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: Purple-leaved Spinach Bugleweed

 ajuga-reptans-metallica-crispa-from-the-side-w -fingers-050213-640


At first glance, the spikes of blue flowers of this ajuga seem normal. But they are so short: only half the height of my fingers. That big green "monster" at back-right is European ginger, which at this time of year is barely three inches high.


Purple-leaved spinach ajuga has a complicated relationship with height. When not in bloom, its habit is downright acrophobic. Then Ajuga pyramidalis 'Metallica Crispa Purpurea' grows in tight rosettes of leaves that hug the ground in textural mats, like crinkled purple aluminum foil that's been discarded on some planet where the gravitational pull is many times that of Earth. The stiff growth is so prostrate it seems bolted down.


In Spring, when the plant is in flower, it positively soars. The spikes of lavender-blue flowers are just the obvious verticalities.




At ground level, the plated prostrate foliage—which was undaunted by Winter when this colony was last photographed in January—has been abandoned. The Spring leaves are small and, at least for this ajuga, not confined to the lowest possible elevation: They have left as much as a quarter inch between their underside and the ground. A few high flyers have emerged from the flower stalks; they must be an inch or more high. Golly.



ajuga-reptans-metallica-crispa-from-above-w -fingers-050312-cropped-640


Angling toward my middle finger is one of the plant's runners. It seems likely to extend a couple of inches to the left of its mother rosette. Perhaps "inchers" is a better term than "runners."


By Summer, all of this levitation will have been tamped down. The flower stalks will be through, the "inchers" will have found their patch of new territory to root into, and the Spring leaves of established rosettes will have matured to their "squashed by high gravity" habit. This plant's seasonal fling with high elevation will have become a secret once again.


Here's how to grow purple-leaved spinach bugleweed—plus pictures of the ground-hugging habit this tough, evergreen perennial prefers when not in flower.

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