Self-proclaimed landscape designer Julianne Moore charmed us with her quircky expressions and quintessential landscaping outfit in “The Kids Are Alright.” Her indulgent newfound passion was terribly entertaining as she described her vision to her newest client. Moore felt that “more was more” and opted for a “lush and fecund” garden overgrown like a tropical paradise.
Maybe she was channeling her tropical landscape experience from The Lost World (yes I was surprised to remember she was in Jurassic Park 2). Though NYC is in stark contrast to southern California where the little Jade plants we buy in 3″ containers grow into hedges, we can still incorporate a piece of lush paradise into our gardens.
Think of “house plants” as seasonal annuals for outdoors. They offer so much diversity in foliage texture and colors that can kick you landscape up a few notches. With the humudity we get here in NYC during the summer months, tropical plants thrive as long as they have the correct sun/wind exposure. Some of my favorite tropical plants to use in the garden include:
1. Ricinus communis (Castor Bean) I love the size and feel of the palmate leaves. By late summer the plant can grow to over 6′ tall and produces spiny seed pods with a bright red color. It makes quite an impact in the landscape. The seeds of this plant are poisonous and children should be educated about this.
2. Colocasia esculenta (Elephant’s Ear) You can’t go wrong with this one. It is so forgiving and easy to grow. It likes moist soil and can even be grown as an aquatic plant. Don’t let it dry out.
3. Amorphophallus bulbifer (Voodoo Lily) This unusual plant has a long skinny trunk with white and green spots all over it and a canopy of deep green leaves at the top. Few plants have this kind of form so make it a focal point in the landscape. Read more about the life cycle of this plant here: http://www.rareflora.com/amorphophallusbul.htm