Tropical Garden UK - October Autumn Walk-Round


With the full force of autumn upon us the poor tropical effect garden is suffering the effects of the cooler nights and lower light levels of our rubbish English climate. So plant species such as the Hostas, Dahlias and Salvias are beginning are drawing the nutrients from their leave to store in their roots and as such the vibrant colours of summer are now tarnishing.

However all is not lost as with a little remedial maintenance the last vestiges of quality can be kept for a few weeks more. With that in mind, English horticulturist walks around the garden to see what can be done to keep the standards going for a little while longer.

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Tropical Gardens UK - We bought even more exotic, cold hardy, tropical-effect plants!

 After the initial planting of our new exotic cold-hardy effect garden earlier on in the year we thought we would pop out and see if there was anything interesting in the local garden centres and nurseries which we could add to our collection. We wasn't expecting there to be too much around but lorna manages to find a lot more than I was expecting her to.

So in this video Lorna explains what she has picked up and will even try to pronounce some of the botanical names which is always good for a laugh!

A few of my favourites were picked up including the Dasylirion longissimum - Mexican Grass Tree and the wonderful Sphaeropteris cooperi.

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TOP 100 UK GARDENS - Chelsea Physic Garden: October Tree Walk


Established in 1673 by the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries, the four acre site which makes up the Chelsea Physic garden London, England was originally created simply to grow plants to be used as medicine. It is among the oldest botanical gardens in Britain and its rock garden is indeed the oldest in Europe, devoted to alpine plants and Mediterranean plants. 

Recently, English horticulturist Lorna had the opportunity to visit Chelsea Physic Garden and go on an autumn tree walk. So why not join her and her guest Zoe Spicer as they check out the wonders of this historic garden.

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How to Grow the Tropical Effect 'Must-Have' Garden Plant - Tetrapanax papyrifer 'Rex'

Tetrapanax papyrifer 'Rex' is arguably one of the best exotic, tropical effect, cold-hardy plants around. It has magnificent, architectural leaves and has proven to be hardy to the extreme. Native to southern China and the island of Taiwan it is commonly known as the 'Rice Paper Plant' as the stem pith is used to make a substance commonly called rice paper, but more properly called pith paper.

In the UK you can expect to see Tetrapanax papyrifer 'Rex' at its full height anywhere between 3–5 metres tall, however in its native habitat 7 meters have been observed!

So how do you grow the tropical effect 'must-have' garden plant that is Tetrapanax papyrifer 'Rex'? For best results position in full sun to dappled shade and prior to planting add a very rich compost such as composted farmyard manure to a rate of 50/50 with your existing soil. Dig a hole at least twice the size of the root ball, ideally followed by a layer of good quality multi-purpose compost at around 3-5cm thick, this helps the young Tetrapanax transition from the container compost to the soil.Tetrapanax like to be moist but not waterlogged. They will not tolerate standing in water (even during the heat of the summer) as this can promote the incidence of root rots!

The species is grown as an ornamental plant and has received the Royal Horticultural Society 's Award of Garden Merit .


African Cacti 'Stapelia schinzii' - Carrion Flower Cactus


Stapelia schinzii (otherwise known as the Carrion Flower) is a wonderful looking specimen and native to SW. Angola to Namibia. It is a succulent subshrub and grows primarily in the desert or dry shrublands often under the light cover of larger plants. It was first discovered for western science in 1908, its findings published in the German publication Vierteljahrsschr. Naturf. Ges. Z├╝rich 53: 491 by A.Berger & Schltr.

It is the largest flowering Stapelia in the Namibia (but not within the entire genus) with a bloom reaching upwards of 20cm. The  size is important as it is fly pollinated and required the surface area to produce the pungent carrion-like odour to attract them.

As an ornamental specimen it can be grown as a glass house specimen or outside during mild weather as either groundcover or as a hanging basket plant.

Careful watering is required over the summer months but keep them dry over the winter with a minimum temperature of around 10 degrees.

HOW TO GROW STAPELIA SHINZII

Stapelia schinzii is a rarely seen (at least it is in the United Kingdom)  clump forming succulent plant grown for its impressively large, ornamental flowers. Native to Namibia, Southwest Africa the roughly star-shaped blooms open to show the largest of all native Stapelia blooms at an impressive 20 cm in diameter! Un the UK the flowering period will be around September

Its native habitat is found between 800-2000 meters above sea level yet unlike the majority of cacti tends to be found growing in the shade of other plants. Once established Stapelia shinzii can form a lax clump of approximately 100 cm in diameter.

