Cornus kousa var. chinensis ‘Milky Way’ (Zones 5-8) is a summer celebration all by itself. Believe it or not, it has been in continuous bloom since June, two months and counting. For flower power, no other tree in our area comes close. (Photo proof below: June, July & August.)
I purchased Milky Way in 1995 because it was said to have an “extended period of bloom”. An understatement, to be sure. It certainly has exceeded all expectation. Moreover, when the flowers finally fade, the tree produces abundant, showy, raspberry-like red fruit beloved by song-birds, and in the Fall, before the leaves drop, its dark green foliage turns glorious shades of autumnal orange. A dramatic multi-season performer.
Kousa dogwoods are free of the dreaded anthracnose disease that has devastated our native population of dogwood, Cornus florida. Indeed, for the eighteen years it has graced my organic garden, Milky Way has been entirely disease-free. The tree flourishes in rich, moist, acid, well-drained soil. While the literature calls for a sunny location, mine does well in shade.
(Warning Note: Be aware that Milky Way is said to have confused parentage resulting in possible variations in the trees offered for sale.)
Cornus kousa ‘Summer Gold’ (Zones 5-8), purchased this Spring, is a new variegated dogwood introduction with radiant green foliage thickly edged in gold. Unique and fabulous! (Photos below.)
For added interest, creamy white flowers appear in Spring and its Fall foliage is a vibrant red. This tree is very compact, 8-10 feet at maturity, making it a perfect addition for a small garden. I planted Summer Gold near Milky Way so I can sit on my bench and admire both at the same time. (The first photo shows their proximity.) They share the same culture requirements.
Update of Post August 11, 2012
I’m delighted to report that Hibiscus ‘Jazzberry Jam’ is reliably perennial. It came back this year a-bursting with flowers. (Photo below.)