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: 'Unique' tree hydrangeas



The 'Unique' tree hydrangeas are at their literal height of beauty in August and September.  I have a quartet of them, each anchoring an "outrigger" bed at the four corners of the long reflecting pool.  What a change in appearance from that created by the radical pruning they receive each Winter.


I'm training these to have unusually tall trunks, and the Winter pruning that's needed could scarcely produce a sapling that's less promising:  With only the stubs of the previous year's branches remaining, the off-season look of a well-trained tree hydrangea is startling, indeed.


Because all cultivars of Hydrangea paniculata, including 'Unique', bloom only at the tips of new growth, last year's branches aren't needed. 


The southeast member of the tree-hydrangea quartet is heavy with bloom—and with particularly large heads of bloom at that.  Their unusual size is why this cultivar was named ''Unique'.  As the tree matures, it will produce more and more young stems, each with its own head of flowers.  To help the overall fullness, next Summer I'll pinch the tips of the new stems.  Each will grow at least two new "daughter" stems, so there will be twice as many flowerheads.




Here's the southwest member of the quartet, photographed in brighter light on the very same day.  Its heads are still bright white—hydrangea flowers typically age to pink—and they are much more upright.  How could this individual also be the same cultivar as the other three?  Instead of being 'Unique', it's either another cultivar that was shipped to me by mistake, or it's truly something new and exciting:  Instead of being 'Unique', it might truly be unique.




It certainly is unique among this quartet of tree hydrangeas.  I'll update on this puzzle next year.  It might be some quirk of pruning or maturity of this particular bush that its flowers, this season, were so noticeably later than those of the other three trees.  And so much more upright.  And—argh—making such a better display!


Regardless, I'm unlikely to make a change, either to replace this hydrangea or replace the others:  It takes several years to grow a "tree" hydrangea to this height.  One way or another, my quartet of 'Unique' tree hydrangeas seems destined to be unique, indeed.



Here's how to grow this easy flowering shrub.

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