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Archives for June 18, 2016

Secret Garden Tour Features Wigginton Theme

As a special treat, tour-goers will hear from Wigginton’s daughter, Hydie Friend, who will discuss Wigginton’s legacy and design viewpoints..

The Secret Gardens of Wheeling Tour Garden Market takes place Saturday, June 25, and begins at the Mansion Museum in Oglebay. Area residents can view some of Wheeling’s most creative gardens, meet the passionate gardeners who create these lavish outdoor spaces and enjoy marketplace shopping with nearly 40 vendors. Guests will walk through four unique gardens, learn gardening tips and techniques and discover creative ideas to take home to their own backyards.

The Wigginton design locations that will be featured on the tour are kept secret until the day of the event. To discover which gardens are being featured, guests should arrive at the Mansion Museum between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. to purchase a ticket and receive a detailed map to find each of the secret gardens.

The Garden Market opens at 9 a.m. and is free and open to the public. The brick pathways outside the Mansion Museum will be lined with dozens of merchants and artisans selling items such as jewelry, pottery, crafts, health and beauty products, original artwork, live plants, floral arrangements, vintage fashions, baskets, garden decor, outdoor furniture and more. Refreshments will be available for purchase.

Vendors to be on site include: Amish Goodies, Bob’s Woodturning, Bower on the Market, Cedar Grove Fudge, Christian Bling, Crafty Trinkets, Dolce Pizzelles, Doterra Essential Oils, Dove Chocolates, Dragonfly Pottery Studio, Empress Emporium and Tea, French Twist Home and Garden, Jamberry, Jeweled Bird, King’s Blingz, Lippencott Alpacas, Misty Mountain Estate, Naturelle, Nerium, Norwax, Origami Owl, Premier Design Jewelry, Rustic Embellishments, Sandi’s Studio Workz, The Samara Shop, Signs of the Times, Silpada Designs Jewelry, Southwest Gemstone Creations,  Stella and Dot Jewelry, Straight Off the Farm, Tastefully Simple, Terry’s Tiles, That’s the Spot, Touch of Hawaii, Walt Smith Pottery, Windswept Farm, Thirty-One, Yardscape LLC.

Longtime landscape architect at Oglebay, Wigginton designed the garden center, par-three golf course, the Good Zoo, walking trails, terraced gardens, Schenk Lake and the 90-acre arboretum, which was named for him in 1981. In addition to his work at Oglebay, he also designed landscapes at Wheeling Park, Market Plaza, Bethany and West Liberty.

Wigginton’s design philosophy was that natural beauty, rather than buildings, should always dominate the landscape. For example, even though more than 100 buildings are located in Oglebay, the rolling hills, open fields and majestic trees are the dominant features.

“Most people are familiar with Brooks Wigginton’s public landscapes at Oglebay and Wheeling Park. However, he also designed gardens and plantings for numerous private residences in Wheeling,” Oglebay Institute director of museums Christin Byrum said. “This is a rare opportunity for the public to learn more about this widely respected landscape architect and tour his lesser-known private designs.”

Reflecting his study and writings, many of his small local gardens incorporate Italian design principals. He also traveled and studied garden design in Japan, and those experiences also influenced his designs. He designed approximately 90 residential gardens, often creating “garden rooms” that were natural outgrowths of the settings and captured the essence of the sites.

“As always, the garden tour reveals landscapes and homes that reflect the charm and tucked-away scenery of Wheeling’s neighborhoods all decked out in their spring splendor,” Byrum said. “Each space is alive with color and reflects Brooks Wigginton’s vision as well as the imagination and special interests of each homeowner.”

For more information, call the museums at 304-242-7272. Tickets for Secret Gardens Tour and Garden Market can be purchased at the door or in advance at

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Gardeners mark milestone

Whenever Dana Cole posts new content, you’ll get an email delivered to your inbox with a link.

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Art in the Garden Tour June 25

The Richmond Area Arts Council proudly presents this year’s Art in the Garden Tour on Saturday, June 25, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Six unique, beautiful gardens will be on display in the Richmond area.

Those who attend this year will see many beautiful flowers, interesting landscaping, a lovely pool area, a monarch butterfly demonstration garden in Million Park maintained by the Richmond Garden Club, a collection of native Kentucky trees and lots of very creative gardening ideas.

The RAAC Board and members of the Richmond Garden Club will serve as volunteers for this event. Also, members of the Richmond Garden Club will have a bake and plant sale at the Wolfe home.

