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 Key West: Yellow-Flowered Pride of Barbados

The flowers of this shrub of the yellow-flowered form of Pride of Barbados are so high overhead that I walked right by—I mean, right under—without noticing. All forms of Caesalpinia pulcherrima are at their best when pruned back without hesitation, just like you would handle a butterfly bush, Buddleja davidii. The glorious flowers are produced at the tips of the new growth, which, thanks to that pruning, will be conveniently in reach and in view.

 

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The pruning also has a second, and much quirkier, benefit. Unlike those of Buddleja, flowers of species in the pea family, such as the yellow-flowered Caesalpinia pulcherrima 'Aurea' here, mature to prominent seed pods. They may or may not be a visual asset. Pods of Pride of Barbados are brown, and their coloring is as unrelated to the pure-butter color of the yellow flowers here as it is to the fiery orange and red of the flowers of the straight species.

 

Worse, the pods are the same size as who-knows-what species of furry little animals, making the shrub look like a horrible monument to rodent lynching.

 

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When Caesalpinia pulcherrima has been allowed to grow this large—twelve feet and higher—it's difficult to clip off the little brown corpses, I mean pods. How much better to prune the shrub way back at the beginning of the growing season, and then give it a second going-over to remove the pods.

 

Here's a look at the unstintingly-colorful flowers of the straight species of Pride of Barbados, Caesalpinia pulcherrima. Like this yellow-flowered form, it is best grown when pruned severely at the beginning of the growing season, to keep the overall height of the shrub within range of easy and up-close viewing of the flowers.  And then groomed a second time, after the main crop of flowering is completed, to remove the distracting seed pods.

 

Here's how to grow a cousin of Pride of Barbados, Yellow Bird-of-Paradise shrub, Caesalpinia gilliesii. It is hardier, to Zone 7, whereas C. pulcherrima is hardy only to Zone 8b, but the two shrubs enjoy the same soil, sun, moisture, and handling. Both can be grown in containers or, where hardy, in-ground. Both succeed as woody shrubs or, towards the cold end of their hardiness ranges, as die-back shrubs that resprout from the roots. Both are so eager to flower that they can be cut back to the ground in Spring, like you would the butterfly bush, Buddleja davidii, of temperate-climate gardens, to flower profusely in Summer. In climates with long growing seasons, both can be grown, from seed, as annuals that will flower their first year.

 

Here's how to grow another cousin of Pride of Barbados, Caesalpinia decapetala, known as Mysore Thorn. It should only be grown in climates that are too cold for its seeds to be viable.

 
 
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