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

Today in the Garden of a Lifetime: Sea Myrtle in Bloom



November is peak season for the flowers of sea myrtle.  This oddball aster cousin—the only one of the many woody aster species that's hardy colder than the subtropics—is native from Nova Scotia to Texas.  Foliage, habit, diversity of habitat, and deer-resistance are some of this shrub's many talents.  This season, yet another has become vividly obvious: The burgundy base of the shrub's fluffy apetalous flowers makes it a no-brainer partner to plants with burgundy foliage.




I'm growing a couple of Baccharis halimifolia in containers, and in the haste of the Spring and Summer I placed them near a colony of purple-leaved barbery, Berberis thunbergii 'Helmond Pillar'.  The blue foliage of Baccharis was an adept Summer partner to the dark leaves of this Berberis.  But when the Baccharis flowers emerged in late October, an additional color partnering was created:  Burgundy with burgundy.  It was at once more exciting as well as more subtle, and at this point in life, there's a connection between the two.  Creating contrast with "big-foot" juxtapositions—say, yellow-leaved catalpa next to purple-leaved beech!—is an easy brashness of youth.




Next Summer, I might plant my Baccharis near a purple-leaved partner to make such a Fall pairing of flowers and foliage permanent.  The trick is to choose purple foliage that lasts as long as the flowers.  Berberis leaves don't withstand as much frost as Baccharis flowers, so this exciting contrast may be cut short.  Besides, the contrast in shape between the small rounded Berberis leaves and the small somewhat-less-rounded Baccharis leaves isn't very vigorous.


The pointier leaves of Physocarpus opulifolius 'Summer Wine' are livelier, and hold their strong purple-red coloring right through really hard frosts.  But afterwards, there will still be the bush's bare brown stems—as exciting as they are—near fluffy Baccharis flowers.


What about an evergreen partner with purple foliage?  There are no evergreens hardy to Zone 6, coniferous or broadleaved, whose foliage is purple year-round.  But there are some evergreens whose foliage isn't, literally, green forever.  Instead, it changes to burgundy with the arrival of Fall frosts, just when the flowers of Baccharis are at their showiest.


A first example:  Whip-cord cedar: Cryptomeria japonica 'Araucarioides'.  I have a group of three—a small grove, really—developing in the garden's arboretum.  Perhaps an underplanting of Baccharis is in their future.



Here's how to grow sea myrtle.

FacebookTwitterRSS Feed

Stay in touch!


Sign up for twice-monthly eNews, plus notification of new posts:


* indicates required