If you're looking for a stylish garden this summer, think tropical. The "cat's pajamas" of the gardening world, tropical plants are once again in vogue and all the rage. The tropical look features an abundance of lush, large, colorful and leafy foliage — typical of canna and banana — as well as bright, vibrantly colored flowers with unusual shapes, such as golden shrimp plant and hibiscus. Even if you live in colder climates, you can create dramatic summer landscapes atypical of your region.
To help you achieve the tropical effect in your garden, I offer the following list:
You can achieve the tropical look in your garden by using plants directly planted in your garden or by using them in containers. Pots allow you to spread the tropical feel to your patios, decks and porches and to easily move plants indoors for overwintering. However, for a more dramatic effect, tropicals planted in the garden can't be beat. The large leaf texture and colorful foliage of many tropical plants is quite striking when blended into a traditional flower garden. If you want to save the tropicals planted in your garden, then dig them in the fall prior to frost and plant in containers where they can be overwintered.
For added fun, consider adding a pink flamingo or two to boldly emphasize your tropical look. Rather than sticking these plastic birds in the middle of your lawn, nestle a few together among your garden's foliage and flowers. Flamingos can be especially pleasing when situated with colors that echo theirs. I guarantee that, in addition to your tropical plants, these birds will make your garden a conversation piece!
— Susan Hamilton is an associate professor in the Department of Plant Sciences and Landscape Systems and director of the UT Gardens at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.