Exotic Gardens capture UK passions

Thu, Jun 26, 2008

Climate Change Gardening

The Gardeners World Exotic Garden was recently voted the most popular by viewers which confirms that gardeners become hooked once they see what an amazing effect you can create with the bold foliage, exuberant colours and luscious scents of exotic plants.

Will Giles Exotic garden in Norwich opened last weekend and is open all summer transporting visitors to a tropical paradise. The garden of about 1 acre complete with tree house is an immense mix of planting from the ludicrously tender to the dead hardy, all having an exotic appearance in nature.


It is a quite magical place, full of hidden corners and riotous colour where Will experiments with plants from the extremely hardy to the ludicrously tender, endeavouring to find a balance of plants that grow well in his own microclimate and which fit into his idea of a lush sub-tropical setting.

Many of the plants he grows today were considered only viable in the balmy south west of the British Isles a few decades ago. With global warming, the winters in Norfolk are far warmer than they used to be when he was a child, hence many of the more tender plants now grow well, as lows in the garden of less than -5C are rare. Today he has many different species of Palm trees and other exotic plants like the ginger family, which are interspersed with other more hardy but exotic looking species and of course the now popular tree ferns. These are the backdrop to the more tender planting which is carried out by him and his team of intrepid slaves in late spring when the nights have warmed up.

Exotics such as cannas, gingers and colocasias to name only a few grow exceedingly quickly, knitting together and forming an impenetrable jungle of foliage and flower by June when the garden first opens to the public. In high summer, the air is filled with the intoxicating scent of Jasmine, Brugmansia (Angels trumpets) and different varieties of Hedychiums and Alpinias. (Gingers). The ridiculously large leaved Elephants Ear, Colocasia esculenta, ‘Mammoth’ with luscious green leaves 2×3 feet in size on long stems. Towering bananas such as the purple Abyssinian banana Ensete ventricosum ‘Maurelii’, form massive canopies to walk under as do the root hardy banana Musa basjoo.

To help with choosing exotic plants, check out the wonderful book that Will recently publsihed – The Encyclopedia of Exotic Plants for Temperate Plants – which has more of his fantastic photographs.

Buying exotic plants has never been easier with many specialist nurseries located all over the UK. Most of these offer mail order service although I always think its nice to see what you are buying first .Plants are like people with individual characters. I prefer to get to know them before I decide if I want to invite them into my garden.

There is a great nursery not far from The Exotic Garden in Norwich – http://www.urbanjungle.uk.com/

Or visit these for more inspiration and get hooked on this addictive style of gardening.

http://www.easytropicals.com – Cheshire

http://www.hardyexotics.co.uk – Cornwall

http://www.athelasplants.co.uk – East Sussex

http://www.urbantropics.co.uk – Hampstead, London

http://www.ep-d.co.uk – Oxford

http://www.mulu.co.uk/ – Shropshire


This post was written by:

- who has written 872 posts on My Climate Change Garden.

I am not an experienced gardener - more of an enthusiastic amateur who learns by trial and error and who is keen to "manage" the effects of shifting weather patterns on my garden. Writing this blog is my passion and it has evolved over 12 years to inspire engagement with climate change outside our back doors, in our personal gardens and green spaces. My mission is to fertilise and expand this platform to grow a community of global gardeners communicating about the effects of climate change on our plants and exploring how each individual can make small changes in our lives to become more sustainable. The future of our gardens and #OurPlanet is in our hands - please plant your own seeds for our collective sustainable future.

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1 Comments For This Post

  1. Sylvia Says:

    Lovely pictures. As you say tropical plants are more widely available now but the only think we can be sure of is our weather is going to continue to be unpredictable!

    Best wishes Sylvia (Dorset)