You may long for a lush jungle at your place but before you start buying palm trees and exotic humid- loving foliage, there is a right way to ensure your tropical dream success and ways to get the look while faking it. On the Central Coast we are in a temperate area and while some tropical plants can grow well in various pockets, many of these plants won’t survive or thrive in this cooler climate. A tropical plant is defined as one that is native to the areas around the world between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn.
These plants are used to a temperature that remains above 18c, is humid and frost is unheard of. If you can provide such an environment, indoors or out, then you will end up with happy, healthy tropical plants that will grow to their full potential. Some of these northerners are a little adaptable and while you might not get the best from them, they can grow in temperate areas with a rich soil, increased humidity, and the right light.
Get the Look with Non-Tropical Plants Not every area will accommodate true tropical plants, but you can get the look with a few clever design tricks. Select plants that have darker foliage as this increases the perceived depth of your faux-tropical garden. The darker an area is, the more difficult it is the see where the garden ends. Increase volume by mass planting or grouping together pots of the same plants. This makes the viewer think they are looking at one big plant, not lots of small ones and subconsciously we tend to think of tropical plants as bigger even though that is not always the case.
Placing plants closer together helps but mind that your selection is suited for this as the increase in humidity will be great for real tropical plants but not so good for others. Too much humidity will increase the chance of fungal issues. Vines will also boost the jungle vibe of your tropical paradise and you can try the Australian Natives Wonga Wonga Vine (Pandorea pandoreus) and Bower of Beauty (Pandorea jasminoides).
Add in a few plants that have unusual and bright blossoms, like Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia regina) and any of the Bromeliads as nothing says tropical like these. Use pots that are deep emerald-green to extend the lushness of your tropical garden. Dark earthy colours will work as well. Rustic timber furniture and features will give a wild jungle feeling and you could try adding natural looking water features but instead of fast running fountains opt for slow trickling effects that will mimic the feeling and sounds of the rainforest. Bamboo can give you a tropical look and if you are hesitant about letting this plant into your garden, then try the delightfully jungle-looking and sounding Tiger grass (Thysanolaena maxima). Cordylines in their myriad of colours can also give your garden another layer of texture with their spear-like leaves. The good old Swiss Cheese Plant (Monstera deliciosa) is a temperate area plant that looks like it comes from the hot depths of the jungle but will be incredibly happy in Coast gardens.
YOUR GARDENS: EAST GOSFORD COMMUNITY GARDEN
Sitting on a busy corner in Gosford, it’s easy to zoom by without noticing that this green space is a vibrant community meeting place for locals who are growing herbs, fruits, and vegetables as well as friendships and connections with other initiatives and people across The Coast. Since its beginning in 2017, the garden has become a popular haven for locals and workers who enjoy the opportunity to sit among the trees and gardens created by the volunteers. Saturday mornings are always working bees at the garden, but many volunteers do extra days during the week as well. Everyone is welcome at the garden, whether to work or just to sit and chat and enjoy the morning tea that is provided free. Like all community gardens, no experience is needed, just show up. East Gosford can be visited at any time as it is an open garden but to meet the happy team you will need to pop into a working bee or an event. https://www.facebook.com/East-Gosford-Community-Garden A project of The Rotary Club of East Gosford Community Garden. One of our Rotarians, Vivienne Caroll brought the idea of this project to the Club to get the local community and Rotary working together. GC The gardens can be found within the Newman Memorial Gardens 10 -12 Wells Street East Gosford.
PLANT THIS WEEK
(Temperate gardens mid spring)
This week you can also plant the following: culinary herbs, artichoke suckers, beans, beetroot, blueberry, cabbage, capsicum, carrot, celery, cherry, chicory, chilli, cress, cucumber, eggplant, endive, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, marrow, melons, mustard, okra, spring onions, parsnip, potatoes (tubers), pumpkin, radish, raspberry, rhubarb, rosella, salsify, silverbeet, squashes, strawberry, sweet corn, sweet potato (shoots), tomato, zucchini, ageratum, alyssum, amaranths, aster, begonia (bedding), canna lily, coleus, cosmos, carnation, dianthus, everlasting daisy, gazania, gerbera, gypsophila, geranium, impatiens, marigold, petunias, portulaca, lobelia, love-in-a-mist, lupin, nasturtium, nemesia, sunflowers.
Cheralyn Darcey is a gardening author, community garden educator at swampcentralcoast.com.au and along with Pete Little, hosts ‘At Home with The Gardening Gang’ 8 - 10am live every Saturday on CoastFM963, on air locally or download the app: communityradio.plus Archived articles can be found on Cheralyn’s Blog: www.florasphere.com Send your gardening questions, events, and news to: email@example.com