More tropicalismo, Bay Area style

bahia(SF Bay Area)December 17, 2011

Another shot of a garden here in the Berkeley hills, which is a very favored banana belt location will very little winter winds because of the surrounding forest of live oaks and redwood trees. This allowed me to plant things like Heliconia schiedeana and retain nearly perfect unblemished foliage all year round, as well as have 8 foot tall flowering Salvia splendens 'Van Houttei' in bloom 12 months of the year. In fact, all plants shown in this photo are easily hardy to at least zone 9a locations with some occasional freeze back, so are in no danger of winter cold here.

One of the joys of creating tropicalismo gardens here is that they can look just as good in the winter as they do in summer, without all those bare spots are wrapping and tenting for winter protection. The one negative is that I've never been successful with any plants that need consistent summer heat to grow. We seldom get much above 75 to 78F all summer long, and many days may only get into the high 60'sF, with 55F temps at night. It is more akin to gardening in a high elevation cloud forest climate, so I look to use a lot of high elevation cloud forest plants.

Here is a link that might be useful: A jacuzzi set within a jungle

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Can you grow Kentia palms there?

    Bookmark   December 24, 2011 at 5:14PM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

Easily, but when we dip below about 29F they should get some protection, or the foliage will burn badly and they can take up to 3 years to look great again. Probably best here only in USDA zone 10a locations to be worry free, because they can be killed at 25F conditions, which we occasionally get every 20 to 30 years. That's why you only see really large/older ones in the mildest places right next to the SF Bay, San Francisco, or on the coast. If they are planted in a sheltered courtyard or under evergreen tree canopy, they are safer to use unprotected. I don't use Kentia's as much in garden designs anymore, because they are so slow to recover if they get frozen. Archontophoenix cunninghamiana or Rhopalostylis bauriei/sapida/cheeseamannii are much faster to recover and similar hardiness here locally.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2012 at 4:00PM
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