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

Fischer's Ligularia

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You can have one or another daisy in bloom from earliest Spring through frost, as long as you're friends with bright yellow, that is. For me, Fischer's ligularia is one of the first daisies of September.

 

Tight spikes of bright yellow flowers stand tall all by themselves—such a relief in a month when there're inevitably so many other plants that need staking. 

 

My Ligularia fischeri is, truth to tell, a scrawny runt, not even three feet tall.  In better circumstances it would be twice that. 

 

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"Better" means wetter. Then the foliage would be so large and so thick it would be weedproof, let alone fresh green instead of scorched.  Then the flower spikes would shoot up a couple of feet farther before even considering whether the flowers should begin. 

 

This plant has been dwarfed by dryness, but there's no prize for gardening-as-deprivation. What to do to provide more water—other than lugging over the watering can each morning, that is? This Fall I'll dig up the clump, excavate a broad and deep "ten dollar hole" in its place, line it with heavy black plastic, fill it high with an embarrasment of compost and horse bedding, and replant the clump.  Oh yes: I'll poke down with a peastake to make just one drainage hole through the plastic into the native soil. The plant will settle back into place over the Winter and still be ready for action by Spring.

 

Replanted in this custom little bog garden, my Fischer's should finally bulk up to its preferred dimensions. And if that still doesn't provide the moisture it craves, I'll grow this water-hungry perennial in a large pot sitting in a few inches of water. Thank goodness I'm as wild about galvanized washtubs in the garden as I am about yellow daisies in the garden.

 

 

Here's how to grow this large and moisture-loving perennial:

Latin Name

Ligularia fischeri

Common Name

Fischer's Ligularia

Family

Asteraceae, the Aster family.

What kind of plant is it?

Hardy flowering perennial.

Hardiness

Zones 5 - 9.

Habit

Clumping with basal hosta-like foliage that contrasts with tall vertical spikes of small yellow daisies.

Rate of Growth

Fast, at least when happy.

Size in ten years

In leaf, a clump four feet across and three feet high; to six feet high when in bloom.  Maximum growth only with rich soil and all possible water.

Texture

The round green leaves have the same presence as those of a hosta:  Fairly full to the ground, and overlapping enough to work as groundcover.  The vertical spikes of flowers that rise above the leaves by (if you're lucky) two or three feet, by contrast, are at delphinium-like attention.

Grown for

its flowers: The vertical spikes of (as usual for ligularias) frankly-yellow aster-like flowers are an easy and orderly rhythm, always welcome in any September garden, where perennials and even tropicals can be getting a little long in the tooth. 

 

its ease of growth: Quick and self-reliant if circumstances are congenial (see "How to handle it." below).

 

its lateness of bloom: September.

Flowering season

Late Summer: September 

Culture

Rich soil that never lacks for water.  More shade with anything less; more and more sun if more and more water is available.  In my garden that's almost Zone 7, this very hardy perennial—to Zone 5—doesn't require the excellent Winter drainage of plants whose hardiness I'm trying to enhance. 

How to handle it

Shade in the afternoon is usually the best choice: regardless of the amount of available water, ligularia foliage tends to wilt in hot late-day sun.  It recovers the minute (well, the hour) the sun wanes, and the plant doesn't seem to have minded, either.  But because of its very size, a wilted ligularia still looks mighty stressed, and when you'll be most likely to be in the garden to see it, too.

 

Ligularia fischeri seems particularly water-hungry, even for a ligularia; this is the plant to grow in near-boggy conditions or in a large container standing in a few inches of water. 

 

Ligularias are "comfortable in their skin" just like hostas and peonies, and can grow for many years without division.  Self-seeding is modest, at least in my experience, so there's no rush to dead-head when the flowers fade.  Ligularias' need for plentiful water, however, means that they're not interested in competing with tree roots, which hostas do so famously.  Nor are they interested in dry shade.  Either give them regular-to-rich garden soil with full sun until, oh, one o'clock, or give them regular-to-rich woodland garden conditions with dappled shade all day.  Happily, both conditions are perfect for their perfect aesthetic partners, ferns of all sorts.

Downsides

The generosity of the late-Summer flowering, as well as the lushness of the foliage, both depend on consistent and plentiful moisture all season long.  An earlier-season bloomer, such as L. x palmatiloba, which blooms in July, is easier to handle.  It's still likely to have the water it needs then, and if the coming August droughts brown the foliage, you're not as likely to notice anyway.

Variants

Few gardens should be without several ligularias, where the large foliage can be had in various shapes (pointed, lacy, toothy, or lotus-round); hues, from bright green to purple-blushed (especially on the back) to deep mahogany top and bottom, in the exciting cultivar 'Brit Marie Crawford'; and sizes, from the three-inch leaves of plants that are eighteen-inch munchkins to the foot-and-then-some leaves of plants that are as tall as you are.

 

The dense vertical spikes of smaller flowers, as with L. fischeri, is only one option.  Other ligularias, such as L. x palmatiloba, bloom with loose flat sprays of much larger daisies that are also (like it or loathe it) the same shade of deep orange-yellow you've seen on school buses for decades.

Availability

On-line and at destination retailers.

Propagation

This species Ligularia can be propagated by seed as well as by division in Fall or Spring.

Native habitat

Ligularia fischeri is native to eastern Asia.

 
 
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