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

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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Good Together: Mandarin Honeysuckle & Romantika Clematis

Spring into early summer is the year's first season of unstoppable garden color; fall foliage is the second. In between are the months of the year's hottest and driest weather, which make exuberant garden displays possible only by dint of creativity, wisdom, and industry.


But from now through early July, the living is still easy. Even extravagant moments, such as this tapestry of Mandarin honeysuckle and Romantika clematis, are a snap.

Clematis Romanika Lonicera x Mandarin equal overall 061417 320 

I planted both vines years ago and, so far this entire year, have done nothing to encourage let alone stage-manage their performance. Bountiful though they surely are, could the show possibly be better? Perhaps. Time for a closer look at what makes combinations of colorful plants exciting, both at first glance and upon sustained reflection.

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