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

Good Together: 'Sparkling Burgundy' Eucomis amid Gold-leaved Ghost Bramble and Gold-leaved Paper Mulberry

August begins the flowering season of pineapple lilies. Eucomis comosa 'Sparkling Burgundy' is probably the oldest of the dark-leaved forms, and is hard to beat. From May into July, its clumps of deepest-burgundy foliage enlarge steadily. To create a vibrating juxtaposition of light and dark is almost too easy: Next to 'Sparkling Burgundy', everything else looks bright.


Each Spring, I set a huge tub of 'Sparkling Burgundy' to the side of my one of my colonies of gold-leaved raspberry, and in front of the gold-leaved paper mulberry that I prune back each Spring so it remains a shrub. In the picture below, one of the new canes of the Rubus cockburnianus 'Aureus' has crossed in front of the 'Sparkling Burgundy'. Its chrome-yellow leaves are so bright they nod to creamy white. 




Behind, the gold leaves of Broussonetia papyrifera 'Golden Shadow' are nearly as bright. May through July, the sandwich of purple-black strappy 'Sparkling Burgundy' foliage fronted by crinkly pinnate raspberry foliage and backed by the smooth-edged mitten-shaped leaves of the mulberry seems definitive: "This," it declares, "is as good as can be: Burgundy with gold, crinkly with strappy with mitten-shaped. Eat your heart out, hostas and Japanese maples and copper beeches."




But then, those spikes of Eucomis flowers show what was missing: First, a contrast in scale. The innumerable buds on the spike open into small, starry, "busy" flowers. The full message of the foliage alone is discernible at ten or twenty feet, but the flowers are a different color every eighth of an inch. Closer viewing is essential as well as irresistible. 



The petals are pink aswirl with creamy white, with the darker outer layer of the petals faintly showing through. The raspberry-pink pistil projects upward from an ovary sectioned in raspberry and white. Surrounding the ovary is the ring of apple-green stamens that are tipped with lemon-yellow anthers. And it is these, the smallest details of the flowers, that show what else had been missing. Before, there were only contrasts, via the strongly-displayed differences in color and form: burgundy with yellow, crinkly with strappy with mitten-shaped. Now that the flowers are out, a link of color has been layered atop those contrasts: yellow to yellow to yellow, Eucomis to Rubus, Eucomis to Broussonetia. 




The contrasts remain, but are even more evident because of this new smallest-to-largest bond in color. The entire grouping hasn't just become more complex and detailed; it has become more resonant and, even, meaningful. All Summer long, the show was like three marching bands blaring happily at one another: The Purples, the Chromes, and the Mittens, each cheerfully cheering at full volume.


And then, a "Horton Hears a Who" game-changer: The tiniest detail of the flowers—those yellow anthers—adds harmony that unites everything. When the flowers mature to small fruits, that harmony is recast: The fruits are as dark burgundy as the Eucomis leaves once were, whereas the petals, which persist behind the fruits, change from pink to a yellow-green that sings alongside the still-yellow of the Rubus and Broussonetia leaves.

Here's how to grow Eucomis 'Rhode Island Red', whose handling and hardiness are similar to those of 'Sparkling Burgundy'. Here's how to grow Rubus cockburnianus 'Aureus'—and a look at how chilly and milky-white its canes are in Winter. Here's a look at Broussonetia papyrifera 'Golden Shadow' in full flower—plus links to more on its shape-shifting foliage, and how to grow it. And here's a look at those showy dark-purple fruits of 'Sparkling Burgundy'.

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