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.
Tropical-style gardens break all the rules. Bright, colorful flowers combined with a wide variety of leaves that can be anything from bold and glossy to fine and ferny are seen scrambling together. This is the look of the tropics. It is this look that creates a tropical paradise. Add in a water feature or two and you have created a private Eden in your backyard.
If you prefer to work with tropical looking plants to give your garden a permanent bone structure try plants such as Cortaderia ‘Pumila’ which is a dwarf pampas grass and trumpet lilies. Phyllostachys aureosulcata, golden grove bamboo, has a tropical appearance but is hardy to zone 4. There are many varieties of Hibiscus that are hardy to at least zone 5. Musa basjoo, Japanese Fiber Banana, is hardy to at least zone 5 with protection. Ferns are another great tropical looking plant that are cold hardy.
For gardens that get the most use during the evening hours or at night, try growing Brugmansia or night blooming Jasmine in a container if you are in USDA zone 7 or colder. If you prefer something hardy, try one of the many varieties of nocturnal Daylilies. There are a variety of other night blooming plants available such as 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.