The variety of plants that can be grown this far north is a constant surprise. We have found that by thoughtful selection (and keeping our fingers crossed that we don’t encounter a winter as severe as those of 2010 & 2011), taking the occasional risk with a more tender plant can pay off (Lobelia tupa, for example).
However, whilst we are ably assisted by well positioned shrubbery and shelter-belts, some plants just will not tolerate prolonged periods of low temperatures and frost.
With this in mind, our Tropical Garden includes significant plantings of exotic-looking shrubs and plants with foliage reminiscent of those thriving in the tropics; Yuccas (Adam’s needle), Eryngiums (Sea Holly), Phormiums and the strikingly gold-coloured but almost unpronounceable Japanese grass Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’, all appear in the foreground.
Further back are a number of particularly interesting specimens such as Eucalyptus gunnii, a number of different Paulownias (the Foxglove tree) and the Sweet Viburnum (Viburnum awabuki) to name a few.
Every year we intersperse the perennial plants with highly-coloured tender exotics such as Tithonia rotundifolia (Mexican Sunflower), Leonotis leonorus (Lion’s Tail), Phytolacca ‘Lakka Boom’ and the Castor Oil plant (Ricinus sp.) to provide that intense burst of colour we associate with all things ‘tropical’.
One particular aim of this garden is to create an ideal density of planting that is suggestive of the feeling of heaviness or even claustrophobia that exists in a natural tropical environment. It is something that we continue to focus on.
Whilst Summer is the best time to see the Tropical Garden, Springtime also delivers a wonderful show of flowering Magnolias that line the pathway (M. soulangeana, M. soulangeana alba, brozzonii, nigra, lennei and the rare dawsoniana).