There will be a guest artist at each garden showing their art which will be for sale. The artists for this year’s Tour will be Barry Adams, Denise Discepoli, Kim Owens, David and Beverly Hufford, and

The garden owners and location of the gardens are listed below. All the locations will be clearly marked with RAAC Event signs.

• Ray and Bobby Jackson, 415 Riva Ridge in Fountain Park.

• Ken and Diane Wedel, 143 Jack’s Trace in Jack’s Trace.

• Ron and Ruth Wolfe, 108 Westside Dr. in Willomac.

• Million Park, 169 Tates Creek Ave.

• Ann Stebbins, 208 College View.

• Keith and Missy Stinson, 231 Station Dr. in Golden Point

Directions to the gardens are available upon ticket purchase.

Tickets for the Art in the Garden Tourare available at the Richmond Area Arts Center which is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday and at each garden on the day of the Tour. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 the day of the Tour. All proceeds will benefit the Arts Council’s many programs. For additional information see or call 859-624-4242.

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Connecting the dots: George Vail’s new landscape at Willow Hall

Willow Hall in Morristown . Photo by Kevin Coughlin

By Margret Brady

As I continue to connect the dots between the activities at Willow Hall in the mid 1800s and the growing interest in all things sustainable today, I find that the innovations in landscaping begun at Willow Hall by George Vail remain as relevant today as they were then.

The idea of creating a landscape for the enjoyment of the public as well as the property owner was not common practice at the time. The concept of converting an industrial site to a thing of beauty that also could serve practical purposes was unheard of in 1843.

Many of Vail’s contemporaries, especially his father Stephen, considered his ideas odd to say the least.

His father had purchased the home of his son-­in­-law Dayton Canfield, after his daughter Harriet died.

That house was directly across the street from the home where George and his siblings had been raised.

Stephen began a major renovation of his new home, in what he considered the latest federal style. He gave his former home to his son George. He wanted to keep his children nearby.

George Vail

His daughters had married the sons of his neighbors, the Canfields and the Cutlers. He had been disappointed when his gifted son Alfred had chosen to live elsewhere and study religion instead of devoting himself to the family businesses.

By making George the owner of the industrial complex and providing him with a home on the site, Stephen made sure that George maintained his ties to Speedwell.

Bringing Alfred back to Speedwell was most likely the primary motivation for Stephen, when he supported the efforts of his sons to help Samuel Morse develop his idea for a new form of communication.

The major renovation and remodeling of his new home at the time gave no indication that Stephen had any interest or knowledge of any of the the architectural design and landscaping techniques taught by Morse and promoted in the best selling publications of Andrew Jackson Downing.

Stephen’s diary made no mention of any activity of Alfred, George and Sam Morse except for those activities relating to the development of the telegraph and his complaints about the cost and the time spent of the project without results.

George’s involvement in the Baldwin Locomotive Company in Pennsylvania was a result of his design for an iron wheel that made cross-country railroad travel possible.

It had made him independently wealthy, and Stephen feared he would become less interested in the Speedwell forge and factories. Turning the industrial complex over to George and giving him the family home was a way to maintain George’s ties to Speedwell.

Stephen supported his son’s involvement in the local Democratic party and his election campaigns. His father was not surprised that George decided to build a new house, more suited to his current place in society, but he did not expect George to build what was then considered a radical new style of home and to redo the entire landscape.

As George’s plans evolved over the next few years, it became obvious that they were unlike anything that had ever been built in the area before.

His new landscape included flower beds and a series of lanes and paths to enable people to travel throughout the site and enjoy the scenic vistas he created.

He even kept the old ice house as a picturesque spot topped with a fence that incorporated the original jailhouse door, salvaged when the jail was removed from the Morristown Green in 1827.

Although most of the available records, focus on the joint efforts of Samuel Morse and the Vails to develop and promote the telegraph, it is hard to believe that Morse never discussed the theories of sustainable architecture and landscaping while he was in Morristown.

His classes were based on the design theories of sustainable architecture in England and the writing of Andrew Jackson Downing. I can’t imagine that he and George did not discuss Georges plan’s for his new home at that time.

Downing wrote in the forward to his book, in June 1842, of his desire to inspire others to appreciate the superiority of the well designed home and garden and grounds, “full of beauty and harmony.”

He wrote about these superior forms, and the higher and more refined enjoyment derived from them, “that may be had at the same cost and with the same labor as a clumsy dwelling, and the uncouth and ill­-designed accessories.”

