Return to the Garden Restoration Forum | Post a Follow-Up

 o
Tropical overhaul

Posted by Reep z10 SoCal (My Page) on
Thu, Jan 29, 04 at 17:08

We bought a house a couple years ago and I am now ready to remake the back yard in my own image. I am a novice at this so I would appreciate all suggestions. Even though I am a novice, I am very picky about aesthetics, so I can't get myself to turn this over to a local designer and just live with it. I like tropicals, but wouldn't mind blending in others if they keep with the overall theme.

The back yard is 65 wide by 25 deep, on the east side of the house. The yard is level, but on a hill side so it gets massive sun from early morning until mid afternoon when the house creates shadows. We are zone 10a and get high winds on occaision. The back of the yard has a 4.5' green iron fence with houses below the top of the fence. There is a 180 degree two story view of mountains that I would like to frame with the landscaping. I would like to have my feature trees split the view so that from the ground level you see under them and the top level you see over them.

I was planning on puting a row of queen palms (8'-10' spacing) along a 4' planting bed that runs the full length of the back. There will be a built in spa in the middle of the back with two 5' elevated (1.5') planters on either side of the spa, seperated by 17' (center to center). I would like to put two dramatic trees in the planters that overhang the spa and provide shade in the summer. I would also like to fill in the rest of the planter bed between and around the palms. The house side of the yard has a large empty wall where I plan to plant various bananas and a couple giant bird of paradise.

Here are my main needs:

Feature trees for the planters:
(my thoughts agonis flexuosa, cassia leptophylla, I prefer relatively short, but wide spread trees. Flowering is nice and evergreen is nice. I would like to have my feature trees split the view so that from the ground level you see under them and the top level you see over them.)

Planting between/around palms
(my thoughts: bird of paradise . . . ? I would like to block the view of the fence (4.5') with plantings)

That is a lot of information, but I would really value your exerience.

Thanks in advance.

Reep


Follow-Up Postings:

 o
RE: Tropical overhaul

  • Posted by mjsee Zone 7, NC (My Page) on
    Thu, Jan 29, 04 at 17:31

Spectre--Venezuela--you are UP! (That's a baseball reference V--as in "up at bat.")

melanie


 o
RE: Tropical overhaul

  • Posted by spectre z10 Sunset 24CA (My Page) on
    Thu, Jan 29, 04 at 18:05

Hello All:

I suggested Reep post here because this is definitely a garden redesign. Now I know most of you are unfamiliar with the tropical plants themselves (that's where Venezuela, Jambu, and I can come in), but I know most of you have a good eye for restoration and design and though the plants may be different, the underlying concepts are not.

So, I'm going to post a snippet of what I told Reep earlier on Tropicals (use Google if you're unfamiliar with the plants) and let's help Reep design the paradise of his dreams. If you have suggestions as to general plant types, the tropicos among us can translate.

First, if you have a spa, mimosa, as much as I like it, is probably not the best choice because (after my initial vent) it does drop a fair amount of material. If there was no water, that would be different. As you pointed out in the other thread, mimosas are also bare for a long time compared with other flowering trees, so if you want something that holds it's leaves longer, go with the Cassia leptophylla. Though its a matter of opinion, Agonis flexuosa is not anywhere as tropical as other two trees, being more suitable for a pure Mediterranean style or dry garden.

Other smaller flowering trees you may want to consider include Bauhinia x blakeana and Tabebuia impetiginosa.

Smallish evergreen (and root friendly) trees to consider that will give you nice leaves while your flowering tree is bare is tupidanthus Schefflera pueckleri, Ficus roxburghii (auriculata), Ficus lyrata, or Mertya sinclairii. These stay smaller (thus acting as understory), tolerate shade, and keep their leaves year-round.

If you want further redesign help, post on the Garden Restoration forum where myself, Venezuela (Chris) and other garden design enthusiasts from all over the country can help with your actual layout, though Chris and I (because of tropical plant knowledge) will help with the tropical recommendations. Of course, our fellow Jungle Clones here are a treasure trove of knowledge on tropical gardening and can help you tremendously.

