There is a part of the garden which seldom gets mentioned in blog posts, because it is out of my comfort zone. It is also not really mine, in the true sense of the word. Well, it is mine in that I love it and enjoy it, but I don't plan it or plant it or maintain it. I don't really understand it, and it is a bit of a mystery to me, like growing Bonsai or giant vegetables, I don't have the skills to create it. That doesn't mean I don't love spending time in it, I just don't get what makes it tick.
For a start the drama is mainly in the foliage, whereas I like my drama to be highly floriferous.
The drama is hard to create, and comes partly, I think, from having height ... 'in your face' height. So, turn the corner and there is a big palm right next to the narrow grassy path. The feeling is of a lush, exotic jungle. Leaves are generally big, and there is variety of form, texture and colour, all jostling together.
Me, I'm a simple soul, striving for an exuberant cottage garden crammed with roses, lupins and sweet peas. It's the flowers which do it for me, the colours and form, and the plants themselves. I love to collect individual plants , so none of that ' three the same' nonsense for me ! The beds are edged with small plants and other plants are graded in height behind them so it's a bit scary when the rules are changed, torn up, thrown away, as they are in the Exotic garden.
The Gunnera breaks all the rules, and is the undisputed king of the garden. One leaf can easily measure a metre across. It is a plant which suffered dreadfully in the winter of 2010, and, although it was not killed off, it had a severe setback, and is still returning to its former glory.
The banana is a new addition this season, and is 'Musa Cavendish Dwarf', a variety which is frost tender, so we will need to cosset it through the cold weather. For a 'Dwarf', it's quite a size already !
The sub tropical garden is my husband's baby, created over the last 20 years and nurtured through the vagaries of the English climate. In the appallingly cold winter of 2010 we lost so many of our big palms, cordylines and tree ferns. Not only heart breaking, but very expensive too. The lost plants have been replaced now but it has taken all this time to get things back on track. We had been accepted by the 'Yellow Book' for the second year running, to open our garden under the NGS scheme, but the damage was so bad we had to pull out.
The Exotic garden wakes up slowly, and when the rest of the garden is bright eyed and bushy tailed, it is still yawning from its long winter sleep. The tree ferns just do it to worry us, they steadfastly refuse to show any new growth at all until we are totally convinced that they are dead and then, overnight, they gleefully put out new fronds.We discovered that if you dig about gently, you can feel the bumps of tightly furled new fronds deep inside the trunk, before they begin to grow. We spend a lot of time in Spring feeling about for those little bumps, and doing little jaunty celebration dances when we think we find one.
The 'jungle' effect in the Sub - tropical garden is created by close planting a variety of plants, which, although looking exotic, are, for the most part, totally hardy. Certain focus plants are tender, but the majority are tough, spit- in - the - face- of -frost sort of plants . The backbone of the garden consists of ferns, Fatsia Japonica (Castor Oil plant), Hostas, grasses, Ligularia and bamboos.
This Aeonium is one of the many babies we have, from a single mother plant. They are so easy to propagate, using a sharp knife to separate them from the main stem of the parent, they then root easily in gritty well drained compost.
Hostas - the large leaved one is 'Sum and Substance', the other is not known.
Various ferns and a young Ligularia 'Desdemona'.
Below are photos showing two new areas which are in the process of being planted. Although difficult to make out, there is a row of Fatsias planted at the back, which will provide a glossy evergreen backdrop, in a few years time. There are also young hostas and ferns, newly planted in there, and another Gunnera too. This Gunnera is a smaller variety than 'Manicata' and is called 'Tintoria'.
The other new area contains a white Crinum, Lobelia Cardinalis, ferns and Brunnera. The fern on the left is 'Polysticum Plumosum', and the Brunnera is 'Macrophylla Floraison'.
The character of this part of the garden is very different to all the other areas, and it is a very restful place to spend time ... which is why I have my hammock set up there !!