In 1843, George had begun to plan the design of his new home and gardens. Those plans would contain many of the ideas and features of Downing’s Design V., a cottage Villa in the bracketed mode.

The plans included a treatment of the hillside in the rear and the preparation of the turf. There was an illustration of a layout of curving paths and flower beds and kitchen and fruit gardens.

The original site at 330 Speedwell Ave. had a continuous slope toward the industrial complex surrounding Speedwell Lake. George’s first task was to create a level plateau to accommodate the new layout.

It took many months to remove the tons of sand before actual construction could begin. In 1848, the home was completed and George began to entertain his family, friends and associates there.

Stephen Vail, Samuel Morse and George Vail all had quite competitive natures. They all had gardens, livestock and farmed their land.

It also appears, by the records that remain, that George was the most successful in his efforts.

While Stephen spared no effort or funds to achieve his goals and Morse wrote extensively of his efforts at his new estate in Poughkeepsie, NY., the evidence clearly indicates that George’s results far surpassed them.

His chicken produced more eggs than Stephen’s chicken, although Stephen had built a bigger more costly chicken coop. George’s horses won the top honors at various competitions and his gardens consistently had a larger output and his fruit trees were of the finest quality.

Morse eventually gave up his farm, claiming his efforts had been done on behalf of his brother, who had moved elsewhere. Meanwhile, although mocked by Stephen’s friends and associates, George’s Willow Hall estate flourished in spite of his many political and personal distractions.

Sustainable building, landscaping and gardening as demonstrated by George Vail continues to be relevant today.

Sustainable Morristown, Grow It Green Morristown and the Morristown Environmental and Shade Tree committees are just a few of the current efforts to sustain the efforts begun at Willow Hall by George Vail.

The current owner of Willow Hall is the Passaic River Coalition. The PRC has a long history of working to preserve the precious water resources of the Passaic River and its tributaries.

The Whippany River, which supplies Speedwell Lake, is one of those tributaries. The home and landscape were remarkably well preserved, 166 years after George began his plans for the site.

With the help of Morris County and Green Acres funding, the PRC moved its headquarters there in 2009 and had it listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

As the only remaining site of its kind in Morristown, the PRC has made a commitment to restore and preserve the home and the site for the benefit of the public today and for future generations. George Vail would have been pleased.

Margret Brady is a trustee of the Passaic River Coalition, headquartered at Willow Hall, and a long time contributor to As the founder of the Morristown Town Council’s Historic Preservation Committee and the owner of an 1887 Victorian home in the Franklin Corners neighborhood, she has been studying and researching the history of Morristown families and homes for many years.


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In tough neighborhood, community garden thrives – The San Diego Union

— A decade ago, a little stretch of land along a busy residential street in Vista was a weed-covered magnet for people up to no good.

Now, it’s the spot where Gilberta Galvan takes her kids for family time.

This sliver of land, tucked down a roughly 10-foot embankment, has become a community garden. Row after row of fruits, vegetables and herbs have long replaced the foot-high weeds and prickly brush that previously covered the lot, along with empty beer cans and cigarette butts.

“We can come here and relax,” the 36-year-old Galvan said Wednesday evening, her son and daughter by her side, her husband checking their crops.

“People are very nice,” she said. “To me, it’s very special to have a place in the community. It’s like a family — and I can come with my family.”

The Galvans are among the Townsite area residents who tend a plot at what is formally known as the Benito Juarez Community Garden.

Founded in June 2006, the garden in a working-class Latino neighborhood will be feted this weekend by city and community leaders to mark its 10th anniversary.

The garden sits along Avenue de Benito Juarez, on a nearly 15,000-square foot property behind the Vista Acadamy of Visual and Performing Arts. The Vista Unified School District owns the land, and gave the OK to turn it into a garden.

Vista resident Bill de la Fuente, who runs the garden, said the neighborhood respects and embraces it.

“People walk by and see us doing positive things,” de la Fuente said last week. “They don’t see anyone drinking or hanging out like before.”

He said the project arose from the cooperation and urging of Townsite residents and community groups. It was initially spearheaded by Girls Inc. and the Vista Townsite Community Partnership, which administered it.

Three years after the garden started, the community partnership folded — threatening the garden’s future.

But the garden would not die. The community would not let it die.

Now, de la Fuente said, the garden is self-reliant and received its own nonprofit status in June 2015.

“We don’t depend on any programs,” he said. “We just depend on ourselves.”

