Tuesday, January 11, 2011

How we got into Exotic Gardening

We are often asked how we got into gardening and exotic gardening in particular, so here a little insight on how we did....

Gaz's story
From an early age I was interested in plants and gardens, heavily influenced by my Dad and grandparents who were keen gardeners.

An often repeated story within the family recalls my mother having to apologise to the neighbours when as a toddler I had picked all their flowers (within reach) and planted them in my sandpit, this is usually followed up by a similar story of me picking all of the runner bean flowers in my fathers vegetable plot.

I had my own section in the garden from quite a young age and were given plants by neighbours and family, or bought plants at school or church fates. By my early teens I had taken control of pretty much all of the garden at home, although at this time the garden was a typical English garden with a mix of evergreens, herbaceous perennials and flowering shrubs. Many of the plants were still being given by friends, family and neighbours.

In 2002 before I had met Mark I purchased my first home, which had a very small back garden (12'x30'), which contained no plants at all, just a plain lawn and a small patio. A selection of quick growing shrubs were added to give some interest whilst I concentrated on decorating the house. By the following year with more time available to spend on the garden a small number of more exotic plants were added, I was given a bamboo (Fargesia murielae) and added a selection of cordylines, acers and a palm (Phoenix canariensis) in a pot.

Late in 2004 I purchased a discounted copy of Courtyard and Terrace Gardens by Joan Clifton for the princely sum of £1. I would well recommend obtaining a copy of this book, especially if you have a fairly small plot to create a garden in. One particular garden was an exotic courtyard, which had used bananas (Musa basjoo), various bamboos, cordylines, Trachycarpus fortuneii and other plants with an exotic theme.

Mark's story
Well I did originally come from an exotic location, surrounded by lush, tropical plants with huge leaves and brightly coloured flowers. Growing up, I wasn't into horticulture as such, but my parents were, and they own a beautiful tropical farm as a testament to their love of plants

In 2005 I got hold of the book Architectural Plants by Christine Shaw, and I was instantly in love with the plants featured in there, which are largely exotics. I just think they are stunning and sexy plants and some of them instantly reminded me of the plants that surrounded me in my childhood. I was hooked and I never looked back.

Our Joint story
Our first garden was very small, and although more common exotics were gradually incorporated we felt a bigger garden (and house) would be needed to further pursue our interest.

The idea of having a bigger space to play with was too much to resist so in February 2005 we began our search for a house with a much bigger garden, found one that was perfect for our needs and moved in April 2005. And as they say the rest is history.


  1. Hi Mark and Gaz, I to have a exotic garden , my cordylines have be devastated in this bad weather ,and ive seen this every where you look ,there quite tall 12ft and 14ft can I cut the trunk quite high up as i dont want to lose the height when should I do it and should I put a fungi side on the cut stem thanks carol

  2. Hurrah! it just goes to show what a £1 book can do!

  3. Hi Carol, we lost most of our Cordylines too which is a shame as some are quite tall already.

    Have a feel of the trunk and if it is still firm you can cut it quite high up and it will send side shoots around that area. You can cut them back now but there's no guarantee rot won't set in and travel down even with fungicide spray, but there's a reasonable success rate. At the worse it will at least send shoots much lower down and from the ground, but it's like starting all over again.

    Cross fingers they'll recover and won't lose much height!

    Clive, some of the best things in life do begin from bargains :)

  4. So great that you were able to pursue your dream! and even more that you got somebody to share it with

  5. how fun to learn about your backgrounds and how you got so interested in gardening. i love when bloggers open up and get personal!!

  6. Thank you guys! My pleasure to share :)


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