It is difficult to find a specimen to purchase but sometimes propagation material can be found online. Stems should be allowed to callous off for a few days before planting into a good quality, compost. Avoid free draining or specialist cacti composts as these will keep the root system too dry. water regularly over the summer but never leave the compost waterlogged or completed dry. Feed monthly with a high potash fertiliser over the spring and summer.



Tropical Garden UK - Early Autumn maintenance

 

Its is now October and autumn is upon us. So this with the cooler night temperatures and lower light temperatures out exotic cold-hardy tropical effect plants are starting to run out of steam. Dahlias are getting leggy, canna lilies are losing the intensity of leaf colour and the hostas are beginning to die back in preparation for winter.

However, this slow decline can be halted, albeit superficially by dead-heading flowering specimens, keeping weeds at bay and supporting those plants that are now beginning to struggle under their own weight.

Autumn maintenance will also push into winter preparations so watch English horticulturist walk round his garden and discuss the up and coming jobs that will need to be done in a timely fashion to ensure great displays next year.

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Grow Free Aeonium (Tree Aeonium or Irish Rose or Tree Houseleek) from Cu...


Aeoniums are arguably one of our absolute favourite succulents. I think it is because of how the apical rosette of leathery leaves look like exotic blooms. Admittedly under the super-soft environment experienced in the UK the leaf rosettes can become extremely elongated to the point that the stems struggle to support them, but I think that this is a far more favourable ornamental effect that the tight 'buttons' of foliage seen in the harsh climate of the southern Mediterranean basin. 

Anyway, they keys to the success of Aeoniums is one - how easily the can produce unusual and exciting colour variations. And two - how easy they to propagate vegetatively. So in this video we show you just how easy it is to grow Aeoniums from cuttings and of course that makes them (almost) entirely free!

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Free Giant Ornamental Onions 'Allium giganteum' from Seed

 

The giant ornamental onion - Allium giganteum is not only one of my favourite of all the flowering bulbs, it is one of my favourite plants of all! And why wouldn't it be with its strongly held, large spherical globe-like blooms it is arguably the best of all 'drumstick' style flowers.

However the bulbs can be difficult to obtain and then difficult to find ones large enough that will flower in the following year. However there is a low cost option to growing plenty of  giant ornamental onions and that is to do so from seed. So why not check out English horticulturist Simon as he explains the very simple method of propagating Allium giganteum.

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How to Plant Giant Allium and Giant Ornamental Onion Bulbs


Giant Allium bulbs and their cultivars are a great way to add both colour and architectural effect to the garden. However they need to have a cold period to initiate flowering in the spring so planting them as fresh as you can find them and have them in the ground in both a timely fashion and during the right season is all important. So assuming your bulbs are as good a quality as you can find them then this video explains how to plant giant allium and giant ornamental onion bulbs in such a way that you can maintain those impressive flower heads year after year.

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Best Mediterranean Gardens - S'Hort del Rei, Palma, Mallorca (Aka. Majorca)


Join horticulturist Simon and Lorna as they take a walk around the S'Hort del Rei in Palma, Mallorca (Majorca). We wouldn't say that this was a flourishing garden or even one that is particularly well-maintained, but it is undoubtedly hugely historic and sited on the outskirts of the superb Cathedral of Santa Maria of Palma and 13th century Palace de l'Almudaina. The very name of S'Hort del Rei means King's garden so you are literally walking in the footsteps of  Royalty!

The problem with this garden as well as the other public gardens and spaces in Mallorca is that they are not valued, maintained or respected by those responsible. So while the original design of the gardens is truly lovely and clearly thought through the grounds have not been maintained and left to degrade (hence the number of fenced off areas). The borders are not finished as shown by the exposed irrigation pipes and dead plants are left in the displays

However by comparison to the other gardens we visited it is still arguably the best in Palma which really isn't a great accolade.

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Tropical Invasive Plant Monster - Clerodendrum bungei


Back in the day I used to sell this plant in the garden centres and to be fair it was handsome looking specimen with lush bold leaves and usual yet exotic blooms. It was definitely an eye-catcher. Fast forward 20 years and I haven't really seen them since until I moved into our village where they have proven themselves an absolute menace. Using vigorous roots they have managed to race across to my garden from the original planting 200 meters down the lane! No wonder Clerodendrum bungei no longer seems to be sold. It is genuinely an invasive menace. However Lorna likes it so we are currently arguing as to whether we are going to keep it or not.

So why not join us in our conversation regarding the merits of this garden menace and if you have any strong views yourself then you are very welcome to leave us a message in our YouTube comments section.

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African Cacti 'Orbea variegata' - Carrion Flower or Star Flower


If you are interested in growing African cacti then Orbea variegata is probably the easiest species to begin with. Although not actually a cactus but instead a specialist succulent it is super-easy to grow, super-easy to propagate and will even survive outside in an unheated greenhouse (at least it will where I live on the south coast of England. And this isn't a bad thing as when the blooms open they will smell of carrion! 

