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 Season Ever: Variegated Winter Jasmine

All hardy jasmines should be of great interest, simply because there are so few of them. Winter jasmine is the hardiest but also the most challenging, in that its extraordinary vigor can make it a thug. By comparison, the variegated form is a pussycat.


This stem tip from my old colony shows the puzzle: The newest leaves are all-green...


Jasminum nudiflorum Aureum 080218 green new foliage 915


...but older leaves are solidly white-yellow.


Jasminum nudiflorum Aureum 080218 chlorophyl loss already 915


Only the "medium mature" leaves are literally variegated: They are spotted with yellow. What's the story on these striking changes in the leaves of Jasminum nudiflorum 'Aureum' as they mature?


My take is that the yellow spots show where chlorophyll is being lost as leaves mature. Is this "just" a genetic fluke of this cultivar? Does that mutation result in susceptibility to, say, a virus that results in destruction of the chlorophyll? From whatever cause, after a few weeks the destruction is complete: Leaves that had matured earlier than the spotted leaves have already lost all but the faintest remnants of chlorophyll along their leaf veins.


In a few weeks, the leaves that are now spotted will lose the balance of their chlorophyll, too. What saves the plant is that new growth continues to emerge for much of the growing season. Leaves of that new growth have their full complement of chlorophyll, which is enough to sustain that new growth as well as the now "parasitic" mature growth behind it. I term it parasitic because this older growth has become virtually chlorophyll-free, so is no longer able to produce within its own leaves what would have been its normal amount of energy. It must rely on energy produced by the chlorophyll in its green stems, plus whatever energy is shunted down from still-green new growth at the stem tips.


No wonder variegated winter jasmine is so much less vigorous than the straight species! Energy-wise, it's quite the cripple. By contrast, the all-green species is rambunctious, climbing twelve to fifteen feet, and bounding along the ground as far as I'd let it. Without occasional ruthless pruning, all-green winter jasmine would take over my entire garden.


But stems of this variegated form are only eight feet long despite never having been pruned, ever, and having had six years of time to grow. Thank goodness! I planted the shrub at the base of my colony of compact osmanthus, which is between five and six feet high and wide. The jasmine's long, flexible stems are easy to swag up, into, over, and across the osmanthus canopy. From those perches, their side stems and further tip growth create a white-spangled cascade.


Jasminum nudiflorum Aureum 080218 overall 915


The newest tips have descended all the way down to the Color Guard yucca in the lead photo.  


Jasminum nudiflorum Aureum 080218 cascade 915


The bright-gold foliage in the foreground is that of a root sprout of Golden Shadow mulberry that I've allowed to establish a good fifteen feet from its parent. In any company, variegated winter jasmine is a star.




Here's how to grow the straight species of winter jasmine, including shots of its cool-season flowers. In my experience, this variegated cultivar is as hardy.   


Here's a look at the deep green foliage of the straight species of winter jasmine, which forms an exciting if (comparatively) understated cascade down one of my espaliered southern magnolias.


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