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


Seven-Son Tree in Bloom

September is a miracle month for any woody plant just entering into bloom. Not still flowering since July and August (take that, Rose of Sharon), nor drying-gracefully-in-place since June (take that, hydrangeas). I mean fresh-as-a-daisy flowering, with just-now-getting-up-on-the-horse-for-that-first-trot-around-the-track-in-September blooms. Like, say, this singular species of ornamental tree from Asia, the seven-son tree.

Heptacodium miconioides upper wands 091117 320

The flowers are sparkly white, fragrant, and in large clusters that seem to tip every stem. And, in New England at least, they are at their peak in September. Astoundingly, this floral show is merely the prelude to another display in October that's even more intriguing. Now that I think of it, seven-son flower puts on a memorable display each season. Year-round, this is one essential tree.

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The Best Season Ever: Copper Spoons & Friends

Although all hundred-plus species of kalanchoe are hardy only in dry subtropics and tropics, some of them are so eccentric, easy, and ornamental that they are essential container specimens everywhere. My kalanchoe collection is still modest but, even so, each member is is so distinct that you can enjoy its best view only by orienting yourself very specifically.

Kalanchoe orgyalis Kalanchoe luciae side 090217 320

On the left is paddle plant, whose nesting pairs of large leaves are particularly stunning when seen from the side. At the right is copper spoons, which is merely grey and tan from this vantage. But from above? Thrilling!

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The Best Season Ever: Ehemanii Canna

When you've drunk the Koolaid as deeply as I have—in this case, from the cup labeled "Cannas! Yum!"—each little difference, one cultivar to the next, can send you soaring.

 

And with cannas, there are zillions of differences among the many hundreds of cultivars: overall size; leaf shape, size, color, and variegation; flowers, ditto; tubers, ditto; showy stems or seeds; and aquatic or terrestrial habitats. Perhaps most elusive is current societal verdict: is a given canna now perceived as tacky, elegant, classic (but still possibly tacky), shocking-but-fun, shockingly-new-but-fun, or downright kick-ass?

Canna x ehemanii 081917 320

Canna x ehemannii defines its own category: classic, difficult to source, and—unique in all cannas—with pendulous flowers. After many years of not finding Ehemanii (or not finding it before the sources were sold out for that season), I finally scored. It will now be mine forever. When you've drunk the Canna Koolaid, this is big news.

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Must Have: Bottlebrush Buckeye

Could any shrub in full flower be more exciting? Especially in August, when the flowering woody plants here in New England are so often hydrangeas, butterfly bushes, and roses of sharon.

Aesculus parviflora overall 080517 320

Bottlebrush buckeye isn't just on my list of top-ten shrubs hardy in Zone 5; it tops it. No garden should be without it, and I've used it for decades in projects for clients. Why then, is this magnificent speciment not mine but, rather, one seen by the roadside in Lenox, MA? Why haven't I established bottlebrush buckeye in my own garden?

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Red Oaks, Extraordinary at any Size

Let an acorn sprout and in sixty years or so, you, too, could be looking at a mighty oak. Here is one of a slew of red oaks thriving along the Niagara River, which connects Lake Erie with Lake Ontario. I was fortunate to stroll past such monarchs, one after another, on a morning walk during an annual trip to theater festivals in Ontario.

Quercus rubra NOTL overall 080417 320

Quercus rubra is also easy to establish in a garden. But how many of us can welcome a tree with a mature shade-providing canopy seventy feet or more wide? Not me. Happily, other talents than size make red oak a possibility even for a garden that's lilliputian or, in my case, large but packed with sun lovers.

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Early-flowering Borage in Full Foliage

By Summer, early-flowering borage gives no clue that it had ever had a passion for anything other than foliage, with huge heart-shaped leaves that are as thick and overlapping as those of any hosta. Colonies spread diligently, so a single clump will eventually cover several square yards unless restrained. 

Trachystemon orientalis 051517 overall 320

The leaves are rough to the touch and, so, are pretty much left alone by browsers. This borage, then, is a fearless groundcover that goes where no hosta dare. Could any garden have too much of it? Not mine.

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