Sadly, locating the garden’s newest acquisition, the evergreen ‘Empress of China’ dogwood (Cornus elliptica ‘Elsbry’, below), was not difficult. The tree was purchased assuming that it would be shoehorned into some marginally acceptable spot, which is perfectly acceptable practice in this garden. Two Pagoda dogwoods planted earlier in the year were fit perfectly to stand above lower layers of perennials, but in a long established garden the need to add plants is sometimes more difficult.
But, as the garden was scanned for potential planting sites, a small Siebold magnolia that dropped its last leaf prematurely in September was noticed. Closer examination revealed that the magnolia had perished, with checks for live wood down to the roots showing only brown. I was disappointed, but satisfied that this spot would be ideal for the dogwood.
Again, I must mention my dislike for planting tiny trees that I so often murder through lack of attention. Larger trees, potted or dug and burlapped, have proven to be a better investment, and this dogwood grown in a fifteen gallon container should require little care, though at greater initial expense. Also, while this tree is barely chest high, it will show more quickly than the dearly departed Siebold magnolia that I was ecstatic to find a year ago.
The flower and growth of ‘Empress of China’ are similar to Chinese dogwood (Cornus kousa), and this small tree is loaded with flower buds that are likely to cover the evergreen leaves with white blooms in late spring. It is disappointing to lose the magnolia, but this evergreen dogwood is a wonderful addition to the garden.