last updated 21/01/2022

CORNUS alternifolia 'Argentea'
This is a truly wonderful large shrub or small tree. Although closely related, and in some ways similar, this should not be confused with the "Wedding Cake Tree". This one is smaller growing and the green leaves, brightly edged with creamy white are also smaller. Flat panicles of white flowers are produced in May on both, though these are smaller as befits the stature of the plant. It will have an incredibly beautiful layered habit as it develops, although this will grow out at maturity, when it will be 3-4m. They are incredibly tolerant of pruning, so it is certainly possible to remove the lower growth to create a more "tree-shaped" silhouette, or to thin out future upright growth in order to emphasise the layered habit. We have found that the older root-balled specimens, from the open ground and accustomed to being outside, establish brilliantly, even on heavy soil, really benefiting from the greater maturity and substance. Usefully, they are rarely damaged by late frost. However, they can be slow to get going when young and small, so I would strongly recommend starting with a larger plant.
See it in our gardens.

CORNUS alternifolia 'Brunette' 
All selections of C. alternifolia share the potential to develop the characteristic elegant, layered habit. Nevertheless, there is incredible variation in leaf colour and vigour, giving rise to a rich variety of effects that can be achieved in this diverse genus.
'Brunette' is one of the naturally more compact selections with darker purple-brown stems giving the potential for wonderful colour contrast with other planting in winter. The dark green leaves often show a paler margin, giving them a slightly wavy edge. New growth in the spring is tinted purplish red, reflecting the pigmentation of the stems.

CORNUS alternifolia 'Goldfinch' 
This unusual selection boasts golden yellow variegation instead of the more common creamy white. It shares the characteristics of the species in all other respects.

CORNUS alternifolia 'Illusion' 
The variegation on this one is much less regular, manifesting itself as blotches and splashes of shades of gold and chartreuse. The young growth is a lovely orangey colour. this is particularly effective later in the season when it really glows on a sunny day, amongst the yellows and greens of the more mature foliage. We have found that this selection has surprisingly good vigour given its variegation.

CORNUS alternifolia 'Moonlight'
This American selection is similar to the well-known 'Argentea' in that the dominant colour is provided by the creamy white variegation. However, this one has richer pink tints through the young growth particularly, and a flush through older foliage, though this latter effect can be dependant on light levels and growing conditions. 

CORNUS alternifolia 'Silver Giant' 
Our own introduction, this plant is rather exciting. Occurring as a sport on a Cornus alternifolia 'Argentea', the variegation is much more subtle. The central portion is an almost greyish green, whilst the margin is a silvery white. This lesser variegation makes it blend in better with a more natural setting, whilst also giving it more vigour. Thus it is a jolly good garden plant which seems very tolerant of most situations. 
See it above our Quarry Garden

CORNUS alternifolia 'Winter Surprise'
Another of our own introductions! This one has amazing golden-coral coloured stems in winter (nearly as good as the fabled stem Cornus) yet with the wonderful tiered habit of this species. The foliage is almost green, but it is illuminated by the subtlest of golden variegation, according to light and fertiliser levels. Rarely available.

CORNUS alternifolia 'Yellow Spring'
This is very similar to C. alternifolia 'Illusion', displaying similar orangey young growth over yellow flushed variegation. This type of variegation tends not to be very consistent, so there are a number of possible foliage effects for both cultivars, which makes it even more confusing!

CORNUS controversa 'Candlelight'
And now we're onto C. controversa, the larger and typically more "tree-like" of these two species. This cultivar has surprising bright yellow new growth in the spring, which mellows to green through the summer. Although we currently have a plant of this in the collection here, we rarely propagate it, so it is rarely available.

CORNUS controversa 'Laska'
This on the other hand, is a fabulous plant. Although retaining the characteristic layered habit of the species, this selection is more compact. All things are relative though, which means that this is the perfect size for the average garden, developing a wonderfully architectural habit. A perfect centrepiece. The foliage is also interesting and distinctive, with much narrower lobes adding to the overall elegance of this lovely tree, culminating in bright yellow autumn colour.
See it in our Woodland Walk.

CORNUS controversa 'Lucia'
This is another worthy more recent addition to our collection and range. Also developing the layered habit as you would expect, the surprising feature of this cultivar is the bright orange-red colour of the young bark. The young foliage has a subtle yellow centre to otherwise rich green leaves, though this is more apparent in some growing conditions (ie light and nutrient levels) than others. Typically this one seems to make a narrower tree than the typical variegated form, though still attaining good height.

CORNUS controversa 'Pagoda'
A named, grafted green-leaved selection which will therefore form the traditional layered habit from a much younger age than it does when grown from seed. It is typical for it not to produce a dominant leader, but to develop into a broad, spreading tree.

CORNUS controversa 'Troya Dwarf' 
Of course most cultivars of this species have the potential to become "proper" trees (given long enough!) but this one is definitely different, instead growing very slowly with a shrubby habit. The young foliage is a handsome pinky-chocolate colour. Although it is fun to have this cultivar in the collection, it is so slow growing that we rarely propagate it, so it is seldom available.

CORNUS controversa 'Variegata' 
The well known "Wedding Cake Tree" is a beautiful small tree with well defined layered branches, striking creamy margined leaves and red young stems. The flat panicles of white flowers in May and the resultant berries just add to its attraction. Lovely pink and red shades of autumn colour. Notoriously slow to grow away as a small young plant, this establishes so much better from a more substantial open ground specimen such as those we offer.
See it in our Gardens.

CORNUS controversa 'Variegata Frans Type' 
This distinct form originated in Northern France. The leaves are a more grey green than the more common form and the cream margin rather narrower, giving a slightly more subtle variegation. This results in a more vigorous and robust constitution and is therefore better suited to less ideal sites. Other features are the same.

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