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

The Best Spring Ever: Gold-leaved Chinese Stachyurus, in Full Foliage

Gardening is all too much about failures: the plants that die, that disappoint, that invade, that flop—or, in a damningly existential tragedy, even at their best prove not to be worth the space, time, and effort. 


What saves this gardener's soul is the plants that surprise, that persist, that obey, that behave—or, in a thrillingly existential triumph, prove to be worth all possible space, time, and effort even when success is only partial.


The former are—or should be—unavoidable. If you're not killing at least some of your plants regularly, you're experiments aren't big enough. Ouch. I keep sane by maximizing the latter: In the face of all the failures, I seek out victories of any size or degree.


Here's my victory with Chinese stachyurus. Did the shrub merely survive this past hateful winter? No. It did not just limp over spring's warm-then-warmer finish line into the new season's supportive embrace. It burst into leaf to the tips of its stems.

Stachyurus chinensis all gold sport of Joy Forever 050918 overall with more Osmanthus heterophyllus Nana foreground 320

True, it didn't flower—usually the whole reason for growing the shrub. Perhaps next year. Meanwhile, with this rare gold-leaved cultivar, merely being alive is joy enough, because it's evidenced by such leaves, such stems.   

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The Best Season Ever: Hardy Orange Topiary in Bloom

Here in New England, any citrus that is hardy decade by decade is a head-spinner, a miracle. Beyond the thrill of such ongoing vivacity, there are seasonal star turns such as fall foliage, orange fall fruits, and—if the tree is trained as topiary—shapely habit in winter and early spring. Plus the spring flowers: pure white sparkles, like a freak late snow.

Poncirus trifoliata 051018 overall 320

Topiary needs close pruning, which precludes most of the flowers. The highest ball is still so young and small, though, that I'm letting it grow free-range to bulk up more quickly. Free-range, it also flowers, well, freely—and in striking contrast to the balls below. Is this hybrid training strategy—free up top, pruned below—how this topiary of hardy orange can have its floral cake and eat it, too?

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Wild Olive

Despite historically severe winter temperatures, one of the rarest broadleaved evergreens in the garden is thriving. Although native only to mild-winter reaches of southeast North America, devilwood is hardy to Maine. Not just the woody stems, either: the shiny, smooth foliage also.

Osmanthus americanus Osmanthus heterophyllus Nana 042318 overall 320

My five-foot youngster was unscathed by below-zero temperatures, and unbroken by blizzards. Hooray! One of these springs, it will begin flowering, too. 

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Today in the Garden of a Lifetime: Big-leaved Bamboo

After a winter that brought the coldest temperature in thirty years, it's no surprise that the foliage of big-leaved bamboo has long turned completely tawny. I.e., it's dead. Spring is the trough of the annual cycle of bamboos, when such dead leaves are still being shed reluctantly, and new canes and foliage have yet to emerge. 

Indocalamus tessellatus overall from the side 041818 320 

Although canes can produce new foliage, it's cleanest to give the colony a fresh start by cutting old canes to the ground. But by summer, is the result better? 

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Today in the Garden of a Lifetime: Fuzzy Cow Parsnip

"Spring" is a taunting name for a season when so many plants are anything but eager to greet days that are often only grudgingly warm. "Cautious," "Creep," or "Crawl" would be more accurate. Bulbs and some early-season woodies really do "spring" into action at the merest hint of winter's end. Most perennials, though, bide their time.

Heracleum lanatum 041318 hand overall 320

But, then, there are the cow parnips. Their foliage is gigantic by June, so must get the earliest possible start, overnight freezes of early spring be damned. The rewards for being quick-out-of-the-gate more than offset the dangers.

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Today in the Garden of a Lifetime: China Fir Rededicated

For years, I have been treating my China fir as a low-lying second banana to an espaliered gold Deodar cedar. But last week, I encountered this China fir far north of my garden: in Providence, Rhode Isand. It is thriving so bodaciously it's blocking windows of a "painted lady" Victorian house. 

Cunninghamia lanceolata Glauca 040718 overall 320

China fir is only borderline hardy even in my garden thirty miles farther south. But this free-range specimen is lusty and even out of control, and yet it's significantly farther north. How could I not welcome mine into the upper reaches of the cozy espalier it shares with the Deodar cedar?

Read more ...

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