Sub-Tropical Paradise garden
Cornish paradise concept created in Fowey. Designed by replicating natural rain forests and using the Permaculture principle of forest gardening. This method was chosen to create a 'jungly' atheistic and also reduce maintenance, as plants will essentially beleft to do their own thing after planting. Feature plants include; Musa basjoo and Cordyline australis but the scheme also includes the native and pollinator loving; Helleborus foetidus, for winter interest.
Fowey in Bloom, 2019, second place winner!
The brief was to design and create a new planting scheme to compliment the setting and new hard landscaping. The garden has a fantastic view of the river Fowey (see top) and had contemporary granite paving recently laid. As well as plans for a glass balustrade along the East side.
-South-East facing, the site contains both full sun and partial shade areas.
-Soil PH was 7.5 and was clay.
-Set in Fowey, the site is semi coastal, adjacent to the estuary near the South coast.
The design is inspired by garden around Cornwall such as; The Lost Gardens Of Heligan, St. Michaels Mount and Eden Project and adopts a sub-tropical theme. I wanted to embrace the best of Cornwall and create a mini-paradise for the clients to enjoy when they come to stay, whilst simultaneously embracing the Cornish climate and planting. I noted the hard landscaping details already implemented on site, such as; granite and slate and acknowledged the effectiveness of these materials when contrasting with sub-tropical planting.
Forest gardening meets sub tropical?
Plant selection and quantities have been selected to replicate the proportions in natural woodlands, including canopy plants, mid-size plants and a lower layer. Inspired by Martin Crawfords principle of'Forest Gardening' outlined in the Agroforestry research trust. Designing in this way reduces maintenance by copying nature and allowing the planting to do its thing and also facilitates the ‘Jungle’ aesthetic contextually appropriate for sub-tropical gardens. The plants have been arranged in ‘natural’ same species groupings will some specimens standing alone. Plants have been arranged fairly un-uniformed with some repetition in specific species. Seasonal interest and colour has been distributed evenly as well as height, the latter been applied predominantly to the back of the bed to aid in privacy from the neighbour’s garden and to not obstruct the smaller plants.
A Photoshop elevation was created to give insight into the composition and to help the designer select plants, quantities and positions.
Above: Photoshop elevation created during the design process.
Below: The garden in Autumn note the beautiful contrast in blue/green and reds.
The addition of flowering plants such as; Kniphofia rooperi, Canna 'President' and Cautleya spicata provide flowers throughout the spring and summer. Helleborus foetidus, native hellabore and RHS perfect for pollinators plant provides nectar for bees in winter. Melianthus major provides flowers in spring. The bed is well mulched and 'Chop and drop' method is used for mulching. This provides habitats for beetles and other invertebrates.
Left: The garden in winter, note the flowers from Helleborus foetidus. The Hellabores become stars of the garden during winter when plats such as; Cannas and Musa basjoo are in dormancy.
The clients had two blue ceramic planters they wanted to use and have placed on the patio adjacent the sub tropical paradise planting. The clients asked me for suggestions and I recommended a selection of hardy colourful succulents. I felt that these plants would be a good addition to the garden and be contextually appropriate for the exotic feel of the garden.
Below: Pot planting
On the East side of the planting the clients planned to install a glass balustrade. The balustrade would act as a barrier to a steep drop below, however around 1ft below the level of the balustrade there was also a small terrace which contained soil. (see left.) The clients wanted some ground cover planting to compliment the balustrade. I knew that once the balustrade was in place access would be extremely difficult and weeding near impossible. I knew we had to plant something vigorous that would out-compete weeds but also planting that would compliment the sub tropical planting, and the balustrade itself. I selected Equisetum hyemale, extremely vigerous and attractive the Equisetum provides ground cover and aesthetic benefits.
The primary role of the selected plants is to provide an exotic, tropical appearance whilst having minimal maintenance requirements. Many of the plants selected have been identified by the RHS as “hardy plants used to create an exotic theme” (Such as; Cordyline australis, Musa basjoo and Canna 'Lucifer') Other plants featured have been identified by Will Giles in ‘Exotic plants for temperate climates’, and ‘How to plant a garden’ by Matt James as appropriate for sub-tropical gardens, such as; Tetrapanax papyrifer ’Rex’. The schemes main body of planting uses Musa basjoo and Tetrapanax papyrifer ‘Rex’ chosen to adhere to Angus Whites sub-tropical principle of “Big Leafism” outlined in Architectural Plants. Hot, summer-interest colour is provided through Kniphofia northiae, Canna ‘Lucifer’ and Cautleya spicata. The plants selected contain a range of textures and forms; with spikey Cordyline austrails, contrasting with soft broad leaves of Musa basjoo, chosen to mimic a wild, un-manicured exotic jungle. Care has been taken for the design to retain interest through the winter months with several evergreen plants being incorporated into the design, such as; Fargesia , and Kniphofia northiae. Exotic-looking but winter flowering Helleborus foetidus has also been included. The plants provided can essentially be left alone after planting, reducing required maintenance whilst adding to the wild, tropical appearance of the scheme. The vast majority of the plants selected are evergreen to retain interest throughout the year, with the addition of some herbaceous perennials such as; Lupinus ‘Polar Princess’ and Canna ‘Lucifer’. The site is SE facing and has sandy clay substrate with a PH of 7.5, is exposed and vulnerable to coastal winds, plants have been selected to be tolerant of these conditions. The designer has also chosen species he has seen first-hand thriving in Cornish gardens.
Above: Completed planting plan for the garden
"We have known Zac for 2 years. He is our gardener & garden designer at our property in Fowey.
Along with the weekly maintenance of our garden, Zac single handily designed very specific and different planting plans for 2 of our large flower beds. He was also responsible for implementing his design plans, both in terms of ordering the plants and subsequent planting. We have been delighted with the results.
Zac always pays careful attention to what he does. His design specifications are very thorough and thoughtful. Zac is very conscientious and honest, always checking that we are happy with his work and coming up with suggestions. He works very tidily, he turns up when he says he will and invoices precisely. We have found him to be extremely trustworthy.
Zac has spent the past year successfully building up his own business “Gardens of Eden”. We have recommended Zac several times and would not hesitate to recommend Zac again either as a garden designer or for general garden maintenance work."
Celia & Julian Allbut