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

Tansy 'Isla Gold' / Spurge 'Fen's Ruby'

tanecetum-isla-gold-euphorbia-fens-ruby-640

 

Ah, the pleasures of color, especially on April days when the sun seems to have forgotten to show up.  The ferny gold foliage is tansy 'Isla Gold,' the classy cousin of the hateful weed, green tansy.  Isla's only a bit less rambunctious, but as the only ferny-gold foliage in a hardy sun-loving perennial, I've made my peace. 

 

Truthfully, I haven't seen any of the green-weed's yup-now-here-I-am-six-feet-away spreading of the rhizomes.  I'm growing it in a purposely sandy/gravelly spot, which may have been just what the doctor ordered.   And I don't notice self-seeding either.  But maybe that's because the yellow button flowers are at such an aesthetic disadvantage compared to the foliage that I cut them off as soon as they've opened, and I realize, yet again, how the foliage trumps all.

 

And so, each Spring, I get to enjoy this clump of fluorescent foliage. 

 

Better still?  I planted purple-leaved 'Fen's Ruby' spurge nearby; it's happy in the same sandy-gravelly-full-sun spot.  And when it spread every way, by seed as well as by rhizome, as it inevitably does, it also found its way right into the heart of the tansy clump.  Even overlooking the two plants' joyfully-juxtaposed colors of lime green and mahagony-burgundy, their two foliages are a good texture contrast too. 

 

Better still?  Fen's acid-yellow flower clusters show up in early Spring too—when the tansy foliage and the Fen's foliage are both at their brightest.

 

Better STILL?  The flowers are the same hue and intensity of the tansy foliage.  Such a diversely-diverting combination, from just the two plants and the two colors.  I'm in awe that Nature can be so economically interesting.

 

What would be better still?  An emerald-green prostrate groundcover that would also be up-and-at-'em in April.  The leaf-littered gravel is effective but not, in this company, attractive.  Instead, this fantasy:  Something with the color of moss—but a cactus's yen for blazing sun and drought. 

 

Perhaps a tiny-leaved sedum?  A few are fully evergreen, so they'd be full (enough) right at the beginning of the season, when the Fen's 'n Isla show is most vivid.  Googling around, I've come upon Sedum album 'Orange Ice.'

 

sedum-album-orange-iceHere's the forecast: Unique for its evergreen foliage that turns orange in the Fall and Winter.  Once the weather warms in Spring, the foliage changes to soft medium green.  During early to mid-Summer, many clear-white flowers.

 

Very promising indeed!  If the Winter color is still hanging around in April, it would still go with the chrome & burgundy theme of Fen's 'n Isla.  And if the foliage greens up, that would be even better.

 

I mean, better STILL.

 

Time for some shopping.  Stay tuned for the follow-up: Fen's, Isla, and Orange Ice in their new ménage à trois.

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Here's how to grow gold-leaved tansy:

 

Latin Name

Tanacetum vulgare 'Isla Gold'

Common Name

Gold-leaved tansy

Family

Asteraceae, the daisy family

What kind of plant is it?

Hardy perennial

Hardiness

Zones 4 - 8

Habit

Many upright stems from a clump.  Can spread by rhizomes when happy, so be watchful.

Rate of Growth

Fast

Size in ten years

Two to three feet tall and wide.

Texture

Ferny

Grown for

Solid-gold foliage, brightest in Spring but credible all season.

Flowering season

Summer, but the flowers are distinctly secondary to the foliage.  I haven't experienced self-seeding, but clipping off the flowers would prevent it.

Culture

Full sun and good drainage.  Drought-tolerant in normal soil; can scorch if drought-stressed in lean or sandy soil.

How to handle it

Pinch off the tips of the foliage in May and (if you can manage it) again in late June to keep the plants shorter, bushier, and less prone to flopping.

Downsides

With too rich soil or too much water, the stems grow too tall and flop.  (See pinching, above.)  With too lean soil or too little water, the stems are shorter, but the foliage scorches.  (In lean soil, then, some afternoon shade could be the solution.)  A plant that appreciates the happy medium.

Variants

The all-green species—both wide-spreading and self-seeding—is too weedy for gardens.

Availability

Garden centers as well as on line.

Propagation

Division in Spring.

Native habitat

Europe


 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here's how to grow Fen's Ruby spurge:

 

Latin Name

Euphorbia cyparissias 'Fen's Ruby'

Common Name

Fen's Ruby spurge

Family

Euphorbiaceae

What kind of plant is it?

Hardy spreading perennial

Hardiness

Zones 4 - 8

Habit

Vigorously spreading by underground rhizomes.  Also self-seeds a bit.  (Comes true from seeds.)

Rate of Growth

Very fast

Size in ten years

Twelve inches tall; spread indefinite.

Texture

Ferny

Grown for

Deep purple Spring foliage is the perfect contrast to the showy lime-yellow flowers.  Foliage matures to bluish-green, also enjoyable but not as dramatic.  Like all euphorbs, it's deer-proof, thanks to the sticky milky-white sap.

Flowering season

Spring.

Culture

Any soil with average to good drainage.  Completely drought-tolerant when established.  Lean sandy soils reduce but don't eliminate wide-spreading vigor.

How to handle it

Plant it in full sun where the nearby plants are much taller, so the spurge can flow around them without swamping them.  A peerless groundcover on hot sunny slopes.  Dry soils keep the plant shorter so it's less interested in flopping.   

Downsides

Will overgrow smaller plants.  Self-seeds as well as spreads widely by rhizomes.  Flops in soils that are too rich, or when there's too much water.

Variants

The species is as vigorous, and if planted with room to spread, is an equally successful groundcover.

Availability

Better retailers, and on line.

Propagation

Division in Spring

Native habitat

Europe


 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
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