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

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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The Best Season Ever: Chestnut Rose in Bloom

Chestnut rose is unique: Out of all the roses hardier than Zone 7, it alone becomes so large and woody that any one of its stems could be trained as a trunk, and that stem's branches the trunk's canopy. In other words, this is a "tree" rose can become a true tree.

Rosa roxburghii 060817 overall misty 320

Mine has been in training since being planted in 2000, and is mature enough to be self-supporting even though its canopy is now eleven feet wide. And, hey: it's a rose. How 'bout those flowers?


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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.

Read more ...

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