Kousa Dogwoods - Two Planted For Espalier - September 2023

Kousa Dogwoods Espalier Planting - Shade Tolerant Trees - Zone 5B

Fall planting is here.  At least...for me it is.  I have two real gardening/planting seasons:  Spring - when I can't help myself and get busy in the garden/at the garden center/at the Morton Sale.  And then Fall - when I divide and transplant and buy things that go on end-of-season sales.  This is the first planting of that 'fall planting' period and is something that I've been thinking about for years.  And, finally did something about it.

I'm talking about the northside of our garage, where we get full shade and have a narrow, foundation bed that borders the bluestone chip path that leads to our backyard.  All the way back in 2018, I started posting about what to do with this area in terms of trees and shrubs.  There are really two parts that *could* be addressed.  First..against the house to sort-of soften-up the large, white, blank wall.  And, then (potentially) against the property line to provide a sense of 'privacy' or screening from the driveway next door.  

When I say full shade, I really mean full shade.  Our house blocks out most of the sun, so I've been thinking about/looking at various trees and shrubs that thrive in shade.  That's been a big part of the 'why' that I haven't planted anything.  The other part is that I had not found the *right* things to plant.  Last April (2022), I posted about dogwoods.  And how I thought they might work in this spot.  I also showed how the construction next door really revealed the big, blank, white wall that is the side of our garage.  I'm choosing to consider this an opportunity, not a problem.  

Here's a photo from that post in April 2022 that shows the big blank canvas:

A lot of space - in all directions but OUT - to fill up.  What does a guy do in a situation like this?  Find a couple of trees that can BOTH tolerate full shade AND...do well when they are trained in espalier.

This Summer, I narrowed-in on dogwoods for this spot.  I have a Pagoda Dogwood in the back - that's a native tree.  In that post, I talked about what I had learned about dogwoods - and their differences.  The most common dogwoods are either Kousa Dogwoods or Florida Dogwoods.   Those are the two that you see in nurseries around here.  I linked to this post that describes the differences.  Florida Dogwoods are the ones that have been around a while and are more common.  Kousas are newer.  And...better. Here's a blurb on Kousas:

Cornus kousa has gained more popularity over recent years, particularly because of its resistance to dogwood anthracnose. The kousa dogwood tends to have leaves that are a bit smaller than the leaves of the florida; also, the blossoms appear a little bit later in the spring and are somewhat smaller, with the white petals having a slightly greenish appearance. The kousa dogwood is somewhat more drought tolerant than the florida.

(emphasis, mine)

Kousa is more disease resistant and drought tolerant.  That's enough for me.  

But, I knew this info 18 months ago.  Why did I finally buy some Kousa Dogwoods?  Because I found a deal.  For $14.99 each, I brought home two very small Kousa Dogwoods.   Here they are below - showing a (mostly) upright form, some immature branching and thin trunks.  Dare I say....perfect for espalier.

 I dug a couple of holes - spaced five feet from each end and planted these two Kousa Dogwood trees right up against that big, blank, white wall.  Here, below is the first one going in:


That photo above is zoom'd in a bit.  When you step back and see how BIG the wall really is, it becomes clear that these trees have some growin'-to-do.  See below for a look at the first tree planted against the full height of the wall it can grow up/on:


I planted the other one - like I said - five feet from the fence corner.  Here are two photos - one closer and one further away showing the two new dogwood trees:

Kousa Dogwoods Espalier Planting - Shade Tolerant Trees - Zone 5B


I spent far too much time thinking about the espalier shape and erecting a structure to support the trees and train the limbs.  See below for the trellis-like thing that I put together and was planning on placing behind the trees.  


But...go look above at the trees when they are planted.  I was going to put this trellis right in the ground and start training the limbs immediately.  But, when you see the trees planted - in situ - it becomes clear (to me) that half of the branches that are currently emerging from the trunk are TOO LOW to be trained.  I'd say that the first 'level' of espalier'ing that I want to do is probably half-way-up the current height of the trees.  

Thus...for now, I've done nothing to them in terms of shaping and training.  I've learned that it is not a good idea to prune a tree this late in the season as it will stimulate some new growth that might not harden off prior to Winter.  So...for now...I'm leaving these things as-is.  I'll limb-them-up in late Winter/early Spring.  

In the coming weeks, I'll likely install the main post behind the trunk and attach the tree to it.  The branch training (and shape selection) can likely wait until next Spring.  I've done horizontal cordon with the Lindens.  And...so far....*just* horizontal with the crabapples on the other side of the house.  This one feels like it needs some angles. 

Of note, #9 on my 2023 to-do list was to keep working the espaliers.  I mentioned planting some in this spot.  So...done. And done. 

And...#21 on the list hits home here, too.  Espalier.  And a deal I couldn't resist ($14.99 for trees!)
21.  Plant trees.  But, think about another large caliper one.  Or...more interesting ones from Morton sale.  Don't get lured by the orange big box store varieties.  Unless they're for espalier or a deal you can't resist.  
2023 marks my seventh tree-planting season.

This is now the 13th and 14th tree planted (yes...calling two trees planted despite it being volunteers) of the year and 90th and 91st overall.  12 is the average I've maintained over the years.

We (now) have 65 of 91 trees that we've planted.   71.4% success rate over seven years.  

91 trees planted/7 growing seasons = 13 trees on average planted each season
65 trees alive/7 growing seasons = 9.28 trees on average survive each season.

