Louis Raymond experiments in his own gardens like

a mad scientist, searching out plants that most people have

never seen before & figuring out how to make them perform.- The Boston Globe

…Louis Raymond ensures that trees can grow in Brooklyn…

or just about any other place where concrete consumes

the dirt and skyscrapers shield the sunshine.- USA Today

 
 

NEW Trips to Take!

Myrtle's easy when the conditions are right.

 
 
 
 

NEW Plants to Try!

Louis tries to capture the exact words to describe the fleeting but deep pleasures to be found in these Summer-into-Autumn incredibles.

 
 
 
 

New Gardening to Do!

Allergic to bees? You can still have an exciting garden, full of flowers and color and wildlife.

 
 
 
 

Plant Profiles

Today in the Garden of a Lifetime: Giant Leucojum

Leucojum is Spring's high-volume replay of Winter's snowdrops: Same white-and-green flowers, but in groups of up to eight per stem, not just two. Same dangle, but from stems that can be eighteen inches tall, not four to six. Same high resistance to critters above and below ground. Same ability to thrive for many years without care.

 

Leucojum aestivum Gravetye Giant 051215 640

 

The similarities between the flowers of Galanthus and those of Leucojum are even more evident at close range: The seemingly carefree dangle, thanks to a thin yet sturdy arching peduncle that terminates in a bright green ovary shaped like a grain of rice. The spot of green at the tips of the tepals—and that, because the inner three petals are so similar to the outer three sepals, the correct term for them both is, in fact, tepals.

 

Leucojum aestivum Gravetye Giant 051215 cropped 640

 

And because part of the charm of true snowdrops is in discovering (and then being able to point out, casually, to friends) the minutiae that distinguish the cultivars, that pleasure (and, yes, pride) in discernment of details also extends to Leucojum

 

The six tepals of Galanthus are clearly in two ranks. The outer three are pure white and as long and droopy as the ears of liliputian goats, whereas the inner three are half their length at best, and are tipped with green. The six tepals of Leucojum flowers are all of equal length, and all have green tips. Most often, just one Galanthus flower emerges from a given stem, whereas Leucojum flowers emerge one after another, like a litter of puppies, each on its own leash. The first flower to emerge arches out the farthest; it is given the longest leash. The leash of each successive flower nests within the arch of its next older "litter mate."

 

To my eye, the comparison with the line of smaller but similarly-shaped flowers dangling on the stem of lily-of-the-valley misses the point. Each Convallaria flower has a leash—I mean a peduncle—the same length as that of all the others, and all the flowers are suspended from a curved-at-the-tip stem that, when seen from above, follows a fairly straight line. (Think of a shepherd's crook.) Of course, the flowers themselves will also be in a line. So, it's not that the Leucojum flowers are in a line per se; it's that they are in a line that is so orderly despite that each flower is suspended on its own slender stem that is a different length and curve than all the other stems—and that all the stems arise not from up and down the length of a straight (when seen from above) flower stem, but from its very tip.

 

Leucojum flowers, then, aren't just a row of baubles suspended from a rod. They are a two-dimensional bouquet springing from the tip of a wand. 

 

This cultivar is Leucojum aestivum 'Gravetye Giant'; say "GRAVE-tie."  It raises the "volume" of floral performance still higher: The flowers are a bit larger than those of the straight species, and the flower stems can be a full foot taller. The result is an April-to-May reprise of the February-to-March snowdrop performance that can be as high as your knees, not as short as your ankles.

 

I'll profile Leucojum in late Summer, in time to inspire you to order your own.

 
 
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