Right place

Two pagoda dogwoods (Cornus alternifolia, below) are blessed by a glimpse of sunlight at high noon, but bright shade (at least as I categorize it) thereafter. I wonder if this is their best place. Both are planted too close to stone paths to account for their eventual growth, but what else is new, and this can be managed, or at least this is what I tell my wife who is perpetually concerned as the paths shrink in size.

References consulted prior to planting recommend planting in full sun, but others suggest the pagoda dogwood as an understory tree. Having few suitable full sun areas, I accept the understory recommendation, and hope that the somewhat damp soils in both areas are suitable.

I was comforted in late spring upon seeing a group of native pagoda dogwoods along a shaded mountain trail. There is no better confirmation than witnessing a plant in its native habitat, and I suspect these have been shaded for years, so mine should be happy with their limited sunlight.

Many plants are not so picky with slight variations in sunlight exposure, or differences in soil moisture, but judging by our more common native dogwood (Cornus florida) there was reason for a more cautious site selection. One location was determined, unfortunately, by the unexplained loss of a red flowered paperbush (Edgeworthia chrysantha ‘Akebono’).

Seeing the prodigious growth of the garden’s yellow flowered paperbushes, the assistant gardener (my wife) was somewhat justified when she objected to its close placement to a stone path. Now, this is no concern, and again I will argue that the layered branching of the pagoda dogwood is splendidly suited for limbing up to walk under. Perhaps a slight stoop will be necessary.

Two dark leafed crape myrtles were planted a year ago in open spaces in the lower, rear garden. Here, there is full sun to suit the trees, but also overly damp ground that is a question. There are few sunny spaces available without abandoning the remaining small areas of lawn (clover), and this area at the low end of the garden has undergone a complete renovation as long established holly and witch hazel perished in the dampness.

The quick growing mass of the crape myrtle, and particularly ones with very dark foliage will be ideal if the dampness is tolerated. The two introductions from the new Thunderstruck series are a trial, though the breeder now informs me that he has moved past ‘Rumblin’ Red’ and ‘Purple Light’ (above) to superior selections. A wet winter and early spring did not deter the two quite puny crape myrtles that have grown several feet into early summer, so I become more confidant by the week that this will be the right place for the two trees.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Good information and I always read your blogs and find the correct information. Thanks for sharing.

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