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 Beautiful Roots of Lotus Runners

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Lotuses are normally grown for their flowers: Enormous, fragrant, ephemeral, even spiritual.  I grow them for the flowers, too.  But ever since I repotted my lotuses, I've been growing them for their roots, too.

 

My other two lotuses grow in unusually confined circumstances:  Planted in round black washtub-like pots for aquatic plants, with almost no clearance when they sit submerged at the bottom of a thirty-gallon garbage can.  The roots coil round and round the tub; there's no room for another trajectory.

 

This Spring, I set out directly into my pond three regular nursery pots—those washtub-like aquatic pots are expensive—of my largest lotus, Nelumbo nucifera 'Perry's Giant Sunburst'.  Compared to the garbage can, the seventy-foot reflecting pond is an ocean.  New runners quickly leapt out from the top of the nursery pots, as well as directly through their drainage holes. 

 

Because the pond has a rubber liner, not an earthen bottom, the runners couldn't travel their usual way, buried in the mud at the bottom of the pond.  They had to journey through the water itself, putting the display of runner and roots not only in full sun, but in full view. 

 

It's merely cool that, after growing each additional foot or two, a young and creamy-white runner of 'Perry's Giant Sunburst' produces a sunburst of young and creamy-white roots, from which emerge new leaves as well as the continuation of the runner itself.  It's positively thrilling that the tips of those creamy-white roots—the portions of them that are growing the fastest, and would, normally, if the roots were underground, be muscling their way through the pond-bottom's mud—are pink.

 

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Pink!

 

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Are they pink because they are growing in the water itself, not through the mud, and would, therefore, be exposed to sunlight instead of the total darkness of growing underground?  Or are they pink when growing underground, too? 

 

More existentially: Why pink?  How is fast root growth in water (muddy or clear) faciliated by being pink?  Or is being pink just an accident, a colorful irrelevance?

 

I can't answer the whys or the hows, but if I could uproot a portion of lotus runner growing in an earth-bottom pond, I could answer the where's.  I could determine whether the tips of lotus roots are pink when they grow buried in mud, too, not just when they grow through open water.

 

The logistics are tricky, though.  How to locate a such a runner?  If the pond were shallow, I could try reaching into the mud to detect a buried runner while, at the same time, keeping my nose above water.  But if the pond were deeper, I'd have to be snorkling or scuba-ing to have enough time to, so to speak, root around for the runner at leisure.  And—whoops!—first I'd have needed to locate a genial owner of such a lotus-colonized earthen-bottom pond, who also wouldn't mind the visit of an eccentric gentleman who wanted to do a bit of diving.

 

Snorkeling or maybe scuba-ing, preceded by networking in the world of lotus-growers: Determining the color of the tips of mud-growing lotus roots will be a project.  I was certified for scuba diving thirty years ago, in preparation for the usual Caribbean trips to gawk at ocean fish and coral reefs.  Observing lotus roots in their native habitat sounds far more exotic.

 

Here's how to grow this astonishing aquatic perennial.

 

 
 
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