Weeks of dull weather have been blasted away by strong solar rays.  I can’t resist sharing the vacation vibe with you all by paying a visit to the tropical beds.  Many of these plants are hardy or need minimum protection so I use the term ‘tropical’ here to describe an impression of an exotic planting collection.

Stunning red hot pokers
Kniphofia alcazar

These are star of the show at the moment – towering spires, some a metre and a half tall, burning in the sunshine and still glowing come twilight.  I will be forever grateful to the gardeners of the Savill Garden for planting these en masse and bothering to label them as Kniphofia ‘Alcazar’ so that I knew what to buy to reproduce the effect at home. They are interplanted with a glorious single dahlia in burnt orange called ‘Bishop of Oxford’, the first of which flowered this week.

Dahlia ‘Orange Pekoe’Dahlia Orange Pekoe

This is a stunning dahlia, a large meaty flower the colour of a Solero ice cream.  It was the only dahlia bought from new this year and having been forced in the greenhouse is a couple of weeks ahead of those that were overwintered in the ground under a thick layer of mulch.

Begonia bowlBegonia for container

Sometimes the best way to create impact with a container is to forget variety and go all in with a single flower.  These begonias were bought unnamed from my local farm shop and look amazing against the red hot poker background.  I couldn’t have imagined a better result.

Calla liliesCalla lily

I used to grow these in pots in the greenhouse but they more than hold their own near the front of these tropical beds.  The speckled lance shaped leaves are interesting enough but this week the gorgeous cornucopia cup flowers have opened up in tartrazine orange.  These were left in the ground and managed to survive the winter just fine.

Taro Plants – Colocasia esculentaColocasia esculenta

These were overwintered in pots of dryish compost in the greenhouse.  They are now producing enormous fresh green leaves.  The roots are edible but I am unwilling to sacrifice any to see what they taste like.  This plant will give a jungle like atmosphere to any garden and would, I think, look amazing in a pot, if kept well watered.

Eryngium agavifoliumEryngium agavifolium

This plant has fabulous spiky leaves which, as suggested by the name, have the appearance of an agave.  The tall flowers are impressive but if you look at the picture below, the silvery white flowers don’t really pack much punch when viewed alongside the oranges of the Kniphofia and dahlias. I can imagine that some might even cut the flowers off to focus on the leaves.  However, they are very popular with bees and hoverflies so I will leave them be.

Eryngium agavifolium

Tetrapanax papyrifer rexTetrapanax papyrifer rex

These grow ever stronger in this sheltered corner by the wall.  I did fleece them for the winter and whilst they would theoretically survive without protection, I think it helped the plant to bounce back quickly. Some of these huge leaves are 90cm in diameter.


This seasonal diary is part of a weekly link-up of garden bloggers from around the world, called Six on Saturday.  For more information and links to other blogs crammed with gardening activity, check the blog of host The Propagator.