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


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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One of the World's Great Camperdown Elms

For about twenty-five years, we have been visiting Langdon Hall, a former estate in Ontario that thrives as a Relais & Chateaux hotel. Its gravitational pull is strong as well as multivalent: nearness to the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, sumptuous rooms, adventurous foraged as well as estate-grown food, extensive gardens—and, shading much of the terrace, one of the world's great Camperdown elms.

Ulmus glabra Camperdownii Langdon Hall long view towards back of house 072717 320

I've written with a mixture of reverence, giddiness, and geeky gratitude about a sizable Camperdown in our neighboring village back in Rhode Island. Its steeply cascading canopy could form a children's hideaway. The canopy of this Camperdown projects more sideways than down and, after a century or so, could now comfortably shade a dinner for forty. Why the difference?

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Good Together: Yellow Ribbon Arborvitae, Alaska Midnight Daylily, Gold-leaved Raspberry

When colorful plants are near one another, a conversation about color begins. Is the hue of one the same as that of another? Just a bit different? A full-on contrast? A clash? If the plants in question are each just a single color, the chatter can become monotonous. But if even one of the plants is multicolored, the conversation deepens and even sparkles.

 Thuja occidentalis Yellow Ribbon Hemerocallis Alaska Midnight hand 071517 320

Take this red-and-yellow daylily, Alaska Midnight. Its color scheme has a shimmering complexity that keeps at the table a "single topic" companion like the Yellow Ribbon arborvitae. You'll stick around, too.

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Good Together: Pink-flowered Wild Hydrangea & Huldine Clematis

Many pink-flowered hydrangeas are a puzzle. If your soil's too acid, the pink of mopheads & lacecaps can become blue. Unless, of course, the winter was so severe that the flower-producing growth had been killed first. Although the later-season pink of oakleaf and PG hydrangea flowers is inevitable, it's often a mixed blessing when these shrubs are highlights of gardens that would prefer to continue celebrating yellow, orange, and red right through to frost.

Hydrangea arborescens Invincibelle Spirit Clematis Huldine 070215 with Kosteletzkya virginica 320

Pink-flowered wild hydrangea's the answer when you need pink that's bullet-proof regardless of soil pH or when the previous winter was evil and arctic. Hooray!

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Good Together: Siberian Cow Parsnip, Purple Osmanthus, Chinese Tulip tree

Siberian cow parsnip is another of my garden's immense and dangerous plants, and shares with hardy orange the ability to send careless humans to the emergency room.

 

The danger with hardy orange is its thorns, which are long enough and sharp enough to stigmata a hand or puncture an eye. Siberian cow parsnip causes injury when chemicals that infuse all of its parts come into contact with skin. They bring on a dermatitis so severe—blisters! scars!—you'd wish it were just poison ivy. 

Osmanthus heterophyllus Purpureus Heracleum sosnowskyi Liriodendron chinense 060617 overall 320

Both plants have ornamental potential that's unique as well as substantial, so I grow them respectfully. I allow the cow parsnip to self-seed under careful supervision, so it can pop up with strategic spareness. This one volunteered in just the right place to partner with both purple osmanthus (front) and Chinese tulip tree (back).

 

The parnip's coolest connection to the two isn't the contrast with its immense jagged foliage. Nor with its satellite-sized umbels of white flowers held high out of frame. Rather, it's the purple speckles on its stem.

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