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Create the atmosphere of a lush subtropical oasis in your own garden using bold foliage and dazzling hot flower colours.
Wisley Exotic Garden
Unlike a typical English garden, an exotic-style garden doesn't have all-year-round interest, instead peaking in a mass of vegetation in summer. However, careful plant choice can extend the season a little into winter.
The typical characteristics of a subtropical garden scheme are exuberant plant with large leaves, structural forms and striking flower colours. This can be achieved in most garden situations providing the necessary conditions are met (see below).
Some design and planting considerations:
See Exotic and subtropical plants for a widely available range of suitable hardy and tender plants. Many of the cultivars listed have received the RHS Award of Garden Merit (AGM) and can be sourced through the RHS Find a Plant.
Exotic-style gardens can be made up of many plants with different care needs. The proportion of each depends on the available overwintering facilities and the time required for propagating plants and planting out each year.
Pick and mix your scheme from the following plant types;
Follow this seasonal care plan to help make your exotic-style garden a success.
Plants under cover (greenhouse or conservatory)
Regular watering is vital for outdoor plants during dry spells, greenhouse and conservatory plants, and watch out for slugs and snails attacking fresh young growth.
Outdoors most plants are still looking good at this time with lush foliage and plenty of flower but some plants may begin to fade so tidy and remove any dead or dying leaves and flowers.
Plants under cover (greenhouse and conservatory)
Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens, Dorset
Great Dixter House and Gardens, East Sussex, Exotic Garden
Royal Botanical Gardens Kew, Palm House
The Minack Theatre, Porthcurno, Cornwall, The Minack Gardens
Tresco Abbey Gardens, Isle of Scilly
RHS Garden, Wisley, Surrey, The Exotic Garden
Exotic Planting for Adventurous Gardeners by C. Lloyd and friends (BBC Books, ISBN 9780563493198)
Encyclopedia of Exotic Plants for Temperate Climates by Will Giles (Timber Press, ISBN 0881927856)
Exotic Gardening by Ian Cooke (Crowood Press, ISBN 9781847972132)
Tropical Garden Style with Hardy Plants by Alan Hemsley (Guild of Master Craftsman Publications, ISBN 1861082371)
Exotic Gardening in Cool Climates by Miles Challis (Fourth Estate, ISBN 1857021878)
The Flower-Powered Garden by Andy Vernon (Timber Press ISBN 978-1604696660)
These books are made available through RHS Libraries.
Cool conservatory and greenhouse plants
Exotic and subtropical plants
Hardening off tender plants
Pruning for colourful stems or large foliage
Warm conservatory and greenhouse plants
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