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: Pruning the hedge of 'Densiformis' yew



The cold months are the season for hedge pruning.  Without perennials and more general leafiness to get in the way, the quarry is brought clearly into focus.  This low yew hedge contains three sides of a small garden around the hardy orange.  Pruned just once a year, it grows a foot and more between cuts.


The first step is to lay a line of twine at the top of where the cut hedge will be.




Permanent rebar stakes are hidden within the hedge, so it's a matter of only a minute to loop the twine around each and then on to the next.  It's another minute—or three—to then scriggle the twine down between the growth that will soon be cut off, so it approaches a usable, if not exact, horizontal. 




After a first pass along the top, the twine can more easily be adjusted to a true level, enabling a next round of fine pruning, as well as pruning the sides. 


This hedge is planted with Taxus x media 'Densiformis', whose Zone 5 hardiness as well as low and naturally-branching habit makes it the yew of choice for hedges shorter than four feet.  The hedge is young as well as happy:  Notice the growth on the still-to-be-pruned side.  It's easily a foot taller.




Yew tolerates any amount of pruning, from the gentle happening here, via hand pruners that hardly remove more than the soft new growth of the previous season, to the radical, via loppers and even chain saws.


With the pruning largely completed, the top line of twine is, finally, truly atop the hedge, not buried in stems that are going to be cut.




The cleaner geometry of the hedge is an excellent foil for the semi-evergreen medusa of kniphofia foliage. 




Should (or rather when) the Winter signals that it will get ugly, the kniphofia foliage will be tied into a topknot and buried under mulch, to protect the perennial from cold as well as penetration from icy water.  For the rest of the Winter, the geometry of the hedge will predominate.


Here's how to grow another Taxus x media cultivar, 'Flushing'.  'Densiformis' needs the same culture and habitat and, if you can manage it, can be planted just as close together to form a hedge.


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