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: Redneck Rhododendron in the Midst of Spring Cleaning





Flowers and eager young growth are Spring's big themes, so plants whose leaves are dying really stick out. This redneck rhododendron has plenty of yellow leaves that are, clearly, at the end of their lifespan. They just barely retain their bond with the branch: As soon as my finger touched the one in the picture above, it fell off.


In itself, the shedding of foliage that's past its "sell date" might not mean anything. How many billions and billions of leaves are shed each Fall, as deciduous species drop their leaves in preparation for Winter?


What we mean when we call a species "evergreen" is that it holds its leaves through the Winter. Just because those leaves are tough enough to persist through the cold months doesn't mean that they're immortal. It might take a couple of years instead of just one growing season, but all evergreen leaves eventually reach the end of their natural lifespans. Then they lose their green color and (usually) are shed.


Oddly, the "shedding season" for many evergreens is Spring, and the sudden profusion of leaves that have the colors normally seen in Fall can make the plants look out of season at best, or distressed at worst. In fact, they are happily keeping to their own yearly cycles. American holly, white pines—and redneck rhododendrons—all shed old foliage in Spring.


As long as new foliage is developing normally at the tips of the branches, all is well. And, indeed, the tip of this branch of Daphniphyllum macropodum is bursting with new growth.




In a week or two, all of the old leaves will have fallen off—by which time the new foliage will be well on the way to unfurling to its adult size.


By Summer, this evergreen shrub's annual bout of Spring cleaning will be just a memory.



 Here's how to grow redneck rhododendron.

FacebookTwitterRSS Feed

Stay in touch!


Sign up for twice-monthly eNews, plus notification of new posts:


* indicates required