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

The Best Spring Ever: Gold-leaved Chinese Stachyurus, in Full Foliage

Gardening is all too much about failures: the plants that die, that disappoint, that invade, that flop—or, in a damningly existential tragedy, even at their best prove not to be worth the space, time, and effort. 


What saves this gardener's soul is the plants that surprise, that persist, that obey, that behave—or, in a thrillingly existential triumph, prove to be worth all possible space, time, and effort even when success is only partial.


The former are—or should be—unavoidable. If you're not killing at least some of your plants regularly, you're experiments aren't big enough. Ouch. I keep sane by maximizing the latter: In the face of all the failures, I seek out victories of any size or degree.


Here's my victory with Chinese stachyurus. Did this gold-leaved form (as yet unnamed) of the variegated Stachyurus chinensis 'Joy Forever' merely survive this past hateful winter? No. It did not just limp over spring's warm-then-warmer finish line into the new season's supportive embrace. It burst into leaf to the tips of its stems.


Stachyurus chinensis all gold sport of Joy Forever 050918 overall with more Osmanthus heterophyllus Nana foreground 915


The leaves of Joy Forever are green with a white edge—and there's nothing wrong with that. But the leaves of this gold-leaved form are pure in hue and, I think, an even better partner to the shrub's eyecatching mahogany-barked stems.


Stachyurus chinensis all gold sport of Joy Forever 050918 young young adult stems 915


Note, below, the extra interest of the youngest stems, the ones producing the marvelous new leaves: they are gold and pink. This combination is unusual in itself, and makes a "full meal" when seen in combination with the gold foliage and dark mature stems. 


Stachyurus chinensis all gold sport of Joy Forever 050918 copper burgundy young adult stems 915


It's dumb luck that the stems' dark coloring finds its perfect match in the mahogany sheaths at the bases of the clumps of papyrus, which were only recently plunged back into the galvanized horse trough for the warm weather growing season to come. With so much going on, would the dramatic variegation of the leaves of Joy Forever have been a step to far?


True, this gold-leaved form of Stachyurus chinensis didn't flower. For the all-green species (as well as its earlier-flowering cousin, Stachyurus praecox), the flowers are the whole reason for planting. No wonder: They are staggeringly good. See this shot of a voluptuously mature variegate, likely Joy Forever itself. Even the stems of the flower racemes are mahogany—yet another cool detail that could make foliar variegation too much icing on the cake.


Did my stachyurus not flower this spring because it's still too young? Alas, no: It had flowered when a year younger, when I overwintered the shrub in the greenhouse. More likely, the lack of flowers this spring is because of historically low winter temperatures. As is typical for shrubs and trees that bloom  in winter or spring, the buds themselves were formed the fall before. And, while the shrub itself can survive the winter unscathed—as mine certainly did—this time, the buds did not.


Perhaps there will be flowering next spring. By then, the shrub will be a year older and, so, will have have acquired that much more of its ultimate hardiness. And perhaps the coming winter will be more forgiving, allowing the buds to survive.


Meanwhile, this rare gold-leaved cultivar is so engaging in leaf, stem, and bark, that merely being alive is joy enough.



I'll profile this gold-leaved sport of Stachyurus chinensis 'Joy Forever' when I can treat us all to pictures of the shrub in bloom.


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