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 Key West: Sweet Almond Verbena

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In the tropics, the competition among flowers is intense. Some plants succeed through dogged persistence: They flower year-round. Others might only flower for a few weeks a year, but with flowers of such size, profusion, and coloring that the display could show up on Google earth.

 

What to make of almond verbena, with small spikes of tiny white flowers? Ho hum—until, that is, you take a breath. The powerful almond fragrance perfumes the garden, and is penetrating enough to take your breath away. 

 

Aloysia virgata isn't hardy much farther north than North Carolina. But, if anything, the shrub is even more prized when the climate is too rough for it to be hardy on its own. For such fragrance, it's worth it to provide your most favored and sheltered site in the garden, or to grow the shrub in a container. It's easy, too.

 

One other benefit to growing the shrub where success isn't guaranteed? You don't take the plant for granted. In Key West, the specimen below flowers year-round, while growing lustily all the while. Familiarity must have bred contempt, in that it doesn't seem to have had any grooming for months. Instead, the shrub has been allowed to grow into a twiggy haystack.

 

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Because the flowers of sweet almond verbena are formed on new growth, why let old growth, long through with flowering, take up space? And—as above—look like a mess at the same time?

 

Instead, at the beginning of the growing season prune this eager shrub back severely, cutting it back to stumps with the same confidence that you would up North with a butterfly bush, Buddleja davidii. Or train one stem up a stake, where it will soon thicken into a trunk. Then cut all the side branches back to nubs periodically, so your shrub forms a beautiful as well as stunningly-fragrant standard.

 

Either way, you'll enjoy the shrub's almond perfume without needing to avert your eyes.

 

Here's how to grow sweet almond verbena.

 
 
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