Reep, I don't have time now, but I'll draw up what I think you're telling us, post it by tomorrow, and have people help us out. Further, Scott and Cady, with their extensive Japanese garden design experience, probably have much to contribute because there are similarities between the two styles.

I feel like the first time the Ghostbusters got a call.

spectre


 o
RE: Tropical overhaul

  • Posted by Catkim z10 Sunset 24 (My Page) on
    Thu, Jan 29, 04 at 18:13

If you are particular about aesthetics, you might not be thrilled with your queen palms. In my opinion, they look a little shaggy, and aren't the most elegant. With fertilizer and water, they grow quickly to 60 feet, don't know if that's what you had in mind. In your zone, you have other options, but I'm not the person to name them. Select your trees to overhang the spa with falling debris in mind. Again, I'm not the person to name them. Sounds like a wonderful plan. Oh, how 'bout a pyrostegia vine to go with the BOP to hide the fence?


 o
RE: Tropical overhaul

  • Posted by spectre z10 Sunset 24CA (My Page) on
    Thu, Jan 29, 04 at 18:22

Reep:

After rereading your post, I have a few more questions. can you give us an idea of the shape, size, and seating arrangements of the spa you're building?

Further, you say you're open to non-tropical plants as long as it goes with the "style." What is the effect you're trying to achieve? California subtropical? Hawaiian, Balinese? Do you want to feel like you're walking into a resort in your yard or something else? Will the whole yard revolve around the spa or do you need an area for kids, etc? And lastly, where are the doors and windows (in width across the 65') located?

Keep in mind that we can only give you ideas and suggestions because we are all remote.

spectre


 o
RE: Tropical overhaul

Reep, it would help me if I could know in what town you live. It may help me envision the mountains you are looking at among other things. I grew up in Sothern Cal so kind of remember where places are, and my Sunset garden book is still with me to clue me in as to your climate and thus the plant possibilities. Right off, you sound like you want something exuberant and lush. Do you want the tropical look and feel? If so, what IS the tropical look and feel to YOU. Give us a clue to how you feel about this. I guess tropical could be made into a "formal" type of garden but at least to me it is more organic in line, more wild, loud, and bold. Somehow the spa right in the middle of the back yard width with two identical planters to either side sounds more formal. Also the 4 queen palms equally spaced sounds the same. For a more natural look massing the palms in unequal groups might give you more of the tropical look. Keep the information flowing----------------chris


 o
RE: Tropical overhaul

  • Posted by bahia SF Bay Area (My Page) on
    Thu, Jan 29, 04 at 20:14

It really sounds like the wind factor needs to be considered in your tree/shrub choices as well. Although Tupidanthus will stand up to some wind, Mertya leaves will not, as just one example. Falling leaves of a Mimosa is probably a poor choice over an uncovered spa. The Tabebuia may work well, but again, the delicate flowers don't last nearly as long in very windy locals. I would also agree that Queen palms lined up along the fence line looks out of place, and the idea to group palms in clusters with some individuals would give a softer look. Lots of other palm choices in southern California, and perhaps Butias or Braheas might also work well; they both certainly stand up to winds better. Not necessarily tropical, but large leafed and easily pruned to give under and over views might be the Bronze Loquat Tree/Eriobotrya deflexa. I like the reddish/bronze new foliage. Coral trees/Erythrinas might also work for you, and even when bare, they are incredibly sculptural and mostly winter blooming. Under story plantings that would screen the fence could certainly include the Strelitzias, along with lush Agaves such as A. attenuata or A. bracteosa, Aeoniums, Aloes etc for more of a succulent tropical look. Some of the shorter tree aloes such as A. speciosa, A. thraskii or A. marlthii could also look good against the fence. Vines that would complement the succulents might include other dry tropicals such as Petrea volubilis, Tecomaria capensis, Dalechampia dioscoreifolia, and Bougainvilla. Cycads such as Cycas revoluta would thrive in these conditions, and some of the more interesting cycads to consider might include Dioon edulis, Encephalartos horridus, etc. Not tropical at all, but fitting in with this look; consider Kangaroo Paws/Anigozanthus flavidus cultivars, Alstroemeria, Restios such as Elegia capensis or Chondropetalum tectorum, and Phormiums.

