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: The tall and the short of it: 'Summer Wine' ninebark

physocarpus-opulifolius-seward-pruned-after-flowering-090112-640

 

 

Ninebark shrubs love to be pruned right to the ground.  I grow a pair of the purple-leaved cultivar 'Summer Wine', and I wasn't certain whether pruning it in the Winter (convenient—do it anytime; although, yes, it cuts off the buds for next Spring's flowers) was better than pruning right after flowering (then you get to enjoy the flowers, and the new growth doesn't get started until a month later in the growing season).

 

Well, the jury's in, and the verdict is unanimous.  The shrub in the picture above is perfect: casual but full, dense but not rigid—and gracefully upright even after growing for three months.

 

Below is the other shrub, the one I had pruned to the ground in the middle of the Winter, when I had the time and the weather was mild.  Yes, I knew I was cutting off the flower buds for the late-Spring flowering:  As is typical for Spring-blooming shrubs, the buds form the preceding Fall.  But I had the itch to prune, and this poor shrub was my victim. 

 

My Winter pruning had a second, and even worse, consequence than precluding flowers the following Spring:  The shoots that formed in response to the pruning were able to start into growth a good six weeks before the branches of the first clump, which I delayed pruning until after the flowers were done in June. 

 

By September, that additional six weeks had enabled the new growth to become so long it was getting floppy.  In the picture below, a few twigs have arched far outward to the left, and a few others far outward to the right.  None have remained short enough to hold the center.

 

physocarpus-opulifolius-seward-pruned-previous-fall-090112-640

 

What a pleasure to have such clear guidance for pruning Physocarpus opulifolius 'Summer Wine'.  Do it unmercifully, yes:  Right to the ground, as low as you can possibly go.  And yes, do it just once a year: Right after the shrub's flowers have faded.  The shrub will resprout quickly, looking tidy and relaxed the rest of the Summer—and right through Fall and Winter to next Spring.

 

 

Here's how to grow this bullet-proof shrub.

 
 
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