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: Variegated Spanish Dagger



Spring into Fall, a quartet of potted yuccas known as Spanish daggers punctuates the corners of the reflecting pool.  In late Summer, their tall spikes of white flowers are showstopping. 


By the first frosts, the flowers are gone, and most of the pool's horticulture has shed its leaves or, in the case of the tropicals, been whisked into shelter.  The yuccas' evergreen foliage, and their pots' color and scale, show up all the more—especially because each pot is placed in front of happy old bushes of dwarf arctic willow, Salix purpurea 'Nana'.  The willows' natural shape is rounded and densely twiggy, creating uniform growth that could easily form a graceful medium-height hedge.




How's this for twiggy?  The willow's thin gray leaves (mostly shed by now) are reminiscent of those of rosemary, which isn't hardy colder than Zone 7.  The willow's common name, "Arctic," is only a modest exaggeration.  Salix purpurea is hardy well in southern and central Quebec, which includes Zone 3.  The Arctic Circle itself—Zone 1 and Zone 0—is hundreds of miles farther north, but even in Zone 3, temperatures can drop to -30 Fahrenheit.  When it's that cold, it feels plenty arctic enough.




Yucca gloriosa 'Variegata' isn't hardy colder than Zone 7—and that's if it's growing in the ground.  In a container, it's more tender still.  The terra cotta bell pots are even more "tender" than the yucca.  Terra cotta absorbs water readily, and if that water freezes it will expand and shatter the pot.  I'd rate terra cotta as "hardy" only into the warm end of Zone 8, and even then, only if the pots are sitting on feet so that their bottoms never touch standing water.



This garden is at the cold end of Zone 7, so both the daggers and the bell pots will come into shelter.  The yuccas are growing in black nursery pots, and it's easy to move them into the sunny shelter of an unheated greenhouse.  No heat, yes, but also no wind, either.  It's the warm Zone 7 the yuccas appreciate.


If the bell pots are protected from moisture, they can tolerate almost any amount of cold.  The challenge is that Winter is a wet season, not just a cold one, so while the pots need to be brought into dry shelter, it doesn't have to be heated.  Mine  are stacked in the unheated carriage house, where they dry out quickly.


Here's how to grow variegated Spanish dagger.


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