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

Today in the Garden of a Lifetime: Big-Root Geranium

No temperate garden should be without big-root geraniums. Of all the hardy geraniums with reputed groundcovering prowess, big-root is the most successful where summers can get into the nineties. No wonder: It's deer-proof, fairly shade-tolerant, weed-smothering, shrub-nuzzling, outward-flowing, immortal when happy, and madly floriferous as spring ripens into summer.

Geranium macrorrhizum Album 060617 overall 320

This is the white-flowered variety of my modest collection.The clump is four feet across and nearly ten years old. It receives no care at all. Geranium macrorrhizum is a snap to divide, so why haven't I spread this workhorse garden-wide? Time for a closer look.

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Camperdown Elm in Full Foliage

Three weeks ago, this enormous weeping elm was in "full samara," meaning that its spring display of countless pale-green winged seeds—known as samaras—was at its height. Their countless fluffy clusters gave the whole tree the look of a giant ruffly hoop skirt. And I mean giant: I parked my boxy brown Jeep nearby for scale.

Ulmus glabra Camperdownii with my car 052917 320

Now that the foliage has emerged, the tree looks like a huge haystack or some sort of unstoppable green monster that will sneak up on my car and demolish it. Monstrous or ruffly, old Camperdown elms are never less than impressive. They are automatically the hulking star of all the landscape within view. Here, even the purple beech across the street—normally a garden's pride and joy—is mere background.

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Today in the Garden of a Lifetime: Florida Flame Azalea in Bloom

This spring brings the first flowering of my young Florida flame azalea. As the common name suggests, the coloring of the yellow-to-orange flowers is fiery.

Rhododendron austrinum 052117 another 320

The scientific name—Rhododendron austrinum—seems to suggest that Australia is this species' home turf, but the meaning of austrinum is more general: of southern regions. The horticulture of eastern North America has so often been named by botanists home-based from Washington, DC, to Boston that, for them, even this species' native Georgia and Florida were plenty "austral." Regardless, this shrub is hardy to coastal Massachusetts. No wonder it's thriving in more-mild Rhode Island.

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Flowering of Free-Range Scots Elms

Since my post on my own glorious but oh-so-sparsely-flowering pollard of Scots elm, I chanced upon two other Scots elms. Both are growing free-range, and both were at heights of floral display so high and so heavy that to call them voluptuous was understatement: These trees' shows were rampant. Take this magnificent specimen of the weeping cultivar Ulmus glabra 'Camperdownii'.

Ulmus glabra Camperdownii overall 050917 320

The other was of the same cultivar as my pollard, Ulmus glabra 'Aurea'. Both of these trees provided tsunamis of flowers and follow-on seeds; by comparison, my tree's floral display—a twig or two out of hundreds—was barely a splatter. Next year, will mine come into its own? Meanwhile, it's time to celebrate two trees that are already at their peaks.

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Flowering of the Scots Elm

Hooray: The pollard of gold-leaved Scots elm has begun flowering! The show is of a delicate yellow scattered over bare branches with the grace of the flowers of cherries. Their branches are iconic for early spring bouquets that are spare but voluptuous—and often ceiling high. No surprise, then, that cut branches of elm in flower make as easy and elegant a bouquet.

 Ulmus glabra Aurea fingers 042817 320

But so few of this tree's many branches were bearing flowers this spring that this lone branch is the entire "bouquet." How and when will the pollard ever become covered in bloom? Could the flowering be so profuse that, whether or not I harvested dozens of stems for a bouquet worthy of any hotel lobby, the show that remained on the tree would still be, well, showy from clear across the garden?

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The Best Season Ever: Early-flowering Borage in Bloom

No garden can ever have enough blue flowers: there just aren't that many of them. And though spring is the peak season for blues in the garden, there's always room for more, even then. Especially when the plant in question is also a fearless groundcover, a "Wow, what is that?" rarity in North America, and an early-season salad green.


Trachystemon orientalis fingers 041817 B 320


These are the sky-blue flowers of early-flowering borage, a woodland groundcover native from the Balkans to the Caucasus. It deserves a place in every garden—and on the table for an Easter feast.

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