The glory of the dogwood collection is the sweep and scale of the place. Undeniably the individual plants are nice; this Cornus kousa, is spectacular, so is the variegated Cornus mas to the left. So are dozens, hundreds? more specimens. Still, the feature that defines this area and explains its appeal is the mown lawn that stretches more than 300 feet from the circle at the top of the collection to the circular pool and fountain at the far end. Shade trees irregularly line the sides , occasionally arching into the opening. The dogwoods, small trees and large shrubs, fit under them and on island beds in the turf. The collection has the appeal of a loosely but regularly maintained estate of the late19th or early 20th century.
Sometimes I wonder about myself....When I first heard that the Dogwood Collection was one of the locations that the Arboretum was making available for weddings (National Arboretum Wedding Ceremonies and Receptions), it didn't occur to me that the Kousa Dogwoods, like the big one in the picture, would be flowering at just about the perfect time for spring weddings. I have a wonderful native Flowering Dogwood and a wonderful son who has a birthday on May 6. I know that at least 8 years out of ten the dogwood has begun to drop brown bracts by the 6th. But Cornus kousa is a different story. They have been nice for at more than a week and have another week or so to go, especially in this cool weather.
After the latest reorganization, Joan Feely has curatorial responsibilities, and George Waters is the gardener/ASRT. George has been working to add tasteful color through the balance of the growing season. I know he has planted Oakleaf Hydrangeas, Bottlebrush Buckeyes, bulbs, and things I don't even know about. George is a perfectionist, the most scrupulous gardener here, and he has been cleaning the edges and tweaking the turf and the plantings. Actually, thats why Jeanna and I were there today, to help George lay some sod pieces where seed didn't take. Today it was more a privilege than an assignment, and if we hadn't had to go we probably would have missed the season!