Foliage, Ornamental Grasses, And Succulents
Many varieties of
ornamental grasses and spiky succulents are available for all
Agaves and Yucca are hardy in my zone 6. I use them almost everywhere...
as backdrops, and centerpies in my Succulent and
cactus garden, in the zen garden, and
around my water features.
They go well
with fountain grasses and those that are found in marginal
bog areas. The grasses have architectural
value in many garden design themes.
Autumn Ferns and Lady Ferns are easy to grow.
The color combo of these two is stunning.
Both are cold tolerant and thrive in shady areas
with a minimal exposure to daylight. These are beautiful as your
garden "floor", and in hanging baskets.
Yucca 'Color Guard'.
of my favorite foliage plants showcased in several of my garden themes.
Hardy in zones 2-10. About 24" tall. Sword-like leaves White flowers
in early to mid-summer.. Drought tolerant. Resistant to rabbits and deer.
It's a beautiful backdrop plant, giving height and color to your designs.
plants are hardy down to zone 2
Purchase long, lightweight, inexpensive rectangular
planters. and plant 3-5 dwarf ferns or dwarf ornamental grass in each of them. Choose the
shortest, hardiest ferns that have a little color... lots have
orange and yellow on their fronds. Most Japanese painted ferns
have shades of burgundy and silver. Both grow well, and are hardy
in the northeast.
Choose dwarf banana, lemon, lime, guava, papaya, figs or pomegranate
the tropical look, if it's workable in your planting zone.
Fragrant leaves and fruit scents are a bonus. Choose brightly
colored pots, but avoid mexican, country, victorian, egyptian or
Many non-hardy dwarf fruit varieties can grow indoors in the
winter. Many varieties are well-suited for patio gardens. I have
dwarf lemons and limes.
Note: Dwarf fruit trees are dwarf in
size, only... The fruit is the same size as the standard tree
varieties. Less space, same fruit.
For height, try
Tall Canna lilies, and Brugmansia "Angel's
Angel Trumpets - One of my favorites. It grows super-fast
in warmer climates, and they're
very tall and fragrant.
Brugmansia look great
in pots in northern climates, and where they can be controled. They reach about 3
Mine were a row against a wall, planted in-ground
and they reached 6 ft. There are dwarf varieties. They are
not hardy in the northeast, so you'd have to use it as an
ornamental, and bring it indoors for the winter. Brightly
colored succulents are great companion plant. Very
pretty at the base of potted plants and along the edges of
Hardy in the hotter planting
zones, these can be trained as a tree, and in pots. The large and
fragrant blooms are like upside-down lilies. When I gardened in
Zone 8, I used to think they were a bit invasive. The stalks die
in fall, and they come back up in the spring and shoot sky-wards.
I didn't like the clean-up at the end of the year. Thick stalks
required heavy duty lopping shears. Cutting them down at the end
of the season in the south is necessary. And it was a pain in the
butt. They look like dead corn
stalks when they die back.
Go bold and
use colorful planters and containers for ferns and other
Place the low planters at ground-level, in front
of taller trees and shrubs. If there's shade available under the
trees, they'll love it. As the ferns grow and spread out, it will
appear as though the ferns are the ground cover on a rainforest or
If you have the space in your
small garden area, there are several beautiful vertical growing
systems....4 or more rectangular pots arranged on a vertical and
slanted stand, with space between the rows, in steps. These can work well
for a privacy surround on your terrace or balcony. Balcony and
porch railing planters work very well for plants and and vines to
tumble from, and foliage can stand out among flowers in your
garden planting. No empty spaces will appear between levels in the balcony and
porch garden plan.
and Design Ideas
Spaces Big and
Small - Break down the larger design, use hanging
and vining flowers on balcony railings and big pots on
terraces and patios.
layout examples can be scaled up or down, to suit your
Potted plants can replace the in-ground plantings
Your Tropical Garden
Use fallen logs, wood from trees,
driftwood, and river stones
as accessories and as part of your design. You might
like to use some ideas from The Stumpery
to include a water feature in your tropical garden design. Choose
a simple wall or free-standing fountain, or invest in, or create a
water garden that can host
surrounded by reed grasses and potted plants like dwarf Egyptian
papyrus, elephant ears, bird-of-paradise, or canna
lilies, and break out the tiki torches. I use solar fountains in
almost every garden bed and in my birdbaths.
seating areas in which to enjoy the sound of the moving water. For
a small space, try to fit in a bistro table and chair among the
plants and add that fountain. If your retreat is very shady,
choose an electric fountain, if you have an outlet nearby. But
solar is better. My entire landscape utilizes solar power for
lighting. No wires, no bills.
A few colorful metal lizard, butterflies, A sun, and frog sculptures here and there, give it
a tropical habitat feel. Add a few small solar light strings with
warm white light for evening ambiance.
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