About me and how I got interested in beautiful tropical gardens and plants. Hello...my name is Doug. I spent most of my adult life in Atlanta where I spent much of my free time gardening from 1974 to 2001. I volunteered for a while at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens where I learned a lot about plants from that area, as well as tropical plants in their greenhouses. After years of learning about zone 7 plants, I moved to central Florida in 2001 where I had to completely re-learn how to garden in my new zone 9 climate. I brought many of my Atlanta plants with me to Florida, but most of the outdoor plants lasted only a couple years before they faded away. I wasn't sure what I was doing wrong, but I soon learned it wasn't about me. It was because the growing conditions weren't right.
I had to give up on many of my long time favorite plants, but the good news was many of my tender former houseplants could now be planted outside because they were tropical in nature. Not only that, but I soon discovered I had a whole new group of tropical plants and trees to choose from. Most are very lush and exotic, such as the extraordinary lobster claw heliconia and the many beautiful flowering gingers, hibiscus, birds of paradise and their cousin the ornamental banana.
I could no longer grow cold climate spring bulbs such as daffodils and hyacinths, but I soon found the equally beautiful amazon lily and the amazing amaryllis. Instead of hostas, I could now choose from numerous varieties of bromeliads.
One of my favorite bushes in Atlanta was acuba with its interesting spotted leaves. As an even better replacement, I discovered crotons with a much larger range of colors and patterns.
I no longer had to be concerned about running bamboo that once tried to take over my Atlanta front garden, because I soon acquired several types of clumping, well behaved, tropical bamboo to enjoy.
Needless to say I have become quite enamored with tropical and sub-tropical plants while creating my own personal tropical garden. I sometimes wish I'd moved a bit further south so I could have an even larger variety of flowering tropical trees and bushes to play around with. I'm always pushing the envelope a bit to see which fascinating tropical plants I can grow here in Atlantic coastal central Florida. The large chain stores make it easy to experiment by selling plants that don't really belong here.
I once had a conversation with the director of Leu Botanical Gardens, a wonderful tropical garden in Orlando, who told me that much of what they do is experimental to see which tropical plants will grow and survive in that particular area. They've been a great source of inspiration for plant placement in my own garden. For example, I can see from their mature stand of a particular tropical clumping bamboo how much space I must allow for expansion of that species. It's a great tool to use for your own garden design. You can see where the professionals planted their flowering tropical plants for optimum blooms, then you can try to create those same conditions in your own garden.
I highly recommend that you try experimenting with tropical plants, even if just as houseplants in colder climates. Like I did for so many years in Georgia, you can take them outside for the summer so they can get big and healthy, then take them back inside for winter. They are well worth the effort.
OK, enough about me and my garden. Now I want to hear about your tropical garden experience. If you have a website with a similar theme, let me know if you might be interested in exchanging links. You can reach me through the contact page. Thanks for your time.
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