes, and soon I will write about the way it all came together. If it is a ‘Lusgarten Weeping,’ then it will take some cleaning up of stray branches here and there throughout its life, but I’d be careful not to make judgments too early, before it really expresses itself, especially with major branches. I take off the sort of “water sprout” things when they appear at a 90-degree angle from main branches, but haven’t cut out major parts of the plant. How small is small?

  16. Sharon says:

    I hope the decision to keep it — you did keep it, didn’t you? — has worked out well. Can you tell me at what point it actually started “weeping”? I have a small plant with some weeping branches and some shooting straight up. Don’t know if I should prune the straight-up ones our or leave them alone to weep later.

  17. Sharon says:

    Looks like your Kousa has graciously accepted its new surroundings, perhaps in gratitude it still HAS surroundings.. . .

    I took a picture of my Kousa, but forgot to download it before sending my camera to my husband in Iraq (his broke). The height of the weeping plant is only about 18 – 24″ tall, with these long sprouts shooting up to about 48″. I suspect they are water sprouts, but wasn’t sure. I’m thinking I should trim them out before dormancy breaks in the spring.

    Stay warm!

  18. Chloe says:

    I assume that the weeping kousa is still “planted”, well a little late on the scene here but nevertheless I would keep her. I agree that too many weepers will make your landscape look a little like disneyland, however a focal point here and there to rest the eye is always a surprise. THAT is what I would call your weeping Kousa. A pleasant surprise. Weeping Kousas are not the typical plant you find everywhere. Its a tribute to a dear friend and I love the sentiment. As far as the white flowers loosing their luster, perhaps so with other dogwoods. However, the Kousa gets their leaves first and those leaves are the perfect backdrop for the profuse clusters of creamy white.
    I heart your tree.

  19. Debra says:

    Do you really care what others think about “The Kousa” to the point you’d dig it up if the vote was it should go? “What do you think of tree?” is the question you need to ask yourself. Seams as thought destiny has kept it there for a reason. And remember Beauty is in the eye of the beholder!!!! The wall is amazing!!

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Debra. The plant is still there, lo these many years later. :) I have been really happy with the wall and now the terrace below it, so I am actually grateful to the plant that shaped a big part of the garden the last few years inadvertently. My doubt about the kousa (and then a pine tree that fell nearby) made me rethink the spot completely for the better. See you soon again.

  20. Wendy says:

    I think it is beautiful Margaret, You seem to have some doubts so I would KEEP it then there will be no regrets,

  21. alicia sinkule says:

    Not only should you keep it, but now you’ve inspired me to find one. Will it handle south Georgia summers-zone 8? Thanks!

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