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: Prickly Pear Cactus



In warm weather, prickly pear cacti flaunt large colorful flowers, on pads held erect. In cold weather, the pads reduce their water content enough so they don't freeze, resulting in the wrinkly and deflated look here.


This cultivar of Opuntia humifusa, 'Claude Barr', is particularly hardy, and stays low to the ground even at its perkiest. In the Winter, a colony looks like it was squashed by a semi while trying to cross the road.


Cacti as cold-weather roadkill.




Cacti that droop in cold weather help us look through the other end of the telescope. The important point is not that the cacti are wrinkly and floppy in February. No, the excitement is that they are perfectly hardy even though this isn't a classic cactus habitat—dry, above all—such as the southwest United States, Namibia, or Morocco. Dozens of cacti not only persist, but actually thrive, in climates that wouldn't seem at all helpful. Like mine here in New England: Sort-of-hot Summer, definitely-cold Winter, and one or both can be wet for weeks.  


And yet this cactus is growing well. As long as it's planted on a slope, in lean soil, 'Claude Barr' is unusually tolerant of Winter wet. It couldn't care less about cold, itself: the plant is hardy well into Canada. I'm growing it in one of my big troughs, in soil that's seriously sandy, too, so it's an easy keeper.


If a succulent could ever have an emotional state, this one's would be labeled as Content. In June, I'll post this plant again, by which time it will be reinflated and in flower. Then, its emotional state will be Pleased and Proud.


Here's how to grow a larger and somewhat less hardy form of prickly pear; all forms of Opuntia humifusa can be handled the same way. Because 'Claude Barr' is unusually hardy and moisture-tolerant, it's even easier to establish in circumstances that might not provide the ideal of sharp drainage through the Winter.

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