Antoni Swidlicki is a content creator at Plants and Trees Online UK. They supply the UK with a wide variety of plants and trees, including exotics, bonsai and conifers.
Over the last few years, there’s been a real explosion in the popularity of exotic plants – succulents, bamboo, palms and chaenomeles to name but a few types. In some ways, it’s easy to see why. They add a touch of the spectacular to your garden, coming as they do from a completely different environment to the rainy English garden and are a guaranteed great conversation piece. Contrary to what you might think, however, certain varieties are remarkably hardy and require very little attention. Below we’ll introduce you to some of the most celebrated exotic species.Vertical Succulent Garden, via Ewa in the Garden
Succulents: Succulents are some of the most successfully adapted plant species on the planet. They originated in arid conditions, such as the desert, where not much else grows. The fleshy tissue in their leaves, roots and stems is full of water storing tissue – think of them as the camels of the plant world. Succulents’ roots are typically shallow, since in the desert there is no real need for plants to have deep roots. For these reasons, succulents are incredibly easy to grow almost anywhere you can imagine; indoors, outdoors, in a teacup, in a hollowed-out book. They have even been known to have been crafted into “living jewellery” and table arrangements because of their versatility and malleability. They can grow very comfortably in a vertical garden and are great for filling in any gaps in your garden and also for a “green roof,” as they are so low maintenance in addition to soaking up a ton of greenhouse gasses. Because of their shallow roots, they are an ideal choice for a square foot or patio garden. Succulents contain great variety: they come in all shapes and colours with most of them evergreen, from the Sempervivum soboliferum to the more commonplace Aloe Vera.
Sempervivum soboliferum by Ruta Kucinskaite on Flickr
Bamboo: Bamboo is instantly recognizable with its woody, hollow stem. Bamboo is low maintenance and is one of the fastest growing plants in the whole world, making it a safe choice for the unadventurous gardener. Generally speaking, it is easy to see when a bamboo is need of attention and caring for it is a simple task. The bamboo is a good choice if you want to create a dense, evergreen barrier in your garden against wind, noise or visibility. There is something undeniably charming about bamboo, whether it’s the gentle popping noise it sometimes makes as it grows or its straight upwards growth and lush colour. Bamboo is a great substitute for hedges in your garden, whether you want the black Phyllostachys Nigra variety, or the golden Phyllostachys Aurea.
Palms: Think of palm trees and you think of exotic locations. There are, however, several varieties of palms which will grow outdoors in England, as well as indoors, whilst retaining their characteristic exotic form, scent and shape. Some are little more than shrubs, whereas others have fully formed trunks. From the purple colour of the Cordyline Australis Atropurpurea to the blue Camaerops Humilis Cerifera, no two palms are the same. Broadly speaking, palms are recognisable by their sharp, plume-like leaves, which make them stand out in any garden, lending it an air of undeniable exoticism. There are several species with low trunks, creating a similarly enchanting effect to a weeping willow as the leaves branch downwards, such as the Dasylirion Longissimum.
Chaenomeles: Chaenomeles are flowering shrubs related to the quince from East Asia. Highly prized by gardeners worldwide for their exquisite flowers, they manage to look both dainty and threatening on account of their spiny branches. If you’re in the market for an exotic flowering shrub, choose a Chaenomeles. The majority bear red flowers, although the Speciola Nevalis bears white flowers.
Chaenomeles Superba Hollandia