For Mother’s Day I gave my mother one of those cards that have a pop-up scene and plays music when opened. The pop-up scene was palm trees, Hibiscus flowers, and two lounge chairs supposedly looking out across the ocean as it played a Caribbean Calypso tune.
It made me think how easy it is to add a tropical flare to your garden. Surprisingly there are many tropical plants that will do well in our hot humid mid-west summers. I often joke that I turn my small city garden near the center of a small town into my own personal tropical island!
Hardy ferns and the colorful foliage of Hosta give the look and feeling of a rain forest. The huge dinner plate size hardy Hibiscus are almost as dramatic as the tropical versions. The flamboyant Rose of Sharon shrubs loaded down with hundreds of blooms adds to the tropical feel. Perennials like the spotted Japanese Toad Lily and the cold hardy exotic Passion Flower add to the illusion of a tropical paradise.
Annual vines like the Cypress vine, with its fern like leaves and small intensely red blossoms, sweet potato vines, and Mandevilla vines will make you swear you just walked off a cruise ship onto a Caribbean Island.
Your tropical get-away isn’t complete without the huge leaves of various types of elephant ears. Some of these plants produce leaves larger than a person from a single bulb. Canna plants are a must too, with large green or variegated leaves and clusters of large colorful flowers growing above the foliage on tall stems. I always add a banana plant or two and by mid-summer these plants can reach an impressive size. I always buy a potted palm or two to add to my secret isle!
Your personal tropical paradise must have the wildly colored leaves of Caladiums and Coleus. Both are shade lovers and brightened up the darkest corners. Don’t forget begonias, especially the larger ever-blooming varieties like the Dragon Wing Begonia and a newer variety of golden leafed Begonia with red flowers called Canary Wings!
A hammock and a water feature are the icing on the cake! Swing in your hammock with a tall glass of ice tea, play some Calypso music and feel the soft ocean breezes scented with sweet tropical flowers wash away the stress of your day!
Image by GLady