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Totally Tropical

Posted by sheiladearing on 24 Aug 2010 at 11:23 AM

Brazil, Mexico, Chile? No…you are in North Devon! The tropical bedding is thriving this year thanks to a warm sunny start to the summer, followed by the usual rainy July. The bitter winter is long forgotten, and seems to have helped control our usual Capsid bug onslaught, which can turn the large lush leaves to lace.

When it comes to the tropical bedding nothing is left to chance. Every year, every plant is either, lifted, potted and kept in the glasshouse at 5 Celcius over winter, or re-propagated by seed or cuttings. In mid-May, within a matter of hours, two bare strips are filled with (mainly) South American beauties.

Canna ‘Roi Humbert’, ‘Striata’ and ‘Brasiliensis’ are planted first, along with Hedychium or ornamental gingers. Then the bigger shrubs go in, Tibouchina urvilleana, with its velvety blue flowers, Brugmansia, Abutilon ‘Lemon Queen’ and Solanum rantoneti.


 A view along the Tropical Border

Dahlia ‘David Howard’ is potted on the nursery in mid February, and is just coming into bud. It is planted along with the Salvia and Plectranthus raised from cuttings rooted last September. Next go in the plants grown from seed every year, Ricinus and Amaranthus. Finally the climbers, Ipomoea lobata and Ecremocarpus scaber are planted to scramble through.

A walk along the border this morning has confirmed that by mid- August the majority of the plants have now grown taller than me (5 foot 2 ½”). Not bad for a few months. The champion at a good 12 foot already is the Dahlia imperialis or Tree Dahlia from Central America. Thick bamboo-looking stems hold typical Dahlia foliage….only it’s massive. We live in hope that the mauve flowers will make an appearance before the frost.

The tropical border border with Ricinus in the foreground, Dahlia Imperialis in the middleground and Canna in the background surrounded by lush tropical planting

The carnival of colour usually lasts until frost cuts the party short in October and the plants vanish as fast as they arrived…until the same time next year.

Kay Tudor


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