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

Variegated Pacific Raspberry

 

Leaves this colorful demand attention, especially on a plant this tiny.  Variegated Pacific Raspberry doesn't believe in arching up to greet you, like a typical East Coast bramble.  Its thin stems keep it right at ground level, and its open airy growth lets all the weeds grow right up and over it. 

 

Where's that moss garden when I need it?  If this charmer could be lounging atop a carpet of moss, its alert and even insistent variegation would be brighter still.  And the plant wouldn't be in danger of getting steamrolled by chickweed either.

 

rubus-ursinus-variegatus-closer-640

 

What a pleasure to see this plant, even if I need to get down on my knees to weed it—to find it—first. 

 

rubus-ursinus-variegatus-overall-640

 

Ouch, ouch, ouch: Its tiny hooked thorns aren't delicate or dull at all.

 

 

Here's how to grow this unique raspberry:

 

Latin Name

Rubus ursinus 'Variegatus'

Common Name

Variegated Pacific Raspberry

Family

Rosaceae, the Rose family.

What kind of plant is it?

Thorny colony-forming vining groundcover.

Hardiness

Zones 6 - 8

Habit

Prostrate unless it has the opportunity to scramble upward.

Rate of Growth

Slow to medium.

Size in ten years

Five feet wide and a foot tall.

Texture

Open and lively.  For me, at least, this raspberry doesn't grow thickly enough to be a weed-supressing groundcover.  It's a "groundcover" only in that it's prostrate.  The brightly-variegated leaves are quite sparkling, and a vivid contrast to open earth below, or (ideally) a darker, lower plant that grows so thickly it's truly is a literal groundcover.

Grown for

the distinctive variegated foliage.  Leaves of three dark green leaflets heavily bordered with white.  It's a strong contrast.

 

the white flowers match the variegation in the leaves.  On female plants that have a male pollinator nearby, these mature to edible fruit that passes through green to red to purple-black as it ripens.

Flowering season

Early Summer.

Culture

Good soil with enough water so the foliage doesn't scorch from drought.  Full sun if there's enough moisture, otherwise afternoon shade.

How to handle it

For me, a delicate and slow prostrate patch of growth that just barely keeps its nose above the surf of annual warm-weather weeds—which is, I admit, one reason it's so slow-growing. 

 

The thin vining stems have many short but painful downward-hooked thorns, so this plant will hold on to anything if given half a chance to climb.  I'm hoping it will get long enough to be trained up into the nearby 'Edith Bogue' Southern magnolia, whose huge, shiny, rigid, deep-green, evergreen leaves would be a perfect backdrop for the raspberry's tooth-edged, sharply-variegated trifoliate foliage.

 

Growing as a prostrate vine, though, the plant is a bit of a challenge: weeding between the sharp-thorned stems can get a little bloody.  I should provide a really thick—but even lower-growing—groundcover atop which the rubus can sprawl ad libitum.  Perhaps green lily-turf, Liriope spicata.  Its weed-proof shag-rug of green pencil-thin foliage would be as good a contrast, from the small-and-narrow end, as the Southern magnolia's is from the large-and-wide end.  

Downsides

Weeding between the thorny stems!  Plant with an "undercover groundcover" instead.

Variants

The species itself, Rubus ursinus, bears luscious "dewberries."  And is, indeed, loved by bears, Ursa major.  Many cultivars and hybrids with other fruiting raspberries provide a yummy range of fruits if, of course, you're lucky enough to live where they are grown locally: The Pacfic Northwest.

Availability

Alas, I can't find a source on-line this year.  I got mine years ago from GreerGardens.com.  And I'll pin some of the stems down to the ground so my patch can root along the stems.  Raspberries all love to layer.

Propagation

By cuttings as well as layering.

Native habitat

California to British Columbia.

 
 
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