Here's the full accounting:

2017 (9 planted. 4 Dead. 5 of the original annual total alive now):
1. Flowering Pear in backyard on north side.
2. Flowering Pear in front yard by garage. (LOST and replaced)
3. Japanese flowering cherry
4 and 5: 2 Lindens that I espalier'd and placed by the south fence line near our kitchen windows.
6. A Dawn Redwood from Earth Day 2017 (LOST and replaced)
7. Nat's Saucer Magnolia in our front yard
8. A Corkscrew Willow all the way in the back (LOST)
9. A Crimson King Norway Maple near the trampoline

2018 (17 planted. 6 Dead):
10. Another flowering pear from Earth Day 2018
11. Red Maple Sun Valley tree from Earth Day 2018.
12. Weeping Cedar tree - our first evergreen.  (LOST)
13. The weeping flowering cherry tree that the Babe planted for Earth Day 2018.
14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21. These Frans Fontaine Hornbeams
22. A replacement Chanticleer Pear tree (3" caliper) out front by our garage
23. Our second evergreen - a short Fraser Fir Christmas Tree out by the trampoline. (LOST)
24. This Canadian Hemlock that is the first of nine that our landscape plan calls for in the backyard. (LOST)
25. Our replanted/replacement Dawn Redwood. Same spot as the first.
26. This teeny-tiny Bald Cypress that I planted in the front yard, in between our driveway and our neighbor to the north.

2019 (9 planted.  5 Dead):
27, 28, 29.  A set of three small Canadian Hemlock Trees in our far backyard. (Two Lost)
30, 31, 32.  This second set of three small Canadian Hemlocks along the north fence line. (One Lost)
33.  My new Weeping White Spruce that will only grow about 4' wide placed near the fence line alongside the espalier'd Lindens.
34.  A NEW Dwarf Alberta Spruce planted near the south fence line.  Our first "dwarf" tree.
35.  This new Hakuro Nishiki Willow (Dappled Willow) tree planted close to the flowering cherry on the southside.  LOST - October 2020.

37.  A very thin Lombardy Poplar tree - columnar form - in the way back wood chip area.  LOST - July 2020.
38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45.  These apple trees in a Belgian Fence espalier.
46.  A small Northern Red Oak tree - our first Oak tree planted.
47.  A 'decapitated' Lavender Twist Weeping Redbud that I planted on a whim.
48.  A replacement (from the nursery) Lavender Twist Redbud planted close to the brother.
49.  A tall(ish) London Plane tree that suffered some transplant and frost shock, but seemed to recover. 
50.  Our second contorted tree - this one inspired by Disneyland Paris: a Harry Lauder's Walking Stick tree.
51.  Our third contorted tree - but one that checks A LOT of boxes.  Deciduous conifer.  Weeping.  Contorted.  Japanese.  Planted behind the front Maple - the Horstmann's Recursive Weeping Contorted Larch.  LOST - Aug 2020.
52.  Via the Morton Arboretum Plant Sale - a columnar tree from Japan - the Red Fox Katsura Tree that I planted as an understory tree to the dying Chanticleer Pear Tree next to our driveway. 

2021 (16 planted and 13 alive):
53.  A tiny bareroot Shagbark Hickory from the Benet Academy Environmental Club planted in the backyard.   LOST - May 2023
54.  Our first Japanese Maple - a dwarf Tamukeyama Maple planted in the south backyard bed LOST - May 2023
55.  A large Weeping Nootka Falsecypress from Wannemaker's planted in the new bed on the northside. 
56.  A long-sought-after Emperor I Japanese Maple - our second Japanese Maple - that is now planted on the border near our new-to-be-created fire pit area in the backyard. 
59.  A dwarf Japanese White Pine - Pinus Parviflora Nana (or perhaps something else).  LOST 2022.
64.  A second, tiny Ginko tree - this was a replacement for #62 - planted 'ib2dw'.
65.  A small - and ALL Green - Pagoda Dogwood (Cornus alternifolia) planted in front of the back Yews.
66. 67. 68.  A trio of London Planetree 'Bloodgood' trees that are planted along the fence that I'm going to attempt to pleach.

2022 (9 planted and 7 alive):
69. 70. 71. 72. 73. 74. Six Green Giant Thujas trees planted as an upright evergreen layer in the backyard. Thuja standishii plicata. TWO LOST.  May 2023.
75. A small Saratoga Ginko tree planted in our front yard by the front walk.
76.  A London Planetree Exclamation planted in our parkway.  A bandit tree of sorts.

2023 (14 planted1 and 14 alive):
78.  Small, Columnar Scotch Pine from Home Depot in early Spring 2023. 
79 and 80.  Dwarf "witches broom" Ginkgo trees - Spring Grove - planted on either side of our back stoop.  
83.  A small, but upright red lace-leaf Japanese Maple - Unknown variety planted amongst the hostas on the north side understory bed.
85.  The second of three trees from Mr. Maple - another one-gallon Japanese Maple:  Acer palmatum 'First Ghost' back by the firepit.
87.  Silver Maple Volunteer Seedling in Kitchen Window Border, behind the Astilbes.  
88.  A high-grafted (5#) Acer palmatum Inaba Shadire planted by the wine barrel water spitter in the backyard.
89.  This two-year-old Northern Catalpa volunteer that is on the corner of our patio.
90 and 91:  A pair of Kousa Dogwood Trees planted to espalier against garage sidewall.


1. [This says 'planted', but there are two volunteers on here that aren't 'technically' planted in 2023, I just counted them in 2023.]

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