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January, 2018

Totally tropical garden style

If you're one of the lucky few who overwinters in warmer climes stop reading now! For the rest of us, this post is about experiencing the look and feel of a tropical garden closer to home. The images below were taken in Hunte's Gardens in Barbados. Hunte's Gardens is a lush landscape created by its owner, horticulturalist Anthony Hunte, who over many years, has tamed and transformed what was a sink-hole-like gully into today's tourist-attracting, tropical paradise. The whole garden is a study in creating the perfect tropical garden but how can you get the look closer to home?

Going tropical can be easier than you think though a lot is still dependent on having the right plant in the right place. That said, even with our cooler climate, there are plenty of plants out there that, when combined, will deliver a credible illusion of the tropical garden style. There are a few characteristics that typify this planting palette. Think big, bold architectural leaves, lots of foliar texture and hot colours. Choose plants that fit these criteria and that are suited your garden's soil and aspect, and you're half-way there!

Good, reliable shrubs include those pictured above, from left to right: the spotted laurel, Aucuba japonica with its speckled leaves; Leycesteria formosa featuring purple-red bracts, and the architectural Phormium with its strappy, arching leaves. Perennials for this type of planting scheme might include those pictured below, from left to right: Houttuynia cordata, good for leaf colour and ground cover; Euphorbia characias, and Hemerocallis whose flowers bloom for one day only hence it being commonly known as the Day lily. Adopt a tiered approach when planting the border in order to achieve that lush, bold look. Tiering plants will typically include a framework of taller-growing shrubs and architectural forms at the back of the border, complemented by a mid-layer of backbone perennials, finished off with more compact, lower-growing edging plants at the front of the border to link everything together.