In general, I might be more tempted to go with a dry/succulent planting theme, accented with lusher growing plants up against the house where it is conceivably more wind sheltered, and you could create some shade. A couple of Chorisia speciosa/Silk Floss Trees could look very impressive up against the house, and would also give you fall/winter bloom along with the Erythrinas. If you can give it a wind protected spot, you might want to try the Chinese Hardy Banana, Musellia lasiocarpa, which tops out at 5/6 feet, and has large protea-like yellow flowers that last for 6 months or more. Lush looking shrubby flowering shrubs to consider might include Plumbago capensis 'Royal Cape', Duranta stenostachya or D. repens, Psoralea pinnata, Tecoma x smithii, Proteas such as P. 'Pink Ice', or Pin Cushion Leucospermums or Leucadendrons if you have good quality water and proper drainage and enough coastal weather influence. If not, there are still plenty of Grevilleas and Banksias which can be very impressive in bloom.

Foliage plants that will take wind might include Asparagus densiflorus 'Meyers' and A. retrofractus, Melaleuca incana and species, Callistemon violacea and species.


 o
RE: Tropical overhaul

Beautiful plant composition / list David.
With the strong occasional winds the Musella lasiocarpa and like banana type foliage plants might tend to shred a bit.
I have found that the tougher leaves of the giant bird of paradise to hold up a bit better in locations such as Reep has described.
Also the Musella lasiocarpa in my Marin County back yard reaches heights of 10 plus feet tall ( pictured below, for scale the sculpture by Bill Abright stands just shy of 6 feet tall.)

The palm pallette down in your neck of the woods is a joy to work with.
The Butias and Braheas are beautiful palms as is Archontophoenix , Howea forsteriana, Phoneix robelenii , rupicola , reclinata and the large but favorite dactylifera.

A combination that I am working on next to a spa area currently includes the fragrant night blooming jasmine , Cestrum nocturum. It is a very powerful scented plant that requires proper placement so that one can enjoy the scent but not be overpowered by it.
We are also using Eucalyptus ficifolia as our flowering trees along with Leucodendrons, Tibouchinia, Cannas, Brugmansias, Heliconias, Furcraea foetida 'mediopicta', and lots of various succulents such as Sencio, Aeoniums, Echiveras and more.

I did consider using Acacia cognata vs. the Eucalyptus ficifolia but I am wowed by the color of the Eucalyptus flowers although I prefer the weeping willow like look of the Acacia.

Musella lasiocarpa


 o
RE: Tropical overhaul

  • Posted by spectre z10 Sunset 24CA (My Page) on
    Thu, Jan 29, 04 at 22:54

Beautiful suggestions and comments as always from three people who are extremely knowledgeable, professional and know the SoCal climate like Bahia, Venezuela and Catkim, especially the observations about lining up and using queens.

David, the understory plantings I mentioned such as Mertya and Tupidanthus would do well in a protected position. The two Pukas Mertya I'm growing have held up very well to the wind in the two years I've had them. Of course, some of this will depend on how far inland Reep is because Pukas do appreciate humidity. I did not recommend Chorisia and Erythrina because Reep specifically asked for trees that have a flat canopy shape, similar to the Delonix regia that you, David, and I are both fond of. The floss silk tree (Chorisia) is more columnar in shape while the coral tree Erythrina naturally grows more rounded. In addition, those trees may have the same issues that you alluded to with Tabebuia and the wind.

I also agree with David's palm choices, though I'd stay away from the suggested Archontophoenix (king palm) because drying winds will dessicate the heck out of them. Your proximity to the ocean will also dictate whether Howea will look good, because though they can take high winds (being planted next to the ocean) they don't like bone-dry humidity. Brahea and Butia are excellent choices because they are more heat and drought tolerant; however, I believe, with Reep's limited space, they would look better in a dry/succulent planting theme, as opposed to the jungle look. In those cases, any of the Pheonix palms mentioned will work well. You can use P. robellini as understory.

