Thursday, May 28, 2009

Wolf Eyes...In the Garden and Growing

How wonderful are dogwoods in the spring? Nothing but maybe azaleas are such big harbingers of spring as the beautiful dogwoods. Both the Florida Dogwood (Cornus floridus) and the above pictured Korean Dogwood (Cornus kousa) are awesome. Unfortunately, the Florida dogwoods don't excel in my garden. They were a bit neglected prior to us purchasing this home nearly eight years ago. Some are finally coming around, but most have succumbed to anthracnose, lawnmower and borer damage. Looking for an alternative I read where the Korean dogwoods are somewhat resistant to these problems. Of the Korean dogwoods, the one most often mentioned is the 'Wolf Eyes' cultivar.

posted on this very tree about this time last year. It has been one of my most often Googled posts, so being the fairly smart blogger that I am, I thought it was due an update:) I haven't seen this tree in any other gardens, but do know some bloggers have it in their gardens. I also have not found this tree in any nurseries, which is weird since there is so much interest in it. A local nursery owner recently asked me what I was seeing as a trend on the blog right now. I told him 'Wolf Eyes'. So many folks want to know about this tree that I think it must be a fairly popular or fairly unknown tree! If I were a nursery owner, I think I'd be carrying this tree in my nursery and be sure to help clients understand its differences as compared to the Florida dogwood.
I did not purchase mine in a nursery however. I lucked out and found this one at the Nashville Lawn and Garden Show in 2007. It was pretty small and looked a bit spindly, but has done well here. I must say this tree is a v...e...r....y slow grower. The slowest of any trees in my garden! I'd be surprised if it has grown even 6 inches per year. It is sited in a focal area and is showcased against darker foliaged shrubs and trees, including smoke trees, 'Annabelle' hydrangeas, and a 'Bloodgood' Japanese maple. I love the white of the leaves as they surely look like frosting.

I believe all dogwoods deserve and even require a bit of shade so this one is also in some shade, mostly shade in fact. That may be why it doesn't grow faster, but that is okay. I never worry about the foliage burning or it drying out due to excess sun.

Because the foliage is so bright and stays looking like this all season, the flowers are not really visible. You have to look real close. For me, the foliage is enough to keep me happy. Not only is the foliage variegated and mostly white, it stays that way and does not revert (at least not in the two years I've been growing it). Additionally, the leaves are wavy. This is an added bonus of 'Wolf Eyes' that most trees do not feature. The waviness adds to the texture of the tree and makes it a very outstanding specimen. That and the fact this dogwood has not been bothered by pests or diseases and is reliable is why I love the 'Wolf Eyes'.

If you have experience with the 'Wolf Eyes' or any other cultivar of Korean dogwoods, and know a good source for them, please let me know.

in the garden....


  1. That's a different looking dogwood, it reminds me of bishops weed.

  2. I have never seen or heard of this tree Tina, but wow--how pretty! It reminds me of hostas made into a tree! Sooo pretty!

  3. Good morning Tina, the only experience I have with the Wolf Eyes is that Pam Harper has it in her garden. Hers is about 10 feet tall (or more) and quite lovely. Too many people put dogwoods in full to part sun and then wonder why the tree is stressed. Both the dogwoods and the redbuds need dappled light...right plant right place!!
    Your Wolf Eyes is striking in the bed with the burgundy leaved...smoke tree?.

  4. Seems I have seen this tree before, didn't know it's name though. Thanks for the great info again. Always learning here!!

  5. It's a beauty Tina...and will light up a shadier spot. We are off to the airport...wish you were going to Chicago, too! gail

  6. Tina,
    I've always love Wolf Eyes. I've seen one in a store in the past year. I was too afraid to buy it because we have so much sun and it wasn't a cheap investment. Maybe later when I feel more comfortable it will thrive. :-)--Randy

  7. Good morning Tina. Dogwoods are one of the most beautiful things about the south. I'd give a great deal to be able to grow them here. Cornus alternifolia "Pagoda Dogwood" which is a native and reliably hardy is the only one that does very well here. It blooms more like a viburnum than a dogwood with 4-inch flat flower clusters. It has that wonderful horizontal structure (pagoda-like). It only grows about 12 feet tall and is usually grown as a multi-trunked tree. Anyway, I'll look at Wolf Eyes to check for zone hardiness.

