Variegated Dogwood Hedging – Cornus Controversa Variegata
Cornus controversa Variegata, often referred to as the Variegated Dogwood or the Wedding Cake Tree, is a unique, deciduous shrub or small tree, native to East Asia. Celebrated for its distinctive, tiered habit and beautifully variegated leaves, it provides a stunning, architectural feature in any garden.
Description and Characteristics
The Variegated Dogwood displays dark green leaves with bright, creamy white edges, offering a delightful contrast. These leaves turn a subtle, purplish-red in the autumn before falling off to reveal the plant’s signature, horizontally-tiered branches.
As a hedge, it usually grows to a height of 3-4 metres (10-13 feet) but can reach up to 8 metres (26 feet) if left to grow freely as a tree. With a moderate growth rate, gaining approximately 30-45cm (12-18 inches) annually, a well-maintained Variegated Dogwood can live up to 50 years or more.
Flowering, Berries, and Reproduction
In late spring to early summer, the Variegated Dogwood produces clusters of small, cream-white flowers. The flowers are predominantly insect-pollinated and mature into black, berry-like drupes by late summer. Each drupe contains a single seed, which is spread by birds that eat the berries.
Benefits to Wildlife
The flowers of the Variegated Dogwood provide a valuable nectar source for bees and other insects, while the berries are an essential food resource for birds in late summer. Its dense growth habit also offers shelter and nesting opportunities for various birds.
Ideal for British Gardens
The Variegated Dogwood makes an exceptional addition to British gardens due to its striking appearance and year-round interest. The elegant, tiered growth habit and variegated foliage bring a unique visual interest, and it can serve as a focal point in any garden design.
The plant thrives in a variety of soils and can handle both full sun and partial shade. It’s tolerant of hard pruning, making it suitable for hedging, but also grows well as a standalone specimen tree. Its wildlife-friendly nature makes it an ideal choice for biodiversity-focused garden designs.
Distribution in the UK
Although the Variegated Dogwood is not a native species, it’s been widely cultivated across the UK due to its attractive features. It can be commonly found in parks and gardens, where it adds an appealing touch of architectural structure.
In conclusion, the Variegated Dogwood, with its unique architectural form, beautiful variegated foliage, wildlife benefits, and adaptability, is an excellent choice for a range of British garden designs. Whether you wish to create a garden with a stunning focal point, a wildlife-friendly space, or need a versatile hedging plant, Cornus controversa Variegata is a perfect choice.