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

Striped Lily-of-the-Valley

convallaria-majalis-yellow-striped-640

For this diminutive Lily-of-the-Valley I gladly lay stomach-down on sopping wet grass in tonight's chilly 50-degree drizzle.  To be prostrate before such decisive and thrifty beauty: I don't think there could be a bigger honor, a greater pleasure, even if I did need a complete change of clothing as soon as I got back indoors.

 

But a minute or two of clammy wet clothing is well worth it if the reward is seeing this plant's details nose to nose.  Yes, this is Lily-of-the-Valley, but a yellow-striped cultivar of particular zest.  It doesn't have many parts, but each is a thrill.

 

Those flowers! 

 

convallaria-flowers-640

 

Blazing-white pendant bells suspended side-to-side up the curved stalk.  With the firm green of the lower portion of the stalk ceasing—stopping on a dime, as it were—just before each little flower.  And with the stalk's young tip the same yellow as the stripes of the leaves.

 

And, yes, those leaves

 

convallaria-leaf-detail-640

 

These stripes aren't cautious or subtle or scarce:  More than ten per leaf, each vivid. 

 

Two weeks before, when the pips were just emerging, the striping was even more powerfully displayed.  Yup, I had to get prostrate to get this shot too. 

 

convallaria-majalis-yellow-striped-043011-640

 

Happy to do it.

 

 

Here's how to welcome this high-wattage perennial to your garden:

Latin Name

Convallaria majalis "Yellow Striped"

Common Name

Striped Lily-of-the-Valley

Family

Ruscaceae, the ruscus family.

What kind of plant is it?

Herbaceous perennial.

Hardiness

Zones 2 - 7

Habit

Strictly-upright spears of pointed, smooth-edged foliage in dense spreading colonies. 

Rate of Growth

Fast.

Size in ten years

Individual plants are six inches tall, and in ten years can have spread out to a colony six feet wide or more.

Texture

The foliage is large for such a small plant, and the uniform height of the individual plants in a colony makes a unique carpet of growth.

Grown for

the strikingly-striped leaves, which are brightest as soon as they emerge, but (alas) fade slowly to mostly-green as the weather becomes reliably hot.

 

the spikes of typical Lily-of-the-Valley flowers, fragrant and graceful as ever, but which are rescued from the commonplace by their fresh association with the foliage:  The flower-spike itself is the green of the leaves lower down, but the yellow of the stripes up at the tip.

Flowering season

Mid-Spring.

 

Culture

Humus-rich "woodland" soil, light and leafy and moisture-retentive.  Afternoon shade is always a good idea. 

How to handle it

Lily-of-the-Valley will grow in poor soil in dry shade, but the foliage soon gets brown-edged and tired.  This doesn't prevent the plants from persisting and even spreading, one reason that many gardeners look at plain-green Lily-of-the-Valley as just this side of a weed.

 

This exciting cultivar performs best when it gets the respect it deserves:  Good soil, shade from hot sun, occasional watering during Summer drought, and freedom from weeds when the colony is young and still filling in.

 

Happily, the same conditions are also ideal for tall ferns, an ideal overstory plant, as well as yellow-leaved Creeping Jenny, Lysimachia nummularia 'Aurea', an ideal groundcover. 

 

Older colonies can flower less enthusiastically, but can be re-inspired by a Fall digging-up, dividing-up, and replanting of only the most lively-looking pips.  My sense is that this is only necessary every five or six years, but even this infrequency would convince me not to use the plant for large-scale groundcover.  Or to let it wander far and wide among shrubs, where it would be difficult or impossible to divide and replant without also having to lift the shrubs too.  Instead, keep your colony to a realistic extent, and only let it wander among easy-to-lift perennials or ferns.

 

Downsides

Too much sun or too dry soil will cause the leaves to scorch.  The terrific striping slowly but unstoppably fades; by Summer this plant looks pretty much like the plain-old Lily-of-the-Valley.

 

Not happy South of Zone 7:  This is a perennial that demands a real Winter, not just an occasional freeze.

Variants

There are many variegated cultivars, some with yellow stripes and others with white.  The intensity and amount of striping can vary a lot; new cultivars (such as "Yellow Striped") are promoted with particularly vivid markings.  Green-leaved Lily-of-the-Valley can be had with pale-pink or white flowers; a double-white version exists too.

Availability

On-line and at specialty retailers.

Propagation

Division.

Native habitat

Far-East Asia






 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
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