Reep, the "look" you're leaning towards will very much dictate the palette that can be recommended, as Bahia intimates in his dry-succulent garden example.

spectre

P.S.: As an aside, David, Bismarckias are not as marginal as you believe on the SoCal coast; there are very fine specimens in Balboa Park and in many older San Diego neighborhoods. I have seven silver ones myself that have done very well.


 o
RE: Tropical overhaul

  • Posted by Reep z10 SoCal (My Page) on
    Fri, Jan 30, 04 at 11:34

Sorry for the delay everyone. I posted last night to respond to all of you, but my computer must have eaten it. So I will post one at a time to make sure it takes.

Catkim: The queen palms are mainly based on the fact that they do well in my area. I want the palms to divide up the view, without blocking it. So, the height is about right. In our neighborhood, we are not supposed to plant trees that grow taller than the house (about 40 feet). But, there are a lot of Queen palms in the area already, so I know they are safe. One of my favorites is the canary island date palm, but I think it would overwhelm my relatively small back yard. Not to mention they are relatively expensive. My current plan is to use BOP behind the spa because it is about the right height and makes a nice dense screen.

Reep.


 o
Spectre

  • Posted by Reep z10 SoCal (My Page) on
    Fri, Jan 30, 04 at 11:57

Spectre: The spa will sit in the center back of the yard, 5' from the back fence. It is 8'wx7'd with seating in all corners and sides.

Regarding style, I want lush, full and green with bright accent colors. I wouldn't mind have several unique plants that are rare in the area, but I don't want to have to run out and cover my whole back yard every time it dips down to 32 degrees. I like Hawaiian (Waimea park (sp)), but don't know what Balinese looks like.

The yard will basically have a 4-5' planter area on the borders (elevated 1.5' with retaining wall in the back) with the spa dividing the R and L side equally. The R side will be hardscaped and include a decent sized grill bar and the left side will be grass for the kids. The good view is off the back L corner. There is a bay window off the kitchen that overlooks the spa (center) and a slider and windows off the the R of that. The L side first floor is the back of the garage. The second store has windows all the way across. The planter areas will extend out from the back to encase the back and sides of the spa, so that when you are in it, you should feel like you are surrounded on three sides by plants. I would like short broad trees on either side of the spa to provide a canopy over the spa so that you feel like you are in a plant grotto.

I would rather have the plantings look like I carved the back yard out of a natural paradise, but I don't want it to be totally random either.

Thanks again.

Reep


 o
Venezuela

  • Posted by Reep z10 SoCal (My Page) on
    Fri, Jan 30, 04 at 12:04

I am in Newbury Park (by Thousand Oaks) on the South side of 101. My house is 9 miles from the ocean at about 900 feet. Our back yard faces the Boney mountain range at the West end of the Santa Monica mountains.

My vision of tropical is not chaos, but very lush (overgrown?) with only aesthetic organization. The spa planters are still on paper, so I am considering softening the lines to make it more organic. I am also going to shake up the palm spacing, but wonder if it works well to plant Queens close together, or whether I should consider another variety that handles the better.

Thanks,

Rich


 o
Bahia

  • Posted by Reep z10 SoCal (My Page) on
    Fri, Jan 30, 04 at 12:13

The wind is not constant or often, but it comes in a few times a year and it is strong and constant, especially for the trees at the back of the yard. Bronze Loquat Tree/Eriobotrya deflexa is currently number 4 on my list of feature trees. My only complaint is I like a flatter more spread habit. I am concerned that Coral trees/Erythrinas might tear apart my elevated planter area with their roots, any thoughts?

Thanks for the other suggestions. I will look them up.

Using a dry/succulent planting theme may be my best bet as we are relatively dry here. I do want to use some decorative bananas next to the house, they should be safe from winds.

