Tropical garden design

Discussion in 'Outdoor Tropicals' started by palmera, Sep 26, 2006.

  1. palmera

    palmera Active Member

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    Location:
    Chemainus BC Canada
    I am slowly converting my mixed perennial garden into a dedicated tropical garden. I find it challenging to use only (or mostly) tropicalesk plants and still have a visually appealing design. Bananas make it easy as they are a nice (and fast) anchor, but I don't want a banana in every bed...I also have used eucalyptus for this purpose. Any suggestions of combination plantings for some of my other beds that won't look like a reproduction of this bed? I've used banana, eucyalyptus, miscanthus, alocasia, phormuium, bamboo, and cannas, with a palm in the foreground.
     

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  2. Carol Ja

    Carol Ja Active Member 10 Years

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    Salt Spring Island
    How about Tetrapanex p. ,Gunnera t., Brugmansia, cycads, tree ferns, Ensete, gingers, evergreen magnolia, Agave, yuccas, cordlines.... let me know if you want some more.

    A good place to look online that might give you some plants, www.tropic.ca or fraser thimble farm here on Salt Spring(can't remmember the address of hand, you'll have to google them) or e-mail LPN, he used to or still does sell plants that are exotic.
     
  3. koipondgardener

    koipondgardener Active Member

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    When most people think of tropical design the first word that comes to mind is 'lush.' Vines lend themselves perfectly when striving for a lush feel. Try clematis, wisteria (if space permits), or there are a number of fabulous annual vines to provide instant green.

    Onto the other plantings now. Ground covers really make the space come alive. Some definite winners, in my opinion, are the Lotus vine(annual or tender perrenial) and my personal favorite, the Purple heart (annual to zone 8).

    The Lotus Vine has a green-grey ferny texture with bright red to yellow blooms shaped like a parrot's beak. The plant is not as the name implies, it isn't a vine at all. It trails instead of climbs.

    The Purple Heart plant is a trailing plant with stunning purple leaves and flowers. It compliments many other plants in the garden too.

    Try a google search for pictures of them.
     
  4. JCardina

    JCardina Active Member

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    Comox, Vancouver Island, British Columbia Canada
    Pineapple Guava, Mulberry, Ligularis, Rodgersia, Fastisa Japonica, Mahonia X Media "charity", Passiflora (passionflower vines), Moon flowers, Cardiocrinum Giganteus, Rhodocoma Gigantea.
     
  5. DGuertin

    DGuertin Active Member 10 Years

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    I don't know what zone you're in, but Castor Bean or Rice paper would bring about the 'lush, tropical, exotic' look quite quickly...
     
  6. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    Here are some ideas from the tropics....

    You can also look at any of the other aroids, like Alocasia, Anthurium, and Monstera (to name but a few) for their giant, showy foliage. If you want something in the "showy tropical vine" category, check out Pothos (although this might not work in your zone.)

    A big hearty second to the tree ferns; the New Zealand varieties should do well for you. Ferns in general are a good idea.... And don't forget Hibiscus! If H. rosa-sinensis doesn't like being outdoors where you are, try H. syriacus. Gingers are a great idea; I really like Globe Gingers and they can form a focal point for the bed as they get quite tall. If you decide to do that, you should contain them or they'll run.

    You can also probably get away with some of the Passiflora - I think P. incarnata is hardy in your area, and if you have a fairly sunny sheltered area you can try P. ligularis which is tasty as well as very tropicalesque.

    If you have the funds, the space for it, the will to completely redesign the space, and you really want to mess with people's minds, try doing a Classical or Baroque garden design using the plants mentioned above in the thread. Anchor it with something really big (depending on the size of your garden, I'd say you can go with Eucalypts or something as big as a Canary Island Date Palm, which are huge, and hardy if you mulch them.) and then do things like maze-style trellissed hedges of the tropical vines with the big aroids planted as accents. If you want a slightly more rambling look, you can train vines to climb and cover statuary..... Just a bug in your ear; I've designed this style of garden and it comes out looking quite unique.

    It seems to me that the key to a really tropical look is to let your plants ramble and climb on one another, rather than keeping them strictly separate. Once your palms get taller, try training ferns or vines to grow in the trunk niches, and let any climbing aroids ramble up your trees.
     

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