  8. I know nothing about dogwoods, but have always wanted one. It's good to know that certain varieties don't do as well in the North. You would think that with all the positive characteristics of "Wolf Eyes" that more nurseries would carry them. You may have just started a trend, Tina!

    Leaving for Chicago in less than an hour...wish you were going!

  9. That is a lovely variegated Dogwood. I've been wanting to add one or two to my yard for years. I might have to keep my eye out for it. :)

  10. It's very pretty. I just love the leaves on it, it looks really nice in the grouping of plants you have it with! I haven't seen too many trees with variegated leaves.
    Thank you for the very nice Thank You card, you're too nice :)

  11. Morning all! Today is a garden day and yahoo to the lovely rain last night!

    Dawn, It sure has the colors!

    Linda, That's a great comparison too!

    Janet, Good catch on the 'Royal Smoke' on the left side of the dogwood. To the right and set back a bit is a 'Bloodgood'. 'Bloodgood' does not want to grow here for some reason. That Royal smoke has come into its own this year and is paired with 'Golden Spirit' smoke tree. It really does set off the little Wolf Eyes well. This is my view from the kitchen window and I love it. The irises in the photo are gone now though. Thanks for asking! No full sun for anything here in my garden-just can't do it with all those red oaks I am blessed to have.

    Darla, You bet!

    Gail, You guys will have the BEST time! Tell Frances dancing on the table is allowed only if the table is in the garden. We ARE garden bloggers after all and can only really dance in the garden:)

    Jamie and Randy, Happy Birthday to Jamie! And doesn't Phillip have a Wolf Eyes? I liked his very much. It's a lovely tree.

    Marnie, I was researching black walnut toxicity and found Pagoda dogwood is resistant to juglone. I of course thought of you and have been looking around for a Pagoda. I love when you talk of yours and it sounds like such a neat plant I wish I could see it. Not to mention, I've only ever heard you talk of it so it must be like the Wolf Eyes? Not well known? I even like the name!

    Rose, You guys have the best time!! I know you will! Oh to get to meet many of the folks you speak with each day and get everyone's take on blogging has to be wonderful. I bet you all will even forget about blogging, if only for a time! I'll read about it once I get back from NC-can't wait! Have the best time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks for thinking of me:)

    Racquel, I really love the Korean dogwoods. They are just coming into bloom here and look so nice! I like the flowering dogwood too but these ones are just so unique. The fruit is different too. Birds love it so much you are lucky to find it on trees!

  12. Neat tree, I love it and also think it looks like Hostas. That's what I kept thinking as I read the post.

    I do leave my seed heads on but will pay more attention to just what they look like this year.

    Glad Christy is there okay.

  13. I have two baby Cornus florida that I'm tryin to find homes for. I've not decided on a spot in my landscape yet. The 'Wolf Eyes' is a gorgeous specimen and I'd love to have one of them. Can I get a cutting from you? ;~)

  14. Mom, it does look like hostas indeed. Good thing I paired with dark plants behind then. Yup, Christine is out and about. Getting adjusted quickly. She says it 'muggy'. Ha! We don't even have the A/C on, a rare thing for this time of year. She hasn't seen muggy yet:)

    TC, I've not tried cuttings, but if I do and come your way-you bet! How are your gooseberries doing? My sister's, and mother's are doing great. I was wondering about yours and Cindy's. I need to email her.

  15. That is certainly an interesting and special dogwood Tina. I can see why the attraction. I haven't tried a dogwood in my Colorado garden ~ I'm not sure why I hesitate? I did see 'Bloodgood' JM at Lowes the other day. The tag says it makes a good container tree ~ what do you think about that (since you have it in your garden)? Thanks!

