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 Key West: American Beautyberry



Metallic lavender berries, and by the thousands! How could any garden be without beautyberry? This form of the shrub—Callicarpa americana—is one of the few plants that thrives in the pure tropics of the Keys, where the temperature never falls below forty degrees Fahrenheit, as well as in New England, where (ugh) two feet of snow is possible.


The berries of this large colony in Key West could hardly be more profuse. And yet the shrub is at its best when the climate isn't as mellow. Sure, when frost never arrives, the shrub can be productive year-round, producing a new cluster of small pink flowers with every new leaf.




Each cluster of flowers matures to a cluster of berries—and when the climate is frost-free, the display lasts month after month.




And yet, the display in climates that do receive frost is even better. If the shrub is drought-stressed—which, in the sandy soil and unending hot sun of the Keys, is almost inevitable—the edges of the foliage can scorch. And because there's never any frost, that damaged foliage persists month after month, right along with the show of berries.




Even if the foliage remained in perfect condition, though, its mere presence is a distraction from the berries. The green leaves of beautyberry are boring, not just profuse.


In sterner northern climates, frost causes the foliage to drop but, for a time, doesn't harm the berries. For a precious couple of weeks, the branches of Callicarpa hang heavy with berry that, thanks to the absence of foliage, is on full display. The show of a large and well-grown colony is one of the peaks of the year.  


True, in a few more weeks, even more severe frosts will have also put the kibosh on the berries. Without fruit, stems of Callicarpa shrubs aren't interesting whether or not they have foliage. (Big exception: The leaves of the variegated cultivar, C. dichotoma 'Duet', are edged in white. Hooray!) No matter: In a month or two after the northern show of beautyberry is done, it's high time to escape to the tropics to enjoy the shrub's show of berries all over again.


Here's how even-more-stunning beautyberry can look in climates cold enough to cause the shrub to shed its leaves.


Here's a look at the unusual white-fruited form of beautyberry, and how to grow Callicarpa in general.


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