This week, our in-house gardening expert Will Giles gives us some handy tips and ideas for keeping that tropical feeling in our gardens whilst heading into Autumn.
What a glorious time of year this is with the golden hues that only this auspicious month can bring, bridging the gap between the halcyon days of summer and depths of a British winter. It is so easy to get torn between leaving tender exotics out and maybe losing them, or bringing them into frost free conditions, especially if you are new to this style of gardening – what to do?
Here at the Exotic Garden in Norwich on the east coast of England, we grow both hardy and tender plants – the hardy ones provide year around attraction such as the many different types of Palms and bamboo’s, while the tender summer planting gives colour and very fast growth, especially with such exotics as the tender Ricinus communis (castor oil Plant) (Right – Click to buy here) which can grow from 6-10ft tall in the summer season grown from seed planted in early April to full size by high summer. It is one of the many exotic plants that can be grown for almost instant exotic effect. Grown from seed every year, there is no need for storage. For intensely coloured foliage, nothing can beat the kaleidoscopic range of colours that can be found in the Coleus hybrids, which look fabulous until the first frosts blackens them haling the end of the season. Then there are those plants like the root hardy banana Musa basjoo, which, is as its name implies, is root hardy – we have been growing them for over a quarter of a century here at the Exotic Garden. If you want their grandeur but no winter protection, you can just leave them alone and they will re-grow the following season from the ground, though in a mild-winter they will keep their fleshy stems. Alternately, as we do here, you can protect the stems with straw filled fleece which will keep out the severest of winters letting them reach gargantuan proportions over the years.
Gingers are wonderful tropical plants that give a very exotic feel to the garden with their stems often rising up to seven feet or more in one season (depending on species) with spectacularly scented blooms in high summer though into late autumn, then dying down in November to re-emerge (without protection) the following spring.
I have been growing tender and hardy tropical’s at the Exotic Garden for thirty years now and would be happy to answer any questions you might have on this exiting style of gardening…