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. Bob Scherer says:

    You can’t toss out anything connected to Jim & Conni Cross!
    Their gardens were wonderful & the little Tea House for their daughter was a treasure.
    Long ago memories of a visit there.

  2. wkeithscott says:

    HI Margaret: Please keep it, an walk-by neighbour has tri in form planted. frontal home, here in TO/On, Canada, and I luv it, both for privacy on an there busier street. But, as well I partial to it’s white magnicent multi flower, whewreas our favourite spring Trillium here, a bit reminder, gaining an extra petal, in balance.
    Only recently have I opened up by accident an spot in an full garden urban plot, 50×200′, this is my #1 choice, already I’m sentimental over an high priority, for these reason’s, it may be #1, for me. ‘Perhap’s’, my Canuck Weeping, Kousa dogwood, Trill..I. Absolutely, the most outstanding bush I’ve seen. To-day is spc. trip buy day for this, priority. Thanx, for the lead-in, for my ‘outback’.! + k

  3. Darlene Arnold says:

    It is gorgeous, with great contrast against the building. What Zone are you in?
    Any suggestions for dogwoods in zone 9, central California or is it to hot and dry here. I moved down from Washington state over a year ago, where dogwoods do great! Love your site keep up the great work.

      1. margaret says:

        I only remove suckers at the base (it’s grafted) and any vertical shoot up above that don’t follow the general contours of the weeping form — almost like water sprouts.

  4. Kathy Oburg says:

    I love it & it looks great with the new wall. The flowers are so crisp & beautiful. Can’t imagine getting rid of it.

  5. Theresa Trimilove says:

    I absolutely love it…in fact, I have one that I am moving today to different area of yard. I have seen fully grow beautiful ones, a fed those not so beautiful, so, as with my all my other small trees, I only let them get as tall as my pruning pole will reach and feed them…with proper pruning, and keeping them small where you have it planted, I believe it will bring you so much beauty…I think it’s all about a hours worth of proper care…as with any species of dogwood, but this one, hands down, is the most beautiful. It looks great with the wall…I would keep snipping it in winter, or when dormant, to force shoots from the top. Then I would maintain size to 8 feet or so. It will be gorgeous. I am glad you kept it…small snips can go along way to making it even more beautiful…just when dormant though..safer. ☺️

  6. Theresa Trimilove says:

    In fact, looking at it, I would prune out all crossing branches, like the one middle right of tree to prevent rubbing and damage to bark which may let those pests in, and I woulda prune out those two empty branches on top to force better covered shoots, though prune out all straight up in the air strait shoots if they don’t weep…but not leader if you want it taller (unless if is really disproportional to the rest of the tree and you want it fuller…that is, if you want it the same size, then the leader (few brances) on top could be cut back. I would mark with small ribbon those wayward shoots on the bottom sides, to shape it a bit more later. Good luck…again, it is a beautiful tree, except for some tender loving care and attention to gentle, gradua, sparse pruning here and there.

    1. margaret says:

      Very funny, Ralph. I’ve grown accustomed to it after friends urged me to learn to love it, and so it’s still here and bigger than ever!

  7. Meaghan says:

    Oh it’s so gorgeous!!! Thank you for sharing- I just purchased a graft of this as well. Any tips or tricks you’ve found in lending to its growing success would be appreciated!!

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