His friend and fellow gardener Brisco Resendez, 55, has farmed land here since the growing space was established. He said he loves to garden, loves to “grow my plants naturally,” but also loves that this spot has brought new life into his community.

A decade ago, Resendez said, the land was home to “a lot of vandalism — until we decided to create this garden.”

Participants — often, it is a family — pay $50 a year for one of the 23 parcels, each of which is 18 feet long and 3 feet wide. People generally eat what they grow, but there’s sometimes enough to share with fellow gardeners or to sell.

Enrique Dominquez, 40, and his wife and children farm three plots, growing green beans, blackberries and tomatoes. Through their oldest daughter, the couple said in Spanish that they planted gardens as children themselves, and were eager to pass that skill to their own kids.

Daughter Yaquelim Tecchi, 16, said she has enjoyed gardening so much, she joined the Future Farmers of America club at Vista High School.

The garden is a draw for families, who come at least twice a week, sometimes more.

Galvan’s children, 13-year-old Jennifer and 8-year-old Sergio, each said they enjoy family time at the garden. And, they said, the organic food grown there tastes better than anything from the store.

Jennifer favors the mint her family grows, and on Wednesday she eagerly tore a leaf from the plant and ate it. Earlier, she showed off the chamomile her family planted to make tea. The teen said she loves gardening, and loves learning the how-to from her father, who runs a landscaping business. She said she has seen her little brother starting to pay closer attention, learning more.

Sergio, for his part, smiled and said he likes the fresh air.

Jennifer said the garden provides food — strawberries and cucumbers and tomatoes and more — and “keeps us entertained as a family.” She said it’s also a source of pride.

“I feel proud of my accomplishments — ‘I grew that.’”

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Bring living color to your garden – become a Master Gardener


• WHAT: Training classes

• WHEN: 1-5 p.m. Thursdays for 16 weeks, Aug. 4- Nov. 17

• WHERE: Victoria County 4-H Activity Center, 259 Bachelor Drive, Victoria Regional Airport

• COST: $175 fee includes classes taught by experts in field, scientific-based gardening information, extensive training manual, field trip in the area. Registration fee due at end of first session Aug. 4.

• Applications available at Texas AM AgriLife Extension Service – Victoria County, 528 Waco Circle at Victoria Regional Airport, online at or email

I guess from the very beginning, I was destined to become a Master Gardener.

Fun doing what you love to do

I loved working in the garden with my grandfather, and this got me started to garden at home and begin collecting plants and build my first greenhouse.

I rescued distressed plants from anywhere I could get them. I found I had a knack to revive them and would sell them at market days, which gave me money to buy new plants and supplies – and I have not stopped since.

Learn what to plant where

Have you ever wanted to know what to plant in your flower or vegetable garden to have lots of color and attract butterflies, hummingbirds and all sorts of creatures and bugs to enjoy? I learned all about this and how to bring living color to my garden by becoming a Master Gardener.

Learn what to do better

After completing the training, I came to realize where my mistakes were coming from in the past that prevented me from being a successful gardener. I found it very interesting how a simple little thing could make such a big difference in my results. Simple fixes are easy and give you a big sense of accomplishment and pride in what you have achieved.

Now is the perfect time to make this come true for you, too. Get involved in your community at the same time by volunteering through the Master Gardener program – and have fun doing what you love to do.

Training by experts in their fields

In the class, you will hear from top-notch speakers who are experts in their fields. You will receive a complete overview of gardening of all sorts, including soil fertility, turf grasses, plant diseases, plant propagation, rainwater harvesting, xeriscaping, insects, vegetables, herbs, container gardening, landscaping, lawn care, grafting trees and plant disease diagnosis. These are just some of the topics that will be covered.

My favorite classes when I was in the training program were on plant propagation and grafting plants. I really found it interesting how to graft heirloom tomatoes to new disease-resistant root stock to create a disease resistant heirloom with high yields.

Share experiences with new friends

Meet and make lots of new friends while you learn. There are no strangers among Master Gardeners, and they are always ready to help. Just ask for help on a project – and they are coming out of the woodwork to assist you.

You are never alone or feel abandoned at any time. If you have a question there is always someone who has the answer – or knows someone who will. Everyone is eager to share their successes to help you, and ready to share failures to help prevent you from making the same mistakes.

If you like to eat, there are always homemade snacks and goodies at most training and work sessions. Find your new favorite recipes as everyone is also eager to share or swap recipes – and there are some mighty good cooks in the group.

