So reporting back on the Townsville trip where I had nervously wondered what I was going to see after a few years break from a garden that I had really enjoyed working with. The photo says it all. The garden owner has kept faithfully to the original planting scheme and followed every instruction given about pruning, feeding, mulching and it was wonderful to see that most of the plants were thriving. She is now a marvelous gardener. The big lesson was that tropical gardens are a lot of work to keep them looking this good. To get the effect of the strongly contrasting textures and colours of foliage and flowers the plants are far more densely packed in and you need to be very confident with your original colour choices to get things blending and contrasting in an orderly way.
There have been unexpected failures of some things like a few varieties of dwarf cordylines and great successes with varieties that I didn’t expect to survive. It was a big learning curve for me and made me realise that one thing that I need to point out to anyone who wants this style of garden is that I can design and help you plant a garden that looks fabulous when it first goes in, but it will be the attention and care given to it over the years that will make it into a great garden for years to come. As one of my owners once said when I designed their garden a few years ago – “A plan can only give you the bones and the structure of the garden. It is what you do to it once you start looking after it yourself that determines whether it will continue to be successful”. So thank you to all the wonderful owner-gardeners who take over these projects. It’s also lovely to go back and be able to add new ideas and improve the garden. I’d suggest that revisiting gardens from time to time is one of the most worthwhile things I do. It’s certainly a very rewarding experience for me.
We still managed to find space to add several new planting areas and to start work on creating a new focal point through the planting and palms beyond. Growth of the shrubs and plants has created a whole new area for more understorey planting. A really great weekend….