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: Common Marsh Poker

There are so many torch lilies, huge to lilliputian, tender to hardy, brazenly colorful to suavely reserved. I grow many in-ground, but I've been wary about planting out one of the biggest, Kniphofia linearifolia, until it was big and, therefore, as hardy as could be.

 

Overwintering in-ground kniphofias can be quite a project; potted "knips" can just sit, dormant, in a cool greenhouse.

 

kniphofia-linearifolia-semi-dormant-before-012413-640

 

Without water, they begin to look like this bedraggled Medusa. So what? The plant was dormant—until I realized that it wasn't dormant any longer. New leaves were emerging all over.

 

kniphofia-linearifolia-new-sprouts-before-012413-640

 

How to be rid of the old foliage? When knips are overwintered in-ground, the old foliage all gradually turns brown, and in Spring you can cut it all off in one fell swoop.

 

But with the new foliage of this potted knip already emerging, I would need to do battle leaf by leaf. Would it be a tedium of following each brown leaf back to its base, and then cutting it off? Ugh.

 

kniphofia-linearifolia-old-growth-to-be-removed-012413-640

 

Happily, much of the old foliage came free just by combing through the clump with my fingers. And the rest could be easily pulled free, leaf by leaf, just by grabbing a brown tip and giving a yank.

 

kniphofia-linearifolia-overall-all-cleaned-up-012413-640

 

The new leaves were undisturbed, and the old ones were out of the picture, literally. I'd prevent more brown leaves by keeping the clump well watered. After all, in the cool-but-frost-free greenhouse, the clump was probably experiencing temperatures and short days that would approximate the mild and wet Winters of its native South Africa. To complete the imitation, all I had to do was supply the wet, I mean the water.

 

kniphofia-linearifolia-new-growth-and-all-cleaned-up-012413-640

 

This Spring, I'll add Kniphofia linearifolia to my in-ground collection, which thrives in rich but very well-drained soil in the red gardens. This species is particularly large—the foliage alone can reach five feet tall and wide, with the shamelessly bi-color flower heads higher still—so it will be at the back of the bed, currently a knip-free zone. There will be room, because a groundhog has taken up residence, and last Summer demonstrated his affection for dahlias by eating them all to the ground. Without those four- and five-foot "bushes" in Summer, the red garden has openings for something big.

 

Here's how to grow a fairly similar kniphofia, the 'Cool Knip' cultivar. It has chilly yellow-green flowers, and is a bit hardier.  If you grow Kniphofia linearifolia in-ground, you might choose to overwinter it with the "extreme mulching" technique discussed in the "How to" boxes for 'Cool Knip'.

 

 
 
FacebookTwitterRSS Feed

Stay in touch!

 

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

 

* indicates required