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: Sausage Vine

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Few plants appreciate a long hot Summer as much as the sausage vine that's thriving much farther north than its usual haunt, from Philadelphia south.  Mine has been very happily exploring the Himalayan cedar that's espaliered against the south wall that helps enclose the terrace. 

 

With Winter's approach, it's high time to check back in with the vine after its Summer of unfettered fun.  The puzzles to resolve are aesthetic as well as functional.  With the encouragement of the Summer's hot sun and long days, the fast-growing vine has scampered up the front of the cedar, only occasionally twining back into the conifer's growth for support. 

 

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Sausage vine is unusual this far north, and the vine's stems and leathery evergreen foliage will survive the Winter in better shape if they are more intimately associated with the cedar.  My hope is to make the vine so comfortable it will not just flower, but also fruit.  (Got any other ideas for a plant that bears sausage-like fruits that are a chilly blue-purple?)

 

The cedar's flexible stems and feathery foliage will function just like a wool scarf:  The tree won't keep the vine warm per se: The cedar's limbs and needles will always be as cold as the air, but they will muffle wind and, so, reduce the wind chill.  And just like true feathers, the cedar's overlapping growth traps both air and warmth from the sun. 

 

The lengthy stems of Stauntonia hexaphylla are easy to pull free from the cedar, and then reposition at the back side of the cedar's trunk.

 

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Then the stems are tied to the trunk's back side.  The trunk itself is a shield from wind, and also supports the stems in the likely event that the entire planting becomes coated with wet snow or even ice from a Winter storm.

 

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Some of the upper stems that branch from the "trunked" ones are then trained out along the back sides of the cedar espalier's horizontal limbs. 

 

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How much will this repositioning help?  Winter hardiness isn't all-or-nothing, black-or-white, successful-or-not.  It's usually just a matter of degree. 

 

—Can the wind be somewhat lessened?  It will be now that the the stems have been brought from the front of the cedar back into the space between the cedar and the clapboard wall of the house.

 

—Can the roots be growing in ground that doesn't freeze quite as fast or deep?  They are, now, because last year I trained a couple of stems right along the foundation, where they've rooted in and then sent up the stems that are being trained against the back-side of the cedar today.

 

—Can the orientation of the plant be towards west and south sun, but not towards east sun, which can warm the leaves in the morning before the roots can bring up more moisture from the chilly ground?  Done!

 

In Spring, we'll know if these incremental assists were enough to enable this Stauntonia hexaphylla to flower and fruit.

 

Here's how to grow sausage vine.  

 

 
 
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