Hot Plants for Cool Climates

Posted by 13.04. 2007 08:53:09 (11511 readers)

Hot Plants for Cool Climates: Gardening with Tropical Plants in Temperate Zones

Gardening with Tropical Plants in Temperate Zones | The most exciting new trend in garden design is the lush look of the tropics -- no matter where you live! If, like so many gardeners, you're a little bored with pastel flowers and rigid borders, welcome to the jungly garden, where the plants have huge shiny leaves, boldly colored foliage, ferny textures, and flame-colored flowers. Now that garden centers and nurseries are stocking banana plants, elephant ears, giant ferns, and Amazon lilies, you can have your own tropical garden no matter where you live. Whether you want to go the whole way and turn your suburban yard into a jungle paradise or simply want to grow a few tropical plants in containers, you'll add pizzazz to your garden and your gardening experience by indulging in these exciting new plants.

How do you grow tropical plants in a cold climate? The way you grow annuals or other tender perennials -- you plant new ones each season or winter them over indoors. And you can even include hardy plants with a tropical look to augment the true denizens of the junble. If you've ever bemoaned the sorry appearance of an August garden, tropicals are the perfet answer -- their leaves stay fresh and they bloom undaunted by summer's worst heat. In HOT PLANTS FOR COOL CLIMATES, you will find both inspirational photographs and solid information on how to design a flamboyant tropical landscape and grow the plants that make it happen no matter where you live.

Using flamboyant plants to evoke tropical gardens is the hottest trend in the gardening world, perhaps best described as the "banana and canna" style of garden design. Hot Plants for Cool Climates makes clear, for those of us without greenhouses or the time and muscles to dig and wrap plants for winter, that this look can be achieved by using tropical-looking hardy plants or by planting container gardeners that can be moved indoors before first frost.

Most tropical plants are perennial in their native habitats, and if we lived in Hawaii, we too could grow agaves, Elephant's Ear, and Angel's Trumpet outdoor year-round. For those of us who garden in less benign climates, the authors give instructions on mulching and wrapping such plants to protect them from freezes. It involves straw and burlap and leaves the plants looking like mummified little soldiers, but able to withstand temperatures 20 degrees lower than without protection.

The gardens pictured in the plentiful color photographs are certainly tempting, as they overflow with huge leaves, flashy foliage, exotic flowers, ponds and vines, all combined into the rich tapestry of a jungle. You can almost smell the jasmine and hear the chattering of the parrots. Thankfully, the chapter on hardy plants for the tropical look (bamboos, grasses, hardy bananas, ferns, Petasites) puts this style of garden within the reach of most gardeners, no matter if they live in Minnesota or California. Especially useful are the appendices, which list plants for a variety of design situations and a source list for the plants recommended throughout the book. --Val Easton

Author: Dennis Schrader, Susan A. Roth, Susan Roth,
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin 2000-02-08

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