Putting some manners on the Tropical Garden

I love the exotic-looking plants in this area of the garden. It was a real no-mans-land for a long time but as I acquired some plants with exotic leaves the idea of a specific Tropical Garden was born. Of course, as usual I took no account of how large these plants would grow, and on top of that, I didn’t get to it for the past year so it had really got a bit out of hand! It was more jungle than tropical so some changes had to be made!

Here is the list of plants as of this summer but I decided that some remedial action was needed to show off the more unusual plants!

  • Acorus
  • Acanthus Mollis  
  • Cordaline
  • Cortaderia ToeToe
  • Darmera Plelata
  • Eryngium
  • Ficus ‘Ice Crystal’
  • Hedera helix ‘English Ivy’
  • Hedychium gardnerianum(Ginger)
  • Lysimachia nummularia
  • Melianthus Major
  • Phlomis
  • Rodgersia aesculifolia
  • Rodgersia Cally Salmon
  • Rodgersia Podophylla
  • Tetrapanax Rex
  • Trachycarpus Fortuneii
  • Veratrum Nigrum
  • Yucca filamentosa

The stars of the Tropical Garden this summer were the Eryngium. The original seedling has increased and multiplied each year and this year in particular the extraordinary blue flowers and stems were a sight to behold! It can happily self-seed away here, just being removed if it comes up in the middle of other plants!

The Acorus is slowly taking hold round the edges but it has lots of competion from self-seeders. I have high hopes that my current modifications will allow it to thrive. The Cordaline was too close to the path and was a danger to anyone passing by so it had to go. This created a space where I was able to relocate Veratrum Nigrum that I had put too close to the Rodgersias, The Darmera is struggling a bit but it will also benefit from the removal of the Cordaline and some Lysimachia Firecracker that had invaded the space! The Acanthus Mollis also known as Bear’s Breeches managed to flower for the first time this year too.

The Hedera is an unusual one and I manage to keep it under control by ruthless cutting back each year. I can allow it to become good ground cover up to a point! The Gingers are so exotic but Their beautiful flowers were lost among the Tetrapanax leaves this year so they need a better location – and this will be available when the ToeToe is fully removed. The Lysimachia nummularia is another great gound-cover plant and gives colour all year. Every Spring I wait anxiously for the Melianthus to appear and so far I have not been disappointed. The pale green foliage is a real contrast in this garden. I love the strange flowers on the phlomis but it is one that needs to be cut back hard to stop it taking over the universe! The Rodgersias are thriving and the Tetrapanax and Trachycarpus are both now sizeable plants but the Yucca is a big disappointment. I placed it at the centre of this garden to prevent it stabbing passersby but after over ten years it has failed to provide me with a single open flower. They always got hit by frost before they could open but the last couple of years it didn’t produce any flowers. I may have to leave is as the thought of trying to remove such a potentially lethal plant fills me with trepidation!

I realised the other day that the Toe Toe was really swamping everything else in the whole garden so I have started the process of getting rid of it. I am totally amazed at how even cutting it back has opened up the whole garden and allowed better views of the plants. Some plants like the Gingers will need to be moved, but the new aspect will no doubt be a big improvement.

I hope the slideshow below gives an idea of that this area looks like – and maybe next year it will be possible to see the individual plants a bit better!

My determination to reduce the maintenance of the garden is making me take a fresh look at each area as I progress through the tidy-up going into Winter. Each plant, each area is being assessed for the amount of effort involved in its maintenance and the pleasure I get from it. I find myself being more tolerant of large clumps of geraniums that have spread beyond their allotted space, and I am slower to remove the stems of plants that have gone over – bare soil is an invitation to weeds to get established before Spring growth covers the ground! I don’t think it will ever be a ‘Low Maintenance’ garden but it can certainly be a more easily managed space!

2 thoughts on “Putting some manners on the Tropical Garden

  1. Joan Gallagher

    Hazel, the border looks great even as it is now but I can see what you mean about certain plants taking over. Good luck with getting the Cortaderia out – no small task! All the plants look healthy so you’re certainly doing something right. If your Lysamachia nummularia is the green one, could I please beg a little piece, if you can spare it, when we next get chance to meet up? I’ve only seen the golden one for sale in recent times.


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