Is this really New York or are we in the tropics?
Heat-loving plants thrive in a Long Island garden.
(Page 2 of 2)
But the garden soon became more chore than pleasure, and the two often ended up giving the overbounteous results away.Skip to next paragraph
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And despite the fence, there were – inevitably on Long Island – deer.
One day a small herd infiltrated the garden, and when discovered, they calmly walked off – almost single file – but, unfortunately, wearing the fence much like a bridal veil as they receded into the distance.
“That was the end of the vegetable garden,” Schrader says. Instead, “we started putting in (ornamental) gardens.”
The landscaper/designer duo were no strangers to decorative plants. In their past lives, they often were called upon to pot up 150 containers of annuals around, say, an estate’s pool.
“And every year it had to be different,” Schrader says.
“So we did different themes: lush, tropical one year; Mediterranean-style the next; water gardens where we plugged up the holes in the pots and filled them with water and aquatics. One year we did all vegetables in pots; another year, fruit.”
Now this emphasis on tropicals is evident in the landscape they’ve created for themselves as well as in containers.
The thematic approach is divided by hedging – what he calls “barriers your eye would trip over” – with “garden rooms” defined by hornbeam and American beech trees and arctic willow and boxwood shrubs.
But it is another kind of room in the garden that is Schrader’s favorite – a tiki hut decorated in what he smilingly calls the “Asian-Adirondack style.”
“It’s the only place where I can sit and relax a couple hours on Sunday,” he says. “It has great breezes, great views. And it’s a great place to entertain.”
Ten tropical tips
Schrader, the author of “Hot Plants for Cool Climates: Gardening With Tropicals in Temperate Zones ” likes plants with a bold look that make a statement, especially texturally. “I don’t like a lot of fussy, flowery cottage-looking things,” he says.
Here are his three favorite tropical plants for the landscape:
1. Gingers – “especially the super-fragrant ones.”
2. All the elephant ears (Alocasia). “There’s a new one called Stingray that looks exactly like a stingray [fish] with a big round leaf and a tail.”
3. The Siam Ruby banana, with its “nice reddish leaf and yellow markings.”
In containers, he especially recommends:
1. South African rushes – “a real structural plant.”
2. “A lot of the succulents – like kalanchoe, that whole group of plants.”
3. Bromeliads – “I’ve been on a real bromeliad kick lately. There’s so much great breeding lately with great color.”
4. Vines that grow up and through taller plants such as sugar cane.
While researching his latest book, “Extraordinary Leaves” (Firefly), Schrader became especially enamored with the foliage of:
1. Black-leaved cotton.
2. Coleus – “Interest in coleus just does not fade out.”
3. Caladiums – “You know how in Holland a long time back the market in tulip bulbs went so crazy? That’s what’s going on now in Thailand. They’re getting some amazing, amazing leaves – every kind of color – almost black, even some yellow ones.”