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

Castor Aralia, More Spiky than Ever

Six years ago, my castor aralia had just three stems. Now there are a dozen or so. They'll remain leafless until new foliage emerges in spring, so their freakish thorniness is in full reveal.

Kalopanax septimlobus var. maximowiczii 113017 base of trunks 320

For me, even one viciously thorny branch that is naked from November through April is one kind of heaven. More please!  

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Leatherleaf Viburnums

Viburnums lack the colorful flowers of rhododendrons and roses but, especially in climate zone 6 and colder, are far more useful. But being thought of as merely functional would be to damn them with faint praise.


Thankfully, it's possible to look beyond those other shrubs' flowers. Actually, it's a relief to do so: it frees you to appreciate the rest of the world of shrubbery on its own terms. 


Such as viburnums. Below, a so-called leatherleaf viburnum. 

 Viburnum rhytidophyllum Green Trump 112017 overall 320


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Today in the Garden of a Lifetime: Wingnut Cascade

Wingnut puts on a show year-round: stripe-barked stems in winter, spikes of white flowers in summer and, summer into winter, these clusters of papery-winged seeds—the "nuts," if you will.  

Trypterigium regelii 111417 best overall 320

One quirk among many with this plant is that, while the spikes of white flowers are upright, even vertical, by the time the winged seeds that follow have matured, the spikes will have plunged downward. Ah, for a stop-action camera to capture this arc of fruitfulness.


These clusters cry out to be harvested for cold-weather bouquets and wreaths, but they are also showy in the garden. Can their "on the hoof" display be enhanced?   

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Box-leaf Privet

Over weeks each fall, truckloads of container specimens decamp from the garden to the greenhouse. Add the gradual die-off of the warm-weather annuals, plus the digging up of the tropical tubers, and you have a massive seasonal exodus. 


The hardy plants are left in high relief. This, then, is the season to rediscover them. What have they been doing, and how well are they doing it?


Take box-leaf privet. 

Ligustrum sinense Wimbei fingers 110717 320

I have two, and they've been enjoying their second full growing season. Recent deep frosts haven't yet damaged their foliage, so it's a great time for a closer look.

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Red Oak Topiary-to-Be

Topiary is the training of any plant into a shape it couldn't achieve on its own. "Training" mostly means pruning, so topiary also makes plants compact, not just shapely. Topiary from shade trees, then, is an ultimate victory, maintaining a creature that might otherwise become eighty feet high and wide at a fraction of that. 


Beech trees are the usual choice for shade-tree topiary. (I'm on it!) But what about oaks? Here's a very young red oak, at the fall peak of its namesake coloring. 

Quercus rubra mis en scene cropped 110717 320 

Right now, it's dwarfed by a nearby perennial, but if full size, it would be larger than my house. As topiary, it will never become larger than me. Here's the prelude to that excitement.

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Swamp Mallow Summer to Fall

Cherry-red flowers of swamp mallow begin in August, and the last blooms might not appear until November. Mallow stems are colorful, too. Burgundy in summer, they turn salmon as frost nears, and keep up the show even into winter.

 Hibiscus coccineus Broussonetia 090717 320

Burgundy and salmon play well with many other colors, but cherry red is tricky: It's too pink for a red garden, too red for a pink. This perennial performs best when it has the stage to itself. No problem!

Read more ...

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