20 Jan 2011

Such Handsome Dawgs!

Cornus-kousa-%27Wolf-Eyes%27-2Cornus kousa ‘Wolf Eyes’

cornus_kousa_samaritan Cornus kousa ‘Samaritan’

cornus venusCornus x ‘Venus'

 The only visible drawback that most gardeners like myself face – those of us who garden on properties that are the size of a postage stamp – is the fact that there are so many handsome and beautiful trees that we yearn to grow, but sadly do not have the space to grow them successfully and to their finest potential. Luckily I am a firm believer of ‘vicarious gardening’ – whereby I mercilessly flaunt the esteemed quality of a selection of trees that I would willingly sell my soul if only to be able to grow, in the hopes that there are gardeners out there who will happily take up my cause and consider adding them to their garden’s repertoire.

I am a total sucker for the genus Cornus [commonly known as ‘dogwoods’ – hence the ‘dawg’ reference in the title – and have gone so far as to plant one on my postage sized property! [Cornus alternifolia ‘Golden Shadows.] Truth be told my favourites are some of the smaller members within the genus, but I am still hesitant to plant them knowing that I simply do not have the room they require to mature to their full beatific potential.

Cornus kousa ‘Wolf Eyes’ is a stunning variegated member of the genus, native to China, Korea and Japan. It is a small deciduous tree with a gorgeous spreading canopy. It is highly desired for its ornamental value as well as its reputed resistance to ‘dogwood anthracnose’, a fungal disease that is potentially harmful to most flowering members within the genus occurring in Eastern North America.

Its branches are held in broad, somewhat horizontal layered tiers, adding an elegant appearance even during the winter months. Its attractive bark is mottled in shades of tan, grey and brown. In the Spring, clouds of large white bracted flowers smother the branches shine against a background of mid-green foliage outlined with a pristine creamy white variegation. The leaves tend to taper at the ends and are slightly rippled – hence the reference to ‘wolf eyes.’  As with most member within the genus, it prefers a partially shaded placement with well draining, humus rich neutral to slightly acidic soil. Its height potential ranges between 6-9m with an abundant floral display late Spring to early Summer. Hardiness Zones 5-8.

Cornus kousa ‘Samaritan’ is a sport of the popular C.k ‘Milky Way.’ This new selection is possibly the strongest and most vigorous variegated member within the genus, with hardiness being perhaps its strongest suit. Its handsome variegated foliage combines a light mint green colouring in early Spring, outlined in a dazzling creamy white, the green darkening somewhat as the year progresses. Radiant pink and rich burgundy tones herald in the cooler days and nights of Fall. A truly magnificent specimen tree of moderate height to approximately 7m by 5m. It too prefers a partially shaded placement in well draining, humus rich neutral to slightly acidic soil.

Cornus x ‘Venus’ is the one that everyone is talking about. It represents a hybrid between C. kousa x C nuttalii from a breeding program at Rutger’s University. Just look at the size of its flowers! [Six inches across in some cases!] When in full bloom, the branches practically disappear! To date, C x ‘Venus’ is the fastest growing Cornus to date, with a low branching, full habit. It tends to bloom just prior to other c. kousa members. A smaller tree with a height and spread of approximately 5m by the same,


All of the above mentioned trees generally fall within the 5m-9m height range; all do best in a partially shaded location with humus enriched neutral to slightly acidic soil. All flower in the Spring and offer a stunning colour display in the Fall. So there you have it, what are you waiting for. Don’t make me beg like a dawg……

Available at LittleTree 2011


Helen said...

I succumbed to temptation during a sale at our local garden centre and purchased Cornus kousa 'Summer Fun', a lovely variegated form. It's supposed to be small in stature, so my fingers are crossed.

Anonymous said...

Vicarious gardening has its merits. These should be big sellers at the nursery and hopefully you'll be able to admire them in their permanent situations. Gorgeous photos!

Barry Parker said...

Hi Barry T,

Only just discovered that you are blogging again. Wot a treat!
I have Cornus kousa 'Wolf Eyes', mine is not as beautiful as that in your picture, but it is much loved and I hope that it will one day grow out of its ugly duckling phase.