Using Hardy Plants to Create a Sub-Tropical Garden

Ben Candlin was our May speaker and members were treated to a great evening.

Ben’s specialty at his nursery in Woodbury is Aroids including Arisaema, Amorphophallus, Arum, Colocasia and Zantedeschia. You can see these on his website.

Arisaema triphyllum

Many books have been written on sub-tropical gardening. In the late nineteenth century William Robinson had already written “The Sub-tropical Garden” and ten years later, in 1881 wrote “The Wild Garden” – a reference to less formal layouts rather than actual wilderness. Henry Cook published “A Gloucestershire Wild Garden” in 1903.Myles Challis wrote “The Exotic Garden” in 1989 and Will Giles “The New Exotic Garden” in 2003.

Many of these books are available from Amazon.

There are essentially two styles of sub-tropical plants. Those which thrive in mild, damp areas such as Devon, and those (known as Xerophytes) which prefer a dry climate, such , as found in the south-east of England.

Ben suggests you create the backdrop to your planting scheme first, using for example, Chusan palms (do well in Devon but grow slowly), tall grasses such as Miscanthus, Fatsia, clumping (not running) bamboo, tree ferns, Tetrapanax papyrifera “Rex” (a Fatsia on steroids! but likes full sun), bananas, Cannas, ginger lily, vodoo lily.


Fatsia spider’s web

Chusan Palm

Tetrapanax papyrifera “Rex”

There is much more information on Ben’s website, so if you are interested in these exotic-looking plants do take a look.