Friday, February 12, 2010

Ideas needed please!

Rainforest gardener put out a few photos of an area at his folks place that he was going to make into a balinese themed garden.  He got some wonderful ideas and made a beautiful garden, so I want to copy his idea.  There are so many wonderfully talented gardeners out there (and some of them actually read MY blog) and I would like to get some input about what to do with my garden.
a short history: we moved into our new home 14 months ago and there was a huge lychee tree and not much else.  Our idea was to create a screen of tropical plants in the triangular area under the lychee tree and along the back fence. I had accumulated a lot of plants in pots and so cleared the area and planted everything, keeping to the loose plan of higher plants at the back and lower plants in front.  I also tried to place plants that needed more shade in the shady area and vice versa. 
this is the area to the right, which I am very happy with:

My problem now is that the area to the right of the tree (which gets more sun) is more colourful and prettier than the area to the left (which is almost full shade most of the day).  I have cut back the branches of the tree which is allowing more light into that area, and I notice has decreased the amount of bugs.
this is the area to the left:

And in more detail close up:

So, a couple of questions: 
 I love the little path into the garden on the right - would it look silly to put the same thing on the other side? Or maybe continue the path behind the tree, so you could walk all the way around?  Should I put a small path leading to a "bright coloured feature" like a pot? Do I need more plants with light coloured leaves to add some depth?  I do have some, but they are not that big yet.
I put cordelines in the left area, hoping they would add some colour, but they seem to get lost, and the colour is not that bright. I have noticed that cordelines are not actually any brighter colour in the sun, and we have some out in the direct sun and they are the same, so it must be something in the soil that makes them brighter and lighter in some areas.  I also have heleconias in theat area and they have not flowered - maybe they need more light?  I am hoping that opening up the branches above will achieve that. I have seen them flowering in areas of quite low light.  The tree fern will fast grow into quite a tall tree and touch the above branches and to the left are two fan palms which will also grow quite tall. 
I am looking for something that will "draw" you deeper into that area, and feel at the moment it just looks "flat"
Oh and one more question - does anyone have the same problem that I have with some of my photos (taken in the shade) that they have a pinkish tinge?  I do have a very old camera (only 3.5pixels) but plans to buy a new one in June so am trying to fine tune what I am looking for in a camera.
So, here I am starting the weekend with lots of questions, hope you all have exiting plans for the weekend!


  1. Your yard looks great. I can only dream of your plants. jim

  2. I would suggest Trachelospermum jasminoides 'Tricolour'. It's a lovely cultivar that grows as a low mounding bush and provides some colour in shady areas - especially the new growth which is pink!

    What about begonias ... try the Dragon Wing begonias ... they grow quite tall and have a great spread and flower all year round ... the red would look great.

    Try correas ... Correa 'Dusky Bells' or Correa baeuerlenii or glabra (which attracts the birds).

    Coleus is another suggestion ... there are so many great foliage colours now and they're so easy to grow ... and clivias ... always great for shady areas.

    Your heliconias should flower very well in the shade ... they can take up to 40% shade

  3. I think it looks really nice. My only thought is that you need a bit of color...the "pop" you're talking about. You have burgandy...I'd personally go for something bright yellow...that always adds light to a darker space. Bright light pinks would go well also...would match the burgandy. It's hard to tell if you have any Ti plants...I think I see some, but they look like the darker version. Perhaps add some lighter pink/fuschia color.

    Another idea is to go with a decoration of some sort...perhaps a pretty bird house or bird feeder. Or an abstract piece of art or wind chime. You could even add an orb or bird bath for some extra interest...or a small bistro set with a pretty flower planter. I guess I'm saying that your issue may not be the garden itself, because it looks very pretty and lush in the photos. A small decoration could go a long way in adding some interest.
    Good luck! Let us know what you decide!

  4. I love seeing pictures of your garden, and hope that someday mine will look as lush as yours!
    As far as a plant for brightening up the area, you might try some chartreuse colored plants. There are varieties of xanthosoma and colocasia elephant ears like "lime zinger" that would pop, limelight dracaena takes as much shade as you give it and glows, and you might try variegated shell ginger or chartreuse pothos. I also use the chartreuse sweet potato vine for groundcover. The great thing about this lemony green color is that it brightens up everything and works great with that burgundy/purple found in so many cordylines, bananas, etc.
    If you want a path to lead to something, try a place to sit like a stool or bench. Its the perfect way to lure someone out into the garden!

  5. I like your idea of a path going behind the tree. Garden paths are always an inviting feature. For color in the back to draw you in, I think a variegated arboricola or (as Rainforest Gardener suggested) variegated shell ginger would be great. They'll grow in sun or shade equally well. Bernie's idea for coleus is excellent. For low color in the front some variegated Neoregelias tucked in front of the tree fern or replacing some of the oyster plant will really make the area pop!

  6. Thanks for all your advice, lots of great ideas there. I do agree that yellow seems to "pop" out more than other colours. I have salivated for a clivia, and yes I think it would go well in that area, but they are quite exy (aussie term!). Kimberley, those are ti plants, but when I plant a pale coloured one it turns dark in my garden - cant figure it out - it must be something in the soil! I do have variegated shell ginger under that tree fern, just not visible from this angle! Those heleconias (if they ever flower) are a plain yellow too, so maybe I just need to give it all a bit of time. It is definitely looking a lot brighter since I trimmed back the overhanging tree branches.

  7. Pink tinge on camera, check your settings, we had a day when the camera made EVERYTHING black and white, with a pink cast. Your anonymous on your side bar is actually written by Dorothy Francis Gurney.
    And thank you for following my blog, I do appreciate it!

  8. aloha,

    look at this, everyone wants to be a designer now, i guess it must be all those hgtv specials that we all hope to be superstars in...lots of good suggestions might i offer some of my own? a bright chartruse coleus in various areas would do wonders in your shade along with other coleus variegated combinations and also get those yellow clivias, they are amazing flowers. also begonias love shade and filtered areas so i would stick with a color that works with the chartruse...i also like the idea of a pathway to the back so you can do a nice meditation walk around this part of your garden, ad some garden art or statuary or a small sitting bench in the shady areas.

    looking foward to seeing your final choices and the future unveiling!

  9. Thanks elephant eye for that info - I will change that. My camera only does it where there is lots of mulch - seems to pick up the pink from that.
    thanks Noel, I just moved a few potted begonias onto the fence over the weekend, but will be looking for something yellow when we go into town next weekend. I looked at a path, but not sure I have the room!


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