They can be difficult to find but they will pop up at Cacti and Succulent shows as well as maybe some plant material on-line from which you can propagate your own specimens. Of course the best thing about these wonderful plants are the gorgeous blooms which are incredible intricate in their colouration and design. The second best thing this that they will thrive on neglect just so long as you water them at least once a month but preferably weekly during the growing season.

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How to Grow the Tropical Effect Garden 'Must-Have' - 'Kniphofia caulescens'

 

If you are looking for plants to provide you with both exotic colour and architectural effect then Kniphofia caulescens - (Red Hot Poker) has to be up there for strong consideration. Unlike the majority of the rather dull (my opinion only) pastel shades of weak, overly-leafy growth that seems to the the trend for Kniphofia cultivars at the moment, Kniphofia caulescens is an absolute man of a plant with bold, muscular blooms on stocky stems which shine magnificently against the backdrop of gorgeous powder, glaucous-blue foliage. 

However the news is better than that is is evergreen, extremely hardy and capable of surviving plenty of neglect. Just avoid planting in areas prone to waterlogging over the winter. As a tip, tie leaves together in late autumn to form a canopy over the crown in order to prevent water from settling in the crown and freezing.

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I bought dead plants from the supermarket. Will they recover?


I took a risk and bought some of those dead-looking plants off the supermarket reduced trolly, but should I have bothered? Only time will tell but with some good cultivation technique I may be able to revive at least one of them. So in this video we discuss the problems associated with buying dried-out supermarket plants, something I wouldn't usually do as they are usually beyond the point of revival. However on this occasion I was persuaded by the super-cheap price.

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Free Tropical Plants by Propagation - Update


For the uninitiated, growing a tropical garden in the UK must appear to require huge amounts of backbreaking work and specialist horticultural knowledge. But this is simply not true. With minimum knowledge and the most basic of equipment (bag of compost, a glass of water and some second hand pots) will get you started and allow you to propagate a surprisingly amount of fancy species and cultivars for absolutely free! And who doesn't want that?

Less than two months ago English horticulturists Lorna and Simon began making a few videos on propagation, but now its time to see if their techniques actually worked. So in this video they bring to the table the plats that have been featured in the previous videos for an update as well as quickly go over the techniques they used.

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PLANT CHOICES FOR AN EXTREMELY COLD-HARDY, TROPICAL EFFECT GARDEN

 

It is easy, or at least relatively so, to create a cold-hardy, tropical effect garden, but is it still possible to produce a tropical effect garden if you experience extremely cold winters? By that I mean parts of the world where winter temperatures can drop to around - 15 degrees celsius or 5 degrees Fahrenheit in old money!

Well the answer is of course yes, however there will be some more cultural work involved with some of the plants in my following selection to give them a helping hand over the finish line of survival. To promote the effect add canna and dahlias which can be lifted and brought in under protection each year. Also consider growing salvias and tobacco plants as cheap annuals for their vibrant colours and architectural effect. 

Palms

Trachycarpus fortunei 'Chinese Windmill Palm' -15 Celsius
Bismarck Palm 'Bismarckia nobilis' -9 Celsius (my absolute favourite)
Mediterranean Fan Palm 'Chamaerops humilis' -12 celsius

Bamboo 

Phyllostachys aurea -15 to possibly -20 Celsius
Phyllostachys bissetii -25 Celsius!
Phyllostachys nigra - Black bamboo -20 Celsius
Phyllostachys aureosulcata f. spectabilis  -25 Celsius

Banana

Musa basjoo, root hardy to -12 celsius with a thick mulch
Musella lasiocarpa -7 with protection such as thick mulch and a wrapping of horticultural fleece

Hostas

Giant leaved hostas -15 easily but if you are worried apply a dry mulch to the crown

Crocosmia

Most species and cultivars will go down to -15 Celsius

Fatsia

Established species and cultivars can tolerate down to -10 Celsius but they will look shocking until the re-grow through the damage.

Phormium

Phormium species and cultivars will generally go to -10 Celsius, but can go colder is protection is in place

Cordyline

Cordyline species and cultivars will generally go to -10 Celsius, but can go colder is protection is in place

Kniphofia

Kniphofia species and cultivars will go down to -15 but it is worth putting a dry mlch on the crow to be on the safe side

Yucca

Yucca baccata -20 Celsius
Yucca filamentosa - 20 Celsius

This list is by no means exhaustive but it will set you in the right direction for building yourself an extremely cold-hardy, tropical effect garden.