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

February Daphne Explores the Garden

So-called "February" daphne really is in bloom that month if you encounter it in Seattle or London. Here in New England, February is still too cold for the flowers themselves—but not for their green calyces.

Daphne mezereum f. Alba 020318 driveway 320

In the strange way of these shrubs, my original February daphne thrived for years before dying for no apparent reason. But I still have the species in my garden: These are stems of one of the self-seeded volunteers.

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Dwarf Sea Buckthorn

Ah, trough gardens in summer! Here's one that I've planted exclusively with plants that demand lean, dry soil. Think sand with a side of gravel. Prickly pear cactus was a natural, as were the creeping yellow-leaved sedum and (look closely) the broom at the left.

Hippophae rhamnoides Sprite overall 081417 320

But what about the silver-leaved shrub at the center? It's the unique dwarf cultivar of sea buckthorn. The species is often a rangy monster, but this cultivar may never top two feet. Did I mention that it's hardy to Zone 3? That's Nome, Alaska.

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Golden European Ash, Garden to Brushpile to Vase

With yolk-yellow bark and ebony-black bud scales, young stems of golden ash are stunning. Even more stems? An even better show. So I cut off the oldest stems to encourage plenty of new ones, and also to keep the tree as compact as a shrub. Then, everything is more-or-less at eye level.  

Fraxinus excelsior Aureafolia before pruning 011918 320 

A bigger-than-usual pruning meant a pile of older stems on the brushpile—with all their gorgeous younger stems still attached. Why leave that colorful show behind? In ten minutes, I harvested the youngsters as a hostess gift for a dinner party. 

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Evergreen Barberry

One of gardening's mysteries is why the deciduous barberries—Berberis thunbergii in particular—are omnipresent even where evergreen barberries are also hardy. This is Berberis replicata, so desirable and yet so rarely planted it doesn't even have a decent common name. 

Berberis replicata fingers foliage spines 11141 320

This shrub is hardy to coastal Maine, deer-proof, with quality foliage & fragrant flowers—and it doesn't seem to self-seed. Under any name, it's essential.

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The Best Season Ever: Meyer Lemons in Fruit

Provided you take the place of insect pollinators, Meyer lemons eagerly produce their uniquely sweet fruits even when they spend much of their lives indoors. 

Citrus x meyeri fruit hand 122817 320

Last January I was, paint brush in hand, gamely assisting with pollination of the blossoms of my pair of young trees. A year later, luscious fruits are dropping from heavy-laden branches. The crop is so precocious, so bountiful, that supportive staking seemed urgent lest the fecund branches snap. True, picking the fruit helps, too.

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The Best Season Ever: Planetree Bark

In January, the garden enters its most somber season. No plant is in flower, and few even have leaves, let alone ones that are still green. And yet, for some woody plants that are leafless—deciduous, in other words—the dead of winter is a peak season. These are the shrubs and trees with interesting bark. 


Like a plane tree. The bark of this one is typical, with large irregular patches that have flaked away to reveal deeper layers of contrasting shades.

Platanus x acerifolia Suttneri 122917 fingers exfoliated portion 122917 320

Even though the unusual foliage of this kind of plane—Suttner's variegated—make the tree worth planting for that warm-weather show alone, the leaves' size and profusion do largely obscure the bark. Winter is the bark's time to command the stage solo. 

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