Thanks.

Rich


 o
Mich

  • Posted by Reep z10 SoCal (My Page) on
    Fri, Jan 30, 04 at 12:23

Cestrum nocturum sounds very nice, I will try it. I considered eucalyptus ficifolia, but crossed it off because I read that it drops a lot of sap and that sap is toxic to plant below it. I didn't want it getting all over the spa cover and I wanted to use some under plantings. Any thoughts, experience?


 o
RE: Tropical overhaul

Reep,
I haven't experienced the sap dripping problem that you mention but thanks for the heads up on that particular challenge.
I have Eucalptus ficifolia trees planted out in the landscapes that do not have any hardscaping elements surrounding them so have never noticed the sap dripping dilemma.

The Cestrum nocturum is a wonderfully fragrant plant and as I mentioned previously it is very strongly scented.
I think you will enjoy its scent while floating in the spa, just be sure to position it so that there is a bit of distance between where you are floating and where it is planted.
It is intoxicatingly sweet .


 o
Jungle v. Succulent

  • Posted by Reep z10 SoCal (My Page) on
    Fri, Jan 30, 04 at 12:42

Since I'm starting from scratch I could go either way. I obviously have irrigation set up, but the natural environment around our house is very arid. I lean toward the junle look, but can good irrigation overcome the lack of humidity? I don't mind assisting mother nature, but would rather not have my back yard be a constant battle with her either.


 o
RE: Tropical overhaul

Reep,
I gleaned an idea from Bahias back yard inwhere he has a huge old plum tree dripping with bromeliads. Within the canopy of the tree he has set up a very simple mist system, all the plants in the tree as well as the jungle below are thriving.

My inland Marin county yard is extremely hot and dry in the summer with drying winds that come off of Mt. Burdell.
I have taken Bahias idea and have mounted a mist system onto my fence ( my yard is a long narrow bowling alley shape )
The mist system is very effective and I am growing some very interesting border line plants for my zone and dry climate ( see the Feb/ March 2003 Garden Design Magazine for detail photographs ) such as Kentia palms, Archontophoenix , bromeliads , lots of different ferns in the understory as well as some common house plants such as ti , philodendrons , orchids and others.


 o
RE: Tropical overhaul

  • Posted by Reep z10 SoCal (My Page) on
    Fri, Jan 30, 04 at 14:23

Okay, you all are inspiring me. The hardscape is still in design mode, so I am considering abandoning my raised bed and softening the lines. This would also allow me to consider some of the trees I rejected because of potential root issues. This would also drop the cost of the hardscape and allows me to put more into the plants.


 o
RE: Tropical overhaul

  • Posted by spectre z10 Sunset 24CA (My Page) on
    Fri, Jan 30, 04 at 14:45

Reep:

Sounds like your wheels are turning . . . I have a pool with a Balinese/Polynesian theme going in my garden that will be featured in San Diego Home & Garden Lifestyles in the April 2004 issue. Additionally, there will be a spread in March 2004's SD Home. Unfortunately, I can't send you the pictures they have taken, but I can get links of pics I've taken e-mailed to you if you're interested for ideas. When the actual pubs come out, I'll let you know . . .you should be able to get it at a local newsstand.

Like Bahia says, a dryer garden palette may be more appropriate to your Sunset 21 climate. Since you said that you had an idea of the theme you want, but are not sure yet, I'm finishing up an article I'm writing for SD Hort Society Newsletter reviewing the different schools of thought behind tropical garden design and what make each one distinctive. I can e-mail that to you so you can get an overview to help hone your thought processes.

I'm sure Bahia, Ven-Master and others will continue contributing ideas to you as I will. Have fun!

spectre


 o
RE: Tropical overhaul

Well folks, I think as soon as the April 2004 issue of San Diego Home and Garden Lifestyles is out Spectres true identity will appear----unless he has paid them to slip in the foto of the bald guy. So order your copies before they are gone!!!!!! Maybe he will autograph them for us....save me one Spectre.

