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: 'Ghost' Weigela & 'Gibralter' Bush Clover

Late-summer spectacle can be easy with annuals and tropicals, which can continue at full tilt as long as the warmth lasts. I'm thinking canna, dahlia, thryallis, and tulbaghia: always "on," always singing their high notes.


Late summer spectacle with hardy plants is the exception not the norm, especially if it doesn't even involve hydrangeas. And, so, is all the more exciting. Years ago, I planted a pair of the classic bush clover, Lespedeza thunbergii 'Gibralter', in my pair of flanking pink borders. These hardy shrubs perform best when cut to the ground in late winter; with Gibralter, new growth forms a fountain-like haystack that can be six feet high and ten across. Unless nearby plants are tall enough, they could be completely covered by the clovers' eager, arching stems.


By more luck than wisdom, I planted a Weigela florida 'Ghost' about eight feet away from each Gibralter. The May flowers of the Ghosts are cherry red but fleeting, holding center stage when the new stems of the lespedezas are just a foot or two out of the ground. By late August, the Gibralter stems are at their most expansive and territorial; fortunately, the Ghosts are just far enough away, and just high enough, that feathers of Gibralters can only tap the Ghosts on the shoulders, not roll right over them. 


Weigela florida Ghost Lespedeza thunbergii Gibralter 091018 915


In close-up, the details of this unusual pairing are revealed. Slowly over the summer, chlorophyl is lost in the centers of the Ghost leaves, leaving just a perimeter blush of green surrounding the near-white interiors. 


Weigela florida Ghost closer 091018 915


With so little green—or its transitional color to white, yellow—late-summer foliage of Ghost reads as white suffused with icy green. It's a startling color for foliage, and one that is quite comfortable being spangled with hundreds of pink Gibralter blossoms.


One reason is that the bush-clover flowers also have a near-white element: See the backs of the petals of the buds, below? They provide fade-to-white visuals that are similar to those of the weigela leaves.


Weigela florida Ghost Lespedeza thunbergii Gibralter highlighting the lespedeza 091018 915


Below, one of the Gibralters as seen from the front. Its Ghost partner is out of view at its back left.  


Lespedeza thunbergii Gibralter Ipomoea platensis 090518 915 


From this vantage, the setting is quite focused—limited, even—on a classic pink-centered palette that ventures only as far afield as gray-green, silver, white, and rose. When you venture six feet farther to the left, then look back into this deep border to see the weigela, the surprise is one of its collaborative icy-green hues, not the unfortunate clash had it read more as butter yellow.


Whew—and hooray! 




Here's how to grow a white-flowered & upright form of bush clover, Lespedeza japonica. It flowers somewhat later than Gibralter, but its hardiness, culture, & handling are similar.


 I'll profile Weigela florida 'Ghost' this coming spring, when it's in bloom.

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