Guest Author - Sheri Ann Richerson
A private place to relax with a tropical look is something many people strive for in their gardens. A place set apart from the rest of the world and possibly even set apart from the rest of the garden. In today’s hectic world the garden, especially water gardens, are seen as private retreats where one can easily relax after a hard day’s work. This is an aspect that many professional pond designers have been aware of for some time now and is one reason why many professional designers incorporate tropical plants into both pond and landscape design. According to Charles Thomas of Lilypons Gardens “Once your pond is installed, the less you do, the better.”
Water Gardens Are Low Maintenance Solutions
“After the initial investment and effort, water gardens are low care. You don’t have to water the plants. They bloom readily and almost continually all summer,” according to Teri Dunn, author of the book Water Gardens. “A pond is said to use less water than the same area covered by a traditional lawn, so water gardening can be said to be environmentally friendly and responsible.”
“Water is the separator of good gardens and great gardens. It has movement, motion, observation, energy both static and dynamic, life, sound, sight,” Rick Anderson, professional pond builder states. “How could you not want water in your garden?”
Tropical Plants Provide Privacy And A Sense Of Establishment
However the tropical look movement certainly includes more than just water. The plants are the most important part of the landscaping. Choose the plants you want to grow carefully. Be sure to keep in mind the look of the tropics, large leaves, colorful flowers and foliage as well as a wide variety of leaf textures.
Tropical plants, known for their exotic and jungle-like appearance make perfect specimens to grow for a quick privacy fence without the expense, work or unnatural appearance that a true fence would have. They are also excellent choices for a quick cover up to make a garden look established.
“Tropical looking plants opens up the field,” according to pond enthusiast and garden writer Duane Campbell from Pennsylvania. “Most people equate tropical with large leaves, particularly large colorful leaves. I grow a red leafed castor bean which always draws interest; it looks exotic but is really as easy to grow as marigolds. My particular favorite though is brugmansia. It’s got everything, interesting leaves, stunning large flowers and a scent that will perfume the neighborhood. Many people buy them in gallon pots in the spring and throw them out in the fall, so they never see the full effect. I grow mine in tubs although they could be planted in the ground. In fall you would dig them up, cut them way back, stuff the root ball in a garbage bag and put them in a cool basement.”
Crambe is one plant Campbell suggests for gardeners in cooler zones. “It does a great job of faking the tropical look but is hardy to zone 5. The leaves are six foot long. In June they are topped by a large flower head.” According to Campbell the flower head is the size of a Volkswagon.
Plants Just For Night Owls
For gardens that get the most use during the evening hours or at night, try growing Brugmansia, night blooming Jasmine or nocturnal Daylilies. There are a variety of other night blooming plants available including tropical night blooming Water Lilies. These night blooming beauties will give off a heady, exotic scent. White flowers or silver foliage will also ‘glow’ in the moonlight.
The addition of tropical plants to your landscape and water features can make your home feel like a vacation paradise. It can provide a much needed break from the hustle and bustle of daily living for many. In addition, tropical plants can help break up the landscape, seclude your water feature and allow you to try your hand at plants that just a few years ago people were saying would not grow in cold climates. So go with the trend of adding tropical plants to your water features and landscapes. You just never know where your imagination and design sense may take you next.