  16. I didn't know about this one, but I love it. The leaves really light up the space, and it's perfect against a backdrop of darker leaves. Good find.

  17. I think, they names "Hopkins eyes" grinz-liebe Grüsse von Kathrin und Hopkins

  18. Cool! There was a dogwood like this outside my first grade classroom. I still remember those bright coral colored fruits. Love the variegated foliage.

  19. Hi Tina --I initially thought hostas when I first saw the picture. I'm glad I wasn't the only one --they really do look like my hostas by my mailbox. It is a lovely day --wish I could say I was out weeding but I am inside with my lil guy. His snuggles are far better than weeding this time of year --but the weeds are about to overtake my yard so I have to make some adjustments, hahaha. Have a great day --so happy to hear that Christy is back down this way closer to you:) Hi Jean and Lola - stay cool --it is muggy for sure --we've had the air on since April --I guess we've wimped out --but I did get my electric bill today -ACK!
    Hi Skeeter --don't plant too many plants --that GA rain will slow down soon and then we'll never see you because you'll be out all day watering:0) Stop and get some sweet tea and take a break:) Ciao!

  20. Hi Tina, mine just quit blooming but I'll try to find some photos. Meanwhile you can google images for Pagoda dogwood. They seed very well and I always pull up several seedlings. I can save you some and ship them when they are dormant. (Have had very poor luck transplanting them when they are leafed out.) They have black berries beloved by birds.

  21. Anonymous, you are too funny but oh so right! I keep planting things with the rain falling and when it stops raining, which it will, I may regret planting so much this spring! Oh well, part of my diet plan, sweat it off with watering! lol... Get the older kiddos involved with weed pulling. A dime a weed! Bet they could make some quick money with a handful of weeds. lol...

    Jean, the deer got to my hosta this past weekend! Arg, I am so mad at them. I sprayed with Liquid Fence and now some of my plants have spots on them. ARggg...

    Am so glad that Christine is safe at her new home. I bet Bella was happy to see mommy!

    Tina, I am hearing the comments about dogwoods in the sun. I have 3 that were passed along to me by a neighbor which got them free from a donation. They are in full sun and thriving and bloomed massive blooms this spring. Hum, maybe my type dogwood like the sun.

    I think I lost my gooseberry. Sigh, it was doing well then the soggy spot it was in may have gotten to it. I will ask my dad how his gooseberry is doing...

  22. I've never heard about Wolf Eyes but I think the foliage on your tree is very attractive. It looks somewhat like a fast-growing shrub that my neighbour has.

  23. I love anything with varigated leaves! I have lots of plants in my gardnen that are varigated. The Wolf Eyes is beautiful! -Jackie

  24. Hey Skeeter --that dime a weed thing sounds like a mighty fine idea:0 Presently I am sending Boy 1 out to do some trimming. I have to get out there --he takes my word for just that, lol. If I say trim out back --he'll skip the sides and JUST do the back, ahahaha what a boy I tell you. Hi Tina --I'm sure you are having more progress outside than I will --nice day but trusty summer t-storms keep popping up out this way. Ciao!

  25. Kathleen, I think dogwoods would grow there. They are so lovely.

    Megan, I considered myself SO lucky to find this at the show! And funny thing is, I was actually looking for a kousa. Ha! Not often I get plants that way.

    Kathrin, Yes indeed! Hopkins looks a lot like a wolf no doubt. Your English is getting good!

    Lzyjo, They are definitely beautiful!

    Anonymous, To heck with the weeds. There is always another day. Cuddle that bundle. We are going to stop by soon! I'll have to bring Christine. I think you've met Liz, but not Christy. I'd love to see the garden, especially that butterfly weed. Let Boy 1 have at the yard. He is big enough-trust him, he'll be fine. Dime a minute make bankrupt you though. Might go a penny or nickel-even so that can take some money! Woo on the electric bill. I am a holdout, let me tell you. It is so nice! I want at least two months out of the year with no heating or cooling on my electric bill. I pay so much in utilities as it is so I am determined!