Reep you might be carefull with the cestrum, your neighbors might complain. My wife would kill me if I put one in as it gives her a terrible headache, but then she has a sensitive nose. To me it smells just fine.

Queen palms look great in groups as do most palms. Have you ever noticed how a lone Washingtonia looks skinny and weak but in a group of 5 or 7 or more they look GREAT? Out in older areas of Southern Cal you can see them planted like this, particularly around Riverside. If you plant the palms so that the bases of their trunks touch they will grow with graceful curves that do wonders in making the tropical look.


 o
RE: Tropical overhaul

  • Posted by bahia SF Bay Area (My Page) on
    Fri, Jan 30, 04 at 20:57

Reep,
Drought tolerant plants and succulents don't necessarily need to look dry and cactus like. If they get minimal regular irrigation in the dry season you can keep things looking plump and green with much less water than a true jungle plant list would require. I would instead concentrate more water loving/less wind resistant plantings in one area where you can zone the irrigation to give more water, without having to design the whole yard to use an intensive amount of water. Some of the larger growing Euphorbias which look like columnar cactus could also look quite spectacular in your zone 21 setting. You should check out the Huntington Botanic Garden, particularly the desert and jungle sections to get good ideas, they also have a fabulous palm collection.

Spectre,
I am curious to know if any of the large Bismarckias around San Deigo came through the 1990 freeze unscathed, or are they mostly more recently planted? I had always heard that they were rather frost tender, and know that they are out of reach for us here in the San Francisco Bay Area; just too cool and wet to suit them in winter, similar to Royal Palms. However, my King Palms do very well here, except when the foliage gets burned by the occasional freeze, similar to the Howea's.

I ahd also assumed that this was an inland valley situation where humidity would be lower, so I hadn't even mentioned any of the palms that do better along the coast. Queens can certainly be grouped together more closely, but they look even better if they go in at different sizes when planted close together. I don't think the Mertya would be happy at all so far inland in so Cal., too hot and dry, and with the occasional heavy frost in winters to do major damage.

Another flowering large shrub/small tree that might fit in with your scheme, and California natives to boot, might include Fremontodendron californica cultivars, or Ceanothus 'Ray Hartman'. Both these would need separate irrigation, or utilizing drip irrigation that could be disconnected once they are established, as they don't tolerate regular summer irrigation. The native Catalina Ironwood could also be a good tree to frame views in the back yard, and also has showy foliage and large attractive summer flowers. Arbutus 'Marina' could be used in the same way. There just arent' that many flat topped growing trees for California gardens, so instead looking for those that have strong horizontal branching struture such as the Chorisia might serve better. I realize that the Chorisia flowers are just as fragile as Tabebuia, but they bloom in succession over a longer period than Tabebuia, so one wind event won't tend to wipe out all the flowers. In this respect, Erythrina flowers are much tougher holding up to wind, although the tree itself is shallow rooting, so needs to be thinned regularly to avoid blowdowns. Planting them in lawns tends to make them more likely to blow over, they are better with less water. Alternatively, a palm like small tree that will take wind and not get too big might include Cussonia paniculata var sinuata. These make very picturesque small trees that look palm like until they start branching upon first flowering, and pick up the bluish foliage of a Bismarckia without being so monstrously large, and are much hardier. I personally don't like the look of Giant Bird of Paradise when exposed to strong winds, they look much better to me when the leaves aren't all ripped up.

Eucalyptus ficifolia doesn't have oils in the leaves which inhibit understory plantings, but instead is usually so densely growing that it tends to shade out plantings below it. It also is best closer to the coast, zone 21 is probably less than ideal for both freezes and summer heat and dry air.


 o
RE: Tropical overhaul

  • Posted by spectre z10 Sunset 24CA (My Page) on
    Fri, Jan 30, 04 at 21:11

Venezuela:

I'm doing everything I can to get them to put Dr. Evil's picture in instead of mine and say that it's "Dr. Evil's Secret Aboveground Tropical Lair," but some stupid rule about not doctoring pictures is getting in the way. At least for now, it's in a regional magazine so most people on this board won't see it. It will be tougher to hide when our garden goes national in the summer.

