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: China Fir Rededicated

For years, I had been treating my China fir as a low-lying second banana to an espaliered gold Deodar cedar. But last week, I encountered this China fir far north of my garden: in Providence, Rhode Isand. It is thriving so bodaciously it's blocking windows of a "painted lady" Victorian house.

 

Cunninghamia lanceolata Glauca 040718 overall 915

 

The long, narrow, pointed needles aren't actually as sharp as they look. See how they are oriented in two planes that intersect at an angle? 

 

Cunninghamia lanceolata Glauca 040718 fingers 915

 

The resultant rhythm along each side of a stem—upper needle, lower needle, upper, lower—is both lively and distinctive.

 

Cunninghamia lanceolata Glauca 495 040818 fingers close up 915

 

But the real giveaway that this conifer is in fact Cunninghamia lanceolata is the profusion of trunks. Along with yews—the Taxus genus—Cunninghamia shares the unique quality amoung conifers of being able to produce sprouts even from the base of very old growth. Cut either a yew or a China fir down with a chainsaw, and new shoots will emerge right from the trunk.

 

Cunninghamia lanceolata Glauca 040718 base 915

 

China fir's prowess at basal sprouting is even more extreme, in that the trunk can sucker, i.e., send up shoots not just from the base of the trunk, but from the roots. This specimen on the West Side of Providence seems to be doing just that. So on both counts—the needles and the suckering—it is, indeed, a China fir.  Note, also, how all the trunks are the same caliper: A gardener working in Providence has just been in touch via Instagram with the reason why: He himself had cut this tree down to the stump several years ago—so all of these resprouts are the same age and, hence, about the same size. 

 

This indomitable specimen surely seems to be throwing down a gauntlet labeled, "Louis, what the heck are you waiting for? Train your China fir high & wide, too! Help it make great friends with the espaliered Deodar cedar.”

 

 

Yes, indeedy!

 

 

 

Here's how to grow blue China fir—plus a look at the stunning color of first-year growth.

 

 
 
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