Learn a lot; grow a lot

I have learned many things through the Master Gardener program. Gardening is a science but not an exact science, so there are many variables that can change an outcome and even new varieties of plants that stem from accidents and mistakes.

I have grown and will continue to grow as time goes on. I urge you to take the challenge to grow yourself as well as your gardens. As one of the class coordinators this fall, I am looking forward to meeting each and every one of you.

Enroll now – don’t procrastinate

The 2016 Victoria County Master Gardener Training Program, coordinated by Texas AM AgriLife Extension Service – Victoria County, is once again being offered to those interested in gardening – and is open for applications.

See details on when and where the classes meet as well as how to apply and cost of the course in the information accompanying this article.

I am looking forward to working with all of you who are accepted to the class and choose to get your hands dirty this fall to bring living color to your garden. And we’ll have fun doing it, too.

The Gardeners’ Dirt is written by members of the Victoria County Master Gardener Association, an educational outreach of Texas AM AgriLife Extension – Victoria County. Mail your questions in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901; or


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First United Methodist garden walk set for June 25 – Journal Gazette and Times

‘Gather at the Gardens’ will be Saturday, June 25, this year.

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Cultivate a Pain Free Garden – 8 Tips to Avoid Back…

Tis the season. No, not for hanging stockings and festive lights. It’s the season for planting, growing, tending and harvesting. For Thurston County residents, the growing season is in full swing and that means yard work – lots of yard work.

For some, it’s staying on top of the weeds in your flower beds and keeping your yard tidy. For others, it means cultivating tender spring sprouts into a full-blown harvest. Whichever category you fall into (maybe both), you’ll be working hard to reach your gardening goals. And sometimes, all that work comes with a price – an aching back and sore, stiff muscles.

The right tool, such as this small garden fork, enables gardening from a standing versus kneeling position.

Eastside Chiropractic sees their fair share of weekend warriors visiting their Tumwater office after overdoing it in the yard. Dr. Murray Smith has a few tips to offer to help reduce the pain and increase the enjoyment of a season spent in your garden. And, while some of these may seem like no-brainers, we often forget to put them into practice until it’s too late and you are calling for an appointment with Dr. Smith or to schedule a massage.

  1. Warm Up First – While you aren’t preparing to run a marathon, you are preparing to utilize muscles that may be tight. Taking a five or ten minute walk and doing a few basic stretches will get your muscles ready for the bending and reaching that will inevitably follow.
  1. Bend from the hip – Avoid prolonged flexion of the spine – bending down by curving the spine. Instead, hinge forward from the hip, keeping the spine in alignment. This will reduce the strain on the spine and prolong the time you can spend in the garden pain free.
  1. Take breaks and switch tasks – Sometime I get focused on a goal, such as finishing an entire bed of weeding, and don’t want to stop until I’ve done it. The result? I can barely stand up when I’m done. Instead of going full-speed, take breaks every 20 minutes or so. Stand and stretch. Get a drink of water. Take a walk around the yard. Once rested, attack a new task such as deadheading or watering your planters – a standing or sitting task – before returning to finish weeding that flower bed.
  1. Even if you don’t own a gardening stool or kneeler, an overturned crate or bucket makes a handy stool.

    Use the right tools for the job – There are a myriad of different gardening tools and aids on the market and choosing the right ones can be confusing. But, with the right tools at hand, gardening chores can become easier and cause less strain on your body. Here are a few recommendations:

  • Padded kneeler/stool – This can be a lifesaver in the garden. Choose one that has a padded kneeling surface as well as handles to assist you getting up and down. Most handled varieties double as a garden stool when turned over, giving you the opportunity to change your posture during your work time.
  • Long-handled tools – Purchasing trowels or garden forks with longer (up to three feet) handles limits the bending and reaching needed to get pesky weeds. Combining the long handle with a stool allows for bending at the hip, as well, and saves the back a lot of strain.
  • Ratchet or power pruners – If hand strength and weakness are an issue, invest in a ratchet style pruner or a power pruner. These tools require little hand strength yet still get the job done quickly.
  1. Long handled tools, like this hand-held rake, enables you to reach around plants and to the back of beds without awkward bending and reaching.

    Use a cart or wagon – Utilize a tool bucket or cart to keep your gardening tools at the ready. A two-wheeled garden cart or a four-wheeled garden wagon are more ergonomic ways to carry your tools and materials with you rather than a wheelbarrow or bucket. Both of the latter options can be hard on the back and require more core strength and bending.

