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

The Best Spring Ever: Gold-leaved Chinese Stachyurus

In my book, shrubs that flower outside the usual April-through-October window get a pass when it comes to further talents. They're in bloom when almost nothing else is, and that's quite enough. If witch hazels did nothing else, their Fall and Winter flowers would still make them essential. Ditto all forms of Corylopsis, Cornus mas, Forsythia, Jasminum nudiflorum, Mahonia, and Salix chaenomeloides.

 

The bounty of a favored few off-season bloomers extends beyond the floral. Below, the glowing gold foliage of a new and as-yet unnamed sport of the variegated cultivar of Stachyurus chinensis, 'Joy Forever.' The leaves of the straight species are plain green.

 

Stachyurus chinensis all gold sport of Joy Forever 030816 640 

 

The fly in the ointment with woody plants that bloom early in the new year is that they start forming those flower buds the previous Fall. It isn't enough that the stems themselves must be hardy enough to remain viable through the Winter. The buds must be, also.

 

And because no garden could ever have too many flowers in the cooler months, the temptation is toward ever more adventurous attempts at creating advantageous micro-climates, or denial of one's actual climate zone altogether. Two years ago, I myself failed to establish even the hardier form of Edgeworthia (but will try again); even in a mild Winter, the spot in my garden that I had thought would provide the best imitation of actual Zone 7 didn't. And, even if it had, this last Winter's plunge to minus eight degrees Fahrenheit would have done the shrub in.

 

The jury is still out on two additional camellias; in years past, I haven't been able to establish forms other than the all-too-appropriately named 'Survivor'. Stems and most of the foliage of 'Black Opal' and 'Korean Fire' camellias have both survived their first Winter but, unlike Fall-flowering 'Survivor', they bloom in Spring. We'll soon see if their buds are viable and, year by year, if the shrubs lead a truly comfortable and energetic life. The willow-leaved Stachyurus salicifolia is another trial, with reports that, yes, it will survive in the comparatively chilly depths of Zone 6b. Notice that I'm ignoring that a temperature of minus eight puts me in Zone 6a. But perhaps a careful combination of excellent drainage and anti-dessicant spray plus shelter from both Winter wind and early-morning sun will make the difference.

 

Stachyurus chinensis is often listed as being hardy not just to Zone 7, but into Zone 6, so it's plausible to trial it directly in my garden. And even if the flower buds don't prove hardy, the foliage and stems of this all-gold form will be partial consolation. Judging from the vendor's picture, below, they are right to rave about its combination of bright leaves and pinkish-red stems and petioles.

 

stachyurus chinensis all gold sport of joy forever 640

 

My plant isn't displaying the reddish stems, which could possibly be due to the lower light of a greenhouse; in the garden, Stachyurus is typically sited in full sun. On account of its stems and leaves, I'd still grow this form even if the buds don't survive the Winters. But there are gold-foliaged Spring-flowering shrubs whose stems and buds are both fully hardy for me, which is why I grow Corylopsis spicata 'Aurea' and Forsythia x intermedia 'Gold Leaf' instead of their straight species.

 

Here's hoping that this Stachyurus will favor me with flowers, too. Even if the foliage were just green, the shrub is showstopping when in bloom.

 

Stachyurus chinensis flowers 640

 

Pendulous clusters of small fragrant blossoms are so profuse and dense that they seem, luxuriously, to be dripping from the stems. Thrilling!

 

 

I'll profile this gold-leaved form of Stachyurus chinensis 'Joy Forever' if I'm able to establish it in my garden and if it thrives sufficiently to be able to flower.

 
 
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