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: Spring Sprouts of False Nettle

After you've paid a respectful early-Spring visit to your clump of false nettle to confirm that, yup, its leafless stems really do look great, and continued to do so regardless of how nasty Winter was—it's high time to cut them off right at ground level: This year's crop of new stems is emerging, and if you don't clip the old ones off soon, handful by handful, you'll need to clip them one by one, so as not to damage the new tips.

 

Boehmeria platanifolia emerging stems 042515 640

 

And what cool tips they are: Eager and pink and ready for action. The just-emerging growth of many plants is surprisingly colorful in earliest Spring: See my posts on peony, euphorbia, hostarodgersia, catalpa, and horse chestnut. Often as not, this color is unrelated to that of the mature growth. The leaves of 'Patriot' hosta are riotously variegated in white and green, but its emerging tips are blue-purple. The mature leaves of feather-leaf rodgersia are just green, but its sprouts are chocolate. These colorful displays in April and early May are a show in themselves, not just the prelude, simply, to more of the same June through September. 

 

Hooray for any plant's ability to be colorful when the weather is still cool! When the color is darker than that of mature foliage, this helps new growth absorb more of the sun's warming radiation. Then again, other Spring foliage (like that of the pink-leaved horse chestnut) isn't dark at all. Still other plants, such as 'Grey Ghost' hosta, have young foliage that is creamy white; their new growth is able to burgeon without such added warmth.

 

Either way, colorful Spring foliage is just a happy quirk of fate; while any increased warmth that darker pigmention might absorb is a help, it's not a critical one towards a plant's Spring revival. Yes, the added heat could create a warmer welcome to pollinating insects that have ventured out in the cold—but many early-season flowers are a chilly white (such as those of snowdrops, white forsythia, and winter honeysuckle) and those plants thrive nonetheless. Dark pigmentation probably provides only a modest a leg up in terms of the still-cool temperatures, but it does make the plant a lot more desirable in a garden: If it's cool to be colorful when it's cool, the "color cogniscenti" will take note, and the colorful plant will be chosen more often than its less colorful cousins.

 

Here's how to grow Boehmeria platanifolia. 

Here's how handsome its leafless stems look all Winter.

Here's a look at its intriguing tassel-like flower spikes of late Summer.

 
 
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