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: Giant Perennial Sunflower

Fall is peak season for viewing giant perennials. They've had the full season to grow, foot after foot after foot, and Fall's shorter days and cooler nights have finally convinced them to think less about height and more about flowers.

 

 Vernonia-altissima-Jonesboro-Giant-Helianthus-giganteus-100613-640

 

Three cases in point: The violet-flowered ironweed, the yellow daisy, and the white seedheads of pale Indian plantain. See those parallel galvanized pipes toward the bottom of the picture? They are part of the top of a pergola that's eight feet high. Although I'm 6'3", the only reason I'm looking head-on at any of these perennials is because I'm also up an eight-foot ladder. This is the season, then, for a specialty demographic of garden tourist: Stepladder voyeurs.

 

And what eccentric and high-flying delights await them. The stems of giant perennial sunflower are worth a look all season long. They are a deeper and more uniform ebony than any canes of so-called "black" bamboo and, at least this far north, are nearly as tall.

 

Vernonia-altissima-Jonesboro-Giant-Helianthus-giganteus-100613-stems-640.jpg

 

The flowers of Helianthus giganteus are besieged by bees. (Those of the Sheila's Sunshine cultivar are notably more pale; I'm looking forward to reintroducing it into my gardens.)

 

There are four bees visible in the photo below, and this is just one of the colony's many stems. Perennials that soar to this altitude—twelve feet and up—catch every breeze and, so, their flower clusters are often in jerky motion. When alighted, the bees keep a firm grip, working away on the chosen flower head regardless of what, to a human, would be sickening back-and-forth whip lash. 

 

Helianthus-giganteus-flowers-and-bees-100613-cropped-640

 

And when a bee releases from one flower in search of another, it's such an agile and persistent flier that it matches the swaying array of blooms zig for zag while selecting the next for a landing.

 

 

Here's how to grow another giant late-Summer daisy, Helianthus maximiliani, in its rare pale-flowered form, 'Lemon Yellow'. Its culture and handling are similar to those of H. giganteus.   

 

Here's how to grow the other sky-high perennial in these pictures, Vernonia altissima 'Jonesboro Giant'.

 
 
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