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 Higher-than-Ever Hedge of American Holly

All forms of holly rebound eagerly when pruned, which is one reason they can form such effective, attractive, durable hedges: They can be pruned a little or a lot, and respond by forming vigorous bushy new growth. My high, long, old hedge of American holly is the poster child for long-term healthy care. In less than two years after its last ruthless prune, the top bristles with new shoots three feet tall and taller. 


Ilex opaca 495 top to prune 122218 915


As it turns out, cutting them off is just the beginning of the pruning needed to bring the hedge back down to its normal ten-foot height. They are literally just the tips of the radical cut-back that's needed.


In the picture below, you can see how high the hedge should be—and will be when I'm done: I've pruned well below where those shoots seem to begin, to reveal (just barely) the view of a galvanized horizontal pipe beyond.


Ilex opaca to prune toward house 122218 915


Looking closer, that pipe is amidst the bright red-orange twigs of the top of the nearby espalier of Winter Orange linden


Ilex opaca pruning guide to house 122218 915


When the entire top of holly hedge is just below that pipe in height, then the top of the Winter Orange espalier is visible all along it, like an orange mohawk. Looking the other direction, you can see that, not only do all the three- and four-foot top shoots of the holly hedge need to be pruned away, so does the entire six to eight inches of what would seem to be the hedge's normal bushy and dense upper portion. 


Ilex opaca pruning corridor to 1CFR 122818 915


The handy level of the Winter Orange espalier pipe shows dramatically how lustily the holly hedge has grown. Below is another indicator of how much I need to prune. Look at the base of the thickest of the vertical shoots, and you can see the dark-tipped stubs where I last pruned. 


Ilex opaca detail showing the pruning marks of older growth 122818 915


These interior details help guide me as much as the exterior Winter Orange pipe as I begin this season's trim. I'll post the progress as part of the LouisRaymondDesign instagram. Work begins between Christmas and New Year's Day, and will continue episodically through much of January. 




Here's a look at the holly hedge several cuts ago, when it was freshly-trimmed to be the height of the top rail of the espalier of Winter Orange lindens.


Here's a look down the length of the hallway between my hedge of American holly and the espalier of Winter Orange lindens as the hedge was coat-racked.


Here's how to grow a yellow-berried form of American holly. Its hardiness and handling are the same as those of the straight species.


Here's a look at an American holly that has been growing free-range for many decades.


Here's another look at Winter Orange lindens, as well as how to grow them.


FacebookTwitterRSS Feed

Stay in touch!


Sign up for twice-monthly eNews, plus notification of new posts:


* indicates required