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: Coat-racking the Korean Pines

Plant anything fifteen years ago, and it should be a lot bigger by now. Compact and upright though they are, these two Silveray korean pines flanking the grassy alley are finally too broad as well as tall. What's needed is more than snapping off much of the soft new growth, the "candles," each May. That only slows the increase in size. 

 

Pinus koraiensis Silveray 032318 both before 915

 

Plus, as the tree slowly continues to expand, the new growth becomes denser and denser as side-candles—the secondary candles in each "candelabrum"—account for more and more of each season's growth. Over a decade and more of such incremental attention, each of this pair of Pinus koraiensis 'Silveray' has still become too large, just more slowly. And they are both unusually dense as a result.

 

What's needed is more than snapping off much of the candles each May. Instead, it's time for "coat-racking"—cutting all the branches back as far as possible, leaving only crude, projecting stubs: the hang-your-hat-on hooks of the "rack." I do this every few years with my massive hedge of American holly, which—typical for all hollies—branches almost as readily from stubs of remaining young growth as directly from even the oldest trunks.

 

Few needle conifers—and no pines—are as accommodating: Only yew (Taxus) and Chinese "fir" (Cunninghamia) can resprout from old wood. (Fan-spray conifers—think arborvitae and Hinoki cypresses—are a bit more willing.) If any given branch of a typical needle conifer isn't to remain a leafless stub forever, it can be "racked" back only as far as its closest-to-the-trunk needle-bearing growth. 

 

Even so, the amount of the canopy that can be removed from these Korean pines is striking. In the picture below, you can see that the right-hand pine is now less than half as wide as the left—and after just five minutes of fearless pruning. 

 

Pinus koraiensis Silveray 032318 right pruned 915

 

Five minutes later, the left pine is also shorn.

 

Pinus koraiensis Silveray 032318 both pruned 915

 

Coat-racking isn't done for the subtlety of the close-range view: The stub-ends of the severed limbs are shocking. 

 

Pinus koraiensis Silveray 032318 branch stubs 915

 

But looking through the other end of the telescope, you realize how much needle-bearing growth remains. New candles will emerge from it spring into summer; I'll post or Instagram showing the progress.

 

 

 

Here's how to grow Silveray pine.

 

Here's how stunning Silveray pine is when paired with blue-leaved Himalayan musk rose.

 

 
 
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