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

Gold Angel shrub-mint, in bloom!

leucosceptrum-japonicum-golden-angel-flowers-640

 

Who said shrub-mint doesn't have showy flowers?  Whoops:  It was me, back in late June when these late-September flowers were just a rumor. 

 

It must have been the heat.  These flowers are terrific five-inch spikes of cream-and-green energy, accented (look closely) with bands of buff and (get out your magnifier) dots of brick.  Just when the foliage of 'Gold Angel' was calming down from the fluorescent yellow of Spring and Summer, the flowers bring in some welcome action as well as a more nuanced aesthetic. 

 

I'm down in Manhattan for the day, so can't check if 'Gold Angel' is a faithful believer in bloom or a proud heretic among its fellow shrub-mintians.  And is it early to show or right with the pack?  Stay tuned for the continuing news.

 

 

Here's how to grow this luminous, shade-loving, hog-the-spotlight perennial:

 

Latin Name

Leucosceptrum japonicum 'Gold Angel'

Common Name

'Gold Angel' Japanese shrub-mint

Family

Lamiaceae, the Mint family.

What kind of plant is it?

Herbaceous perennial.

Hardiness

Zones 4 - 8.

Habit

Upright, full-to-the-ground, and steadily-spreading.

Rate of Growth

Medium.

Size in ten years

A colony three feet tall and four or five feet wide.

Texture

Dense and substantial, with similar large-leaved bulk to a rhododendron, albeit with vastly more colorful foliage.

Grown for

the solid-yellow leaves, which are so bright even in the afternoon shade that this cultivar requires, that they could be lighted from within.

 

the late-season bottlebrush flowers, more of a welcome surprise than a showy display in themselves.

 

the sheer oddity and surprise of the plant.

Flowering season

Late: The end of September into October here in Rhode Island.

Culture

Easy!  Almost any reasonable soil and drainage, with some shade in the afternoon.

How to handle it

Shrub-mints are tough, dependable, and exciting components of morning-sun gardens.  In milder climates stems can remain viable through the Winter, but even so, these are probably best grown like a true perennial, with all the stems cut to the ground in early Spring. 

 

Despite the "mint" name, there is no rampant colonizing, although the colony's outward march is still steady.  Best, then, as the small guy in a primarily woody neighborhood, so it can explore as a groundcover into the shady reaches of adjacent taller shrubs and ornamental trees.

 

The foliage can scorch with too much sun, another reason that these are such natural partners to taller (and therefore shade-providing) shrubs and trees, especially when growing to the East of them. 

 

If the foliage does get damaged, just cut stems back to the ground for a fresh crop.

Downsides

None.

Variants

So far, I've never met a shrub-mint I didn't want to grow.  'Mountain Madness' has recklessly yellow-splotched foliage.  'Silver Angel' has narrower foliage that is silver, indeed.  L. stellipilum has the largest foliage of all, but it's just green, true.  L. stellipilum 'October Moon' has the same fat leaves, but edged in chartreuse.  The plant looks very much like a plectranthus that has—who knew?—suddenly become a hardy perennial. 

Availability

On-line and sometimes at "destination" retailers.

Propagation

Division, as well as cuttings.

Native habitat

Japan.

 
 
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