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

White-flowered Goat's Rue

galega-x-hartlandii-alba-overall-640

 

"White flowers and showy foliage:" I  wrote just yesterday about Danewort in that regard.  Today, still more white flowers and showy foliage.  June is a bountiful month, indeed.  This perennial, white-flowered Goat's Rue, looks like white-flowered Chinese Indigo—high praise in my book—but at four feet, it's twice as tall.  Plus it's a perennial instead of a shrub.

 

But in foliage and flower, it's the best-friend sibling.   Unlike the indigo, it also has a host of medicinal uses.  "Galega" itself is derived from words for bringing on lactation—it's good to have your goats give more milk—and some important diabetes drugs were isolated from the straight species, as well.  My interest, though, is solely in the plant's garden-worthy gifts of beauty, self-reliance, and longevity.

 

After yet another day of rain, I had to get a hand into the picture below to bring this glorious perennial's beauty into scale for you.  I'm standing, extending my hand downard into the clump: Galega is a big perennial, indeed, to four feet or even five.

 

galega-x-hartlandii-alba-finger-640

 

With the 'Alba' form so happy here, I had to try out one of the pink versions, 'Lady Wilson'.  Same vigor and stature, but with pink flowers.  Well, that's why I have Pink Borders, so I have someplace to put all the pink.  But the white-flowered Galega is by far the showier.  And, white being white, it's so much more cosmopolitan than pink, mixing with absolutely any other color in the garden.

 

 

Here's how to grow this exceptionally accommodating and stylish perennial:

 

Latin Name

Galega x hartlandii 'Alba'

Common Name

White-flowered Goat's Rue

Family

Fabaceae, the Pea family.

What kind of plant is it?

Herbaceous perennial

Hardiness

Zones 3 - 9.

Habit

Large, dense, upright clumping perennial.

Rate of Growth

Fast.

Size in ten years

A clump four to five feet tall and three feet wide.

Texture

Feathery, graceful, and, when at full height in bloom, shrub-like.

Grown for

the delicate, vertical, six-inch spikes of white "pea-family" flowers, one at the top of each of the branching vertical stems, bringing a true fireworks feel to your June garden.

 

the bright-green pinnate foliage, noticeably lighter and more "alert" than usual.

 

reliability even in heavy soil, high water tables, and sketchy Winter drainage.

Flowering season

Early Summer: June here in Rhode Island. 

Culture

Easy!  Full sun with almost any moisture-retentive soil.  "Fantasy" humus-rich "woodland garden" soils aren't necessary.

How to handle it

Each season I'm impressed anew with Galega.  It's self-supporting, uninteresting to rabbits or groundhogs (I don't, however, know about deer), tolerant of heavy soil as well as high-Summer drought, and, in my experience, sterile so there aren't self-seeded volunteers everywhere.

 

After flowering, gather your courage and cut the whole clump back to a foot or even less.  Shorter (but non-blooming) stems will arise and provide a full-foliaged effectiveness the rest of the season.  Why not plant taller and later-season plants at the back of your Galega, so it can be the front-row fan to that later show.  Big-foliaged tropicals would be a great juxtaposition with Galega's fresh-green pinnate foliage.  How about backing your clump with cannas, tropical gingers, or elephant ears? 

Downsides

I'm scratching my head and still can't think of any.

Variants

The garden-worthy Hartlandii galegas are hybrids of G. officinalis and G. patula.  'Lady Wilson' has cream and pink flowers; 'Her Majesty' has lilac flowers.

Availability

On-line.

Propagation

Division.

Native habitat

Central Europe.

 
 
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