    Marnie, Yes! I'd love that as I know I can find a spot somewhere under my other trees. Poor small trees. How big do they get? I'll try to google some sometime, but regardless I would so enjoy this dogwood from you when they are ready. Thanks!

    Skeeter, Dogwoods are SO an understory tree. They sure look nice and full in the sun but it is not their ideal situation. I am so glad yours do well. They may get enough moisture that makes up for that sun to help. But take my word for it, they really do appreciate some shade-just like us. That is a bummer on the gooseberry. Don't give up. My mother said hers was all full of brown leaves then she looked and it was covered with green! She never noticed. I have plenty more. I'm waiting til the berries turn red prior to posting for you all. Should be soon. Yup, Christy is in-like a whirlwind. She has many friends here from training in Texas and is out getting used to the area. Bella AND all the dogs were happy to see her. I was happy SHE got up and let Bella out early this morning. Sure like sleeping in. You'll have to meet her sometime when you are in town.

    Kanak, Isn't the name alone cool? Wolf eyes just sounds so exotic to me.

    Jackie, Yes indeed! This is a fun and bright plant! It looks more white than variegated though. You might have luck finding it up there.

    Anonymous, not too much time outside. Gotta get back to it. I am moving stuff, dividing stuff, and getting rid of stuff! Not much weeding. I wish that were all I could do! But I tell you this rain has made them all grow like-um-weeds:))

  26. What a gorgeous tree! I wonder why we never hear of this specimen? I love it. And some of us in garden homes don't really want many fast-growing trees due to the space limitations.

  27. Great post Tina. I really like the Wolf Eyes. I don't think it would do here in my garden as I have mostly sun.
    I'm glad Christine got home safe. I bet Bella was beside herself to see Mommy. Be safe on you travels.

    Anonymous, do cuddle, weeds can wait. I agree Boy #l can handle it. Sometimes we don't give our kids enough credit.

    My AC has been on most of May. That humidity is something else. Can't hardly breathe. At least outside the breezes do help.

    Jean, I met a couple from Maine this afternoon & he knows just where you are. He was telling me about the light houses, among other things. Lobster, crabs & fishing. He was a very nice person {of 73}. I could have listened to him for hrs. The wife was in too big a hurry. I think they were in motor homes, maybe staying at local KOA. Do you know about the sand castle? If I remember they lived in the shadow of an old light house for 52 yrs.

    Skeeter, I hope you have dried out some. It is still so wet here I have to be careful where I step. Grass can't be cut---makes it look 10 times worse. I like a well manicured lawn. When I could do it I kept it that way. Now I'm just glad to get it cut.
    I've been so hard at it the last couple days I don't know which way I'm going. I've planted, re potted, transplanted, Made potted vignettes, & gathered some veggies.
    And I'm still not done. It's a never ending job, but I love it {even the part where I'm so tired & sore I can't hardly move}.

    Gail, Frances & anyone else that is headed to the Fling I hope you have a marvelous time & be safe. I know it will be a blast. It's so nice to meet in person.

  28. Hi Anonymous!! I am with the rest of the gang....the weeds will wait as the cuddling is much better and they grown up so darn fast, as we all know.

    Skeeter I have been meaning to tell you about the deer here in Maine. When reading this bear in mind that the deer in Maine are generally speaking, as Dawn said the other day, are bigger than what you get down south. Maine is full of small coastal towns and islands and the deer love being near the coast. They would much rather have the natural salt off the rocks than a block of salt. A lot of small towns have a no kill deer rule. Therefor the deer have become a really bad problem in some places. The paper said that at the Rachel Carson Wildlife Refuge there are between 100 and 150 deer per square mile with other game preserves and refuges have about the same head count. On one island a deer pushed the basement door opened to get at the stored chicken feed. A daughter nearly trips over a deer taking a nap on a back deck. Another deer enters a fenced in yard to seek refuge from and overly insistent suitor. Those 3 things all happened to the same woman!!! That island sure has a problem. That island is probably 30 miles from me and as the crow flies it is only 10 to 15 miles away. Sorry about your hostas but be gald you do not have a bigger problem as it can always be worse!!!! I have been wanting to tell you this for a few weeks but knew it would be a LONG comment and figured with spring fling it was a good time to be long winded.