  1. Know your limits and ask for help – This suggestion can be tough for those of us who think we can do it all. But, there comes a point when we need to ask for help. Some tasks are better left to a team – either paid professionals or willing kids, grandkids, or neighbors. Know your limits and seek help when needed.
  1. Change your task, and posture, every 20 minutes. Try a job standing upright, such as dead-heading the hanging baskets.

    Treat your body well – In all things, gardening included, a healthy, strong body will take you far. Get plenty of rest, drink lots of water, eat a balanced and healthy diet and exercise regularly. If your body is used to moving each day, those hours in the garden during the summer won’t feel so foreign. And, if you’d like to improve your gardening strength and stamina, seek the advice of Mike Jensen at Eastside Chiro. His gentle, custom training programs can increase strength, flexibility, and stamina – all essential for a successful day in the garden.

  1. Seek relief for aches and pains – If you overdo it a bit this season in the garden, seek relief from your pain through rest and possibly a visit to Eastside Chiropractic for an assessment, adjustment or massage.

Eastside Chiropractic
1526 Bishop Rd. SW, Tumwater


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Ideas and tips for creating a tropical garden

This summer, tropical is topical. And that goes for gardens as well as pineapple-shaped ice buckets, palm-printed wallpaper and flamingo-themed cushions

You can see why. Tropical gardens are exotic and relaxing. Perfect for entertaining friends with a piña colada or two, but also for whiling away a lazy afternoon – preferably stretched out in a hammock. It’s a bit like going on holiday but with no flying involved.

For the UK gardener, developing a tropical garden can seem an Olympic-sized challenge. But, tropical plants can be surprisingly hardy. Plus, you can grow many of them in pots that you can bring inside during the colder winter months. Here’s how to create your own tropical paradise.

Position and preparation

A sheltered spot that is sunny and frost-free will give you a head start. But don’t be put off if that doesn’t describe your outdoor space. You can create the type of jungle conditions that tropical plants love by fashioning a protective upper canopy out of tropical-style trees, and also by preparing your soil in advance. It needs to be well drained and enriched with organic matter. Mulch if you can. It will recreate those forest-floor conditions where dying organic matter enhances the quality of the soil, improves drainage, prevents your plants from drying out too quickly and helps protect them from the cold.


Choose natural materials for the structural elements of your garden rather than hard landscaping that would look out of place in a tropical setting. Recreate wooden walkways through the lush vegetation with bark or timber paths that lead to a simple wooden gazebo or arbour in the style of a tropical shack. Display pots of exotic plants on decking and conjure up the drama of dark tropical nights with lighting. An uplighter can emphasise a special tree or the fronds of a fern, while spotlights shining through the foliage will create spectacular shadows. Hang lanterns in your seating area and complete the picture with rattan, or rattan-style garden furniture that has the added advantage of being easy to maintain.


Dense planting is key, so select plants that will give you a range of heights, from tall trees right down to ground-hugging plants. Once you have decided on your framework, varied foliage and exotic flowers will add a carnival feel. But make sure you plant tropical specimens in spring so their roots have time to get established before winter sets in.


Add depth with a mix of leaf shapes and colours. Half-hardy musa basjoo, or Japanese banana, with its long paddle-shaped leaves, contrasts well with broad Gunnera manicata (Chilean rhubarb) or the dark palmate leaves and creamy white flowers of Fatsia japonica. Shade-loving ferns and hostas make excellent ground cover while grasses, such as Carex comans, add variety, texture and an almost ghost-like quality as they sway in the wind.


Use bright flowers to add vibrancy and lift the green hues of your tropical garden. But don’t feel you have to stick to tropical varieties here – a mix of flowers that wouldn’t normally grow together can look really effective. Try exotic cannas alongside more familiar dahlias and lobelia. Showy agapanthus, crocosmia, jasmine, honeysuckle and hibiscus.


Summer is when your garden will be at its best. But tropical plants can be very thirsty so invest in a decent hose to stop daily watering becoming too much of a chore. In winter, bring tender plants in pots inside or investigate wrapping them in horticultural fleece or using straw to protect them from freezing temperatures. A greenhouse, if you have space, will protect your more delicate specimens.

Make it easy

To make your garden even more inviting this summer, why not brighten it up with the contemporary Janeiro four-seater dining set. Available in three colours, £180. Entertaining will also be made easy as the Berkley 3 burner gas BBQ cooks for up to 10 people, £100. 

Fire up the BBQ: create some tropical heat of your own with the Berkley gas BBQ

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