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: Fern-leaved Corydalis



After the last heavy snow finally melted, I realized that the foliage of fern-leaved Corydalis—which could hardly look more delicate and ephemeral in Spring and Summer—has survived the Winter handily. The leaves seem as finely-divided as those of any fern, the leaflets' intense "dividedness" and slate-blue coloring are both enhanced by the rosy-pink edging. And yet these are the leaves that have been buried under twenty inches of snow, and have endured dozens of freezes and thaws since cold weather arrived in earnest in November.




How do these leaves do it? First, by not being the same large-and-lush leaves as the ones of last Spring and Summer. Those leaves were several times the size of these, and their limp, blackened remnants lie all around these fresh and, clearly, Winter-loving new ones.


Corydalis cheilanthifolia begins forming its Winter-hardy crop of leaves in the Fall, and continues to produce additional ones as long as the weather isn't stridently cold. Far from being a liability, the leaves' comparative minuteness is the key to their toughness. The leaves already have much of the structure they need to mature, but they've held back on absorbing all the water—inflating with it—that, next Spring, will expand them to their full size.


Their small size is the sign of their lack of inflation, which, in turn, means that the proportion of water-to-structure is so low that the water has great difficulty in freezing. It's too diluted by all those structural components.


Small leaves, then, are normally more Winter-proof than larger ones. They are typical for deciduous species that want to get the jump on Spring by expanding their tiny overwintering leaves to full-size and full-function warm-weather ones while the leaves of other plants are still just forming. 


Here's how to grow Corydalis cheilanthifolia.


What about some other hardy plants that produce a special set of small-but-tough foliage each Fall, to be all the more ready to grow come Spring? Here's a look at the Winter-hardy leaves of the butterfly bush, Buddleja davidii. Here's a look at the Winter-hardy leaves of the wayfaring tree, Viburnum lantana.


Most cacti, especially the Winter-hardy ones, don't retain their true leaves; their stems—often swollen into pancake shapes known as pads—function as their leaves. To overwinter those pads, the cacti reduced their water content so low that the pads won't freeze. The pads look floppy and deflated, but that's the sign that they have become Winter-hardy for the season. Here's a look at one of my hardy cacti in its full "Winter deflation."

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