    Hi Lola, I do not know about the sand castles except in the summer a couple of places have a weekend full of building them for prizes and the judges have there hands full picking the best ones.

  29. I've learned a lot of dogwood lore through this post and comments. Wolf Eyes is spectacular, thanks for explaining about the wavy leaves, as I noticed something was different about it, but couldn't figure out what. Thanks for relieving my mind!

  30. Lola, we are drying out a bit. Today is the last day they are forecasting pop up storms so we will have at least a week off from moisture! Yeah, maybe I can get the veggies in the ground. Even in the pots they are turning yellow from too much rain fall...

    Jean, I have heard about such things with the deer. The deer down here are really small compared to even TN. They are much larger the further north you go. I remember the small deer in Texas being about the size of a large dog! Now those were some small deer! I have heard about places where they have no kill deer policies and it is becoming a problem. If you have too many, they will die from disease or starvation from lack of food sources. I think that is a cruel way for an animal to live. I think they should have a program where some trained professionals can harvest the deer and meat for people who need a meal. That would be better then allowing the animals to starve or get diseases. I am an animal lover as you know but would rather see someone kill and eat the deer then let if suffer. Just my opinion of course and I am sure someone would agree to disagree with me on this one. I know with all the construction going on around us, we are seeing different habits from the deer. We are finally out of the drought so hopefully there is plenty in the woods for them to eat. The squirrels have been getting to our corn bucket and emptying the corn too soon so when the deer find an empty corn bucket, they head to the yard for salad of my hosta. Arggg, we adjusted the corn bucket so hopefully the squirrels will not be taking much corn now...

    Oh, while in Germany the rabbit population exploded and they were diseased and it was not a pretty sight. Imagine riding your bike through the gardens and coming upon a listless rabbit in your pathway. We were warned to stay clear of the rabbits and just let them die a natural death. I thought that cruel but nothing we could do but get off our bikes and slowly walk around the suffering critter and be on our way as they continued to die a slow death. I thought that a cruel thing to do but we must follow the rules but it was hard to just walk away from the many rabbits we found in this condition. In time the population was thinned out and they were once again healthy, That is, until the next bout of the disease hit again from over population….

  31. It really is a beauty! Even if it slowly adds to the garden. Very nice contrast to the surrounding plantings.

  32. Monrovia is now growing this tree and anybody interested should be able to go to their site so they can see who has it locally. I got several from them this spring and they sold quickly, which is good considering how expensive they were in a #10 pot. There is another dogwood you may want, google 'Empress of China'.

  33. Skeeter I will not agree to disagree with you as I firmly believe in hunting seasons. I could NEVER kill any animal but they do have hunting seasons for a reason. They do starve to death when they are not thinned out. The land only can support so much.

    Tina I did a lot of research on the dogwoods last night and I could not find a wolf eyes anywhere but on several sites they had a variegated one that is called just that and looks like the one you showed. I wonder if it is the same. It says that it and the pagoda are both hardy for zone 5. I would love to try them out back by my bird feeders. What do you think? I probably should get something that is a faster grower though. The sites all said they were a slow to moderate grower. However I really like them with the one you showed my fav. It is just stunning.

  34. Hey you all, Thanks so much for all the comments.

    Mom, yes, I think you should try a dogwood for sure. I've never seen them grow there so for sure try to get one very hardy to your zone. A better bed for the money though, would be large J. maple. They do grow well there. I've seen many up there and love them.

    Les, I did google 'Empress of China' and like it very much that it is evergreen. I will for sure keep my eyes open.

    Brenda and Heather, Thanks!

    Pomona, Yes, it is hard to see but the leaves are wavy. A neat thing indeed.

    Lola, Not sure if it would grow down there or not. It might. I've not checked.

    Skeeter, You should dry out soon. They are calling for dry days here. I like the rain, but we too need to dry out. All kinds of fungal problems in the garden.