Sunday, September 12, 2010

Jouney to a Jungle!

Following on from the photos of the Devon Jungle Garden in my last post, here's some further shots of the site as work progressed.

This first shot was taken from the top of a bank opposite the border (eventually to be planted with Yuccas, Phormiums, Red Hot Pokers and other hardy exotic looking plants). At this stage, no planting had taken place, and the soil was still being prepared. To the left, and just out of shot, is a small brook. The new border was made slightly raised - well above the highest known level of the water in times of flood.

Here's another shot of the border prior to any planting, also showing the mock ruin. This feature has now been cleaned up and made into a seating area, making it a perfect spot for bbqs, having bonfires in the chimney and general sitting and relaxing!

The largest plant for the jungle border was a 90 litre Trachycarpus fortunei. Having the evergreen structure of a palm of this size provides immediate, year round interest, and an important focal point to this part of the border. In order to ensure the best possible start for the palm, the planting hole was thoroughly soaked and the surrounding soil well prepared with good compost. It has paid off. Several new leaves have been produced throughout the season, and the growth rate will speed up over the coming years once the roots are fully established.

Due to the surrounding trees and relatively sheltered position, wind damage is unlikely to be a major problem and should allow the beautiful Trachycarpus leaves to develop without becoming shredded and looking unsightly. Sadly this an all too common sight, especially around here in Devon where this species is often planted in coastal towns along the sea front!

September is always a month of mixed emotions. The nights are noticable closing in and Autumn feels just around the corner, however, it must also be one of the best months in the exotic style garden. The plants have had a whole summer in which to grow and are still looking fantastic. Other more traditional styles of garden often struggle for late season interest and colour by this time of year. This particular garden will look great right up to the first frosts.

The growth rate of some of the exotics has been incredible in just one season. It's hard to believe that this area of the garden has been planted up for less than 6 months! This final photo shows the area at the time of planting in May. Now, during mid September, it is a struggle to see any soil at all!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Devon Jungle Garden!

I thought it was high time that I showed a few shots of one of the gardens I've been involved in this year.

This freshly created jungle style garden was planted up at the beginning of the season, although the initial concept and design was drafted out during the horrendously cold weather of January and February earlier this year.

When I first saw this particular site I was blown away by its potential, the long and narrow plot leading down to a small brook lent itself perfectly to an exotic jungly theme. There was, however, an enormous amount of work (and still is!) involved in clearing the dense thicket of brambles, nettles and other persistent weeds that smothered parts of the site.

This is a garden of surprises, complete with a beautiful mock ruin building constructed from re-used bricks and local stones. It serves as a wonderful spot for a bbq on warm summer evenings!

Afternoon sunlight highlighting the beauty of Musa basjoo foliage with Cordyline australis behind.

The transformation from a bare site to a plant-filled jungle paradise has been remarkable over just one season. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly large leaved plants such as bananas and tree ferns can grow! I never get tired of these plants. The creation of this particular border is the first phase in a number of planned new areas and features to the garden. More exotic planting is in the pipeline!

A good sized Trachycarpus fortunei along with Cordyline australis and a couple of superb specimens of Dicksonia antarctica provide a framework to the jungle. Bananas such as Musa basjoo, Musella lasiocarpa and Ensete ventricosum Maurelii add a further touch of the exotic with their enormous sail-like leaves.

The dramatic arching fronds of Dicksonia antarctica along with Ensete ventricosum Maurelii and Cordyline Australis

Cannas and dahlias fill out the space in between, along with Ricinus and numerous ferns. Hostas have been thriving under the shade cast by all this foliage.

Ricinus communis, Dahlias and pumpkins create a dense display of foliage and colour

Perhaps one of the most unusual effects has been created by planting pumpkins amongst all this exotica, and leaving them to weave their own course through the border. Their large circular leaves take on a much more tropical feel when seen growing with bananas and tree ferns and this is a great idea for filling out new jungle style borders.

Two shots of Ensete ventricosum Maurelii surrounded by rampant pumpkins!