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

Pollarding the Golden Scots Elm

As usual, the foliar display of the golden Scots elm is so vigorous, so bright, that to call it exuberant or, even, eyepopping seems like understatement. This tree provides the most reliable season-long display of colorful foliage of any woody plant hardy colder than Zone 7.  

Ulmus glabra Aurea narrow 061818 320.jpg

But even after several years of growth since the last pollarding, the branches were still not mature enough to flower well. If I were to wait yet another year before pollarding again, the branches might be almost twenty feet long—and would then be dangerously uncontrollable as they fell to the ground during the pollarding. But without pollarding, this still-compact tree would transform into a free-range monster that would completely overwhelm its compact garden. Flowering or not, pollarding can't wait another season.  

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'Tokyo Tower' Fringetree

I had delayed welcoming fringetree to my garden because the straight species is often a wide ornamental tree, not a shrub. But this Tokyo Tower cultivar is a godsend for any garden already dense with beauties: It’s a slender column in adolescence, and may never grow wider than four to six feet.  


Chionanthus retusus Tokyo Tower fingers close up 052718. 2 320


Even I have room for a pair, flanking one of the garden’s crosswalks. Without concern over too-big maturity, I can concentrate on the tree's pristine, profuse spring flowers and, in time, striking upright habit. 


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The Best Season Ever: White-flowered Enkianthus in Bloom

Seven years ago, I introduced white-flowered enkianthus via this particular specimen—but in late October, when its burgundy fall foliage was the show. Spring is the time to celebrate this species' namesake thrill: white flowers. 

Enkianthus perulatus closer 050711 320 

Here in New England, they are one of early May's many elegant flourishes: showy but not shameless, and striking in their pale absence of color. None of the ruddy pink typical of the far-more-familiar "red"-veined enkianthus here.

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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 the shrub 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 320

True, it didn't flower—usually the whole reason for growing the shrub. Perhaps next year. Meanwhile, with this rare gold-leaved cultivar, merely being alive is joy enough, because it's evidenced by such leaves, such stems.   

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The Best Season Ever: Hardy Orange Topiary in Bloom

Here in New England, any citrus that is hardy decade by decade is a head-spinner, a miracle. Beyond the thrill of such ongoing vivacity, there are seasonal star turns such as fall foliage, orange fall fruits, and—if the tree is trained as topiary—shapely habit in winter and early spring. Plus the spring flowers: pure white sparkles, like a freak late snow.

Poncirus trifoliata 051018 overall 320

Topiary needs close pruning, which precludes most of the flowers. The highest ball is still so young and small, though, that I'm letting it grow free-range to bulk up more quickly. Free-range, it also flowers, well, freely—and in striking contrast to the balls below. Is this hybrid training strategy—free up top, pruned below—how this topiary of hardy orange can have its floral cake and eat it, too?

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