STUNNING is a word that comes to mind with many trees and shrubs when in flower and the deciduous dogwood ranks as one of the best.Of these, Cornus florida is possibly the most popular. Although it may surprise even long-time gardeners there are at least 60 varieties of dogwood, ranging from deciduous to evergreen varieties across the globe from Asia to North America.
The Cornus florida is a large shrub (or small tree) that was brought into cultivation in 1730 and the Royal Horticultural Society bestowed its prestigious Award of Merit in 1951, always a guarantee of plant excellence. Each of its flower heads has four conspicuous white bracts, rather than petals. The most popular is the pink-flowering Cornus florida “Apple Blossom” (pictured here in a Griffith garden I saw last week). In autumn, it develops a stunning, rich leaf colour.CORNUS capitata is one of the most interesting evergreen dogwoods that grow well in this area. It is indigenous to the Himalaya and introduced into Western gardens by the early plant hunters in 1822.
The RHS gave it the Award of Garden Merit in 1922 for its flowers and, unusually, again in 1974 for its fruit.
The sulphur-coloured bracts over several weeks gradually change to pale lime-green and then to a bronze-pink. The fruit is almost identical to pale red strawberries.
However, I don’t recommend deciduous dogwoods for an exposed garden in new suburbs. They need protection from hot summer winds and should be planted among well-established trees and shrubs to ensure adequate protection from the elements.
SPIRAEA was a popular shrub in the early gardens of Canberra as an individual shrub or a hedgerow. Also known as the May Bush, it is still popular today if the prolific mass of white flowers, resembling freshly fallen snow, seen in gardens at present is any guide.
One popular variety is Spiraea “Anthony Waterer”, raised at Waterer’s Knap Hill Nursery in England, which I visited when it was celebrating its 200th anniversary.
In my original 1894 edition of “The Garden” journal, the nursery announces: “In reply to the many inquiries and intending purchasers of our new release S. ‘Anthony Waterer’, I beg respectfully to say that it will not be distributed until November, 1894”. Such wonderfully quaint language.THE Horticultural Society’s Iris, Rhododendron and Azalea Show is at the Wesley Church Centre, National Circuit, Forrest, on Saturday, October 26, from noon to 5pm, and Sunday, October 27, 11.30am-3.45pm.
Following a mild winter, these plants will be looking even more spectacular. There will be potted plants, plus floral art and the popular plant stall with all plants grown by members. Light refreshments available and the show is free.
More information at hsoc.org.au
FOR a great day out in the beautiful Southern Highlands, visit the Bundanoon Garden Ramble on October 26-27. Eight gardens will be open, plus garden workshops and guest garden speakers. Tickets from the Bundanoon Soldiers’ Memorial Hall.
More information at 4883 7812 or bundanoongardenramble.org.au
- Orchids do not like to be divided too often, but now is a good time.
- With continuing nights close to frosts, it is still too early to plant tomatoes in the garden.
- Transplant broccoli, cabbage, celery, lettuce and spinach seedlings.
- Plant dahlia tubers. First, dig in well-aged compost or cow manure. To prevent damage to tubers, put stakes in first for taller varieties.
- Do an environmental weed check on the whole garden, especially newly germinating privet seeds and ivy. Not sure which are environmental weeds? Collect the ACT Government’s list “Are your weeds going bush?” from the nearest shopfront.