I can always deny it's me.

spectre (mild-mannered poster with glasses)


 o
RE: Tropical overhaul

Well folks, I think as soon as the April 2004 issue of San Diego Home and Garden Lifestyles is out Spectres true identity will appear----unless he has paid them to slip in the foto of the bald guy. So order your copies before they are gone!!!!!! Maybe he will autograph them for us....save me one Spectre.

Reep you might be carefull with the cestrum, your neighbors might complain. My wife would kill me if I put one in as it gives her a terrible headache, but then she has a sensitive nose. To me it smells just fine.

Queen palms look great in groups as do most palms. Have you ever noticed how a lone Washingtonia looks skinny and weak but in a group of 5 or 7 or more they look GREAT? Out in older areas of Southern Cal you can see them planted like this, particularly around Riverside. If you plant the palms so that the bases of their trunks touch they will grow with graceful curves that do wonders in making the tropical look.


 o
RE: Tropical overhaul

  • Posted by spectre z10 Sunset 24CA (My Page) on
    Fri, Jan 30, 04 at 21:29

Hello Bahia, Reep and Ven-Master:

Now that I know that Reep is in Zone 21, I know what Reep puts up with now since I call on a company in that area, I'm up there frequently. I agree with you that the Puka Mertya is too fragile for where Reep is, but there could be other alternatives. Bahia and Ven: to meet Reep's desire to have a flat topped tree, what do you think of Tipuanu tipu. . . might get quite large however, but handles the heat and wind, and depending on the winter, holds it's leaves.

Cassia leptophylla handles the wind very well, grows kind of smallish, and has beautiful flowers. What do you think of that and Chorisia? Reep will have flowering trees from June to December, and we can add tropical blooms with a variety of aloes to provide interest in winter.

BTW, Bahia, Bismarckia have been planted in Balboa Park and older neighborhoods for years, before the 1990 freeze. At worst, the leaves get a little purplish, similar to a guava. According to Palms for Southern California, members have reported it taking 28F. San Diego's all time low was 25F and that was 1913 before there was a heat island effect. They grow them in Valley Center (inland SD County Z21) and though they get damaged, they pull through.

Did you ever check out the tipu trees at San Jose Int'l Airport I told you about a few months back, Bahia?

spectre


 o
RE: Tropical overhaul

  • Posted by keaau z11USA (My Page) on
    Fri, Jan 30, 04 at 21:53

One of the most outstanding plantings I have seen here is a row of huge variegated Agave staggered (or is that a staggered row?)in front of a wall of green Monstera. They all get along so well and it nearly knocks your socks off!

Love reading all of your ideas...


 o
RE: Tropical overhaul

  • Posted by Reep z10 SoCal (My Page) on
    Sat, Jan 31, 04 at 2:03

Spectre,

I saw some examples and couldn't see the shape, but then I ran into the link below. I love the shape of this sample. Is this typical? It seems to meet most of my other requirements as well.

Here is a link that might be useful: Tipuana tipu


 o
I'm posting a picture of my plan

  • Posted by Reep z10 SoCal (My Page) on
    Sat, Jan 31, 04 at 8:48

I put a link to a picture with my updated plan on it. The house is on the bottom, grass on the left, hardscape on the right. The circles represent my main tree plantings with palms as small circles on teh border and the bigger circles next to the spa in the middle are my feature trees. Hope this helps.

Because of my dry climate I have decided to try and avoid plants that require a lot of water or humidity. Not exclusively succulents, but there will be plenty included.

Rich

Here is a link that might be useful: Rich's landscape plan


 o
RE: Tropical overhaul

  • Posted by spectre z10 Sunset 24CA (My Page) on
    Sat, Jan 31, 04 at 12:51

Hello Reep:

Thanks for the picture of the plan . . .I'm sure I and my fellow posters will take a look at it and give you some advice. In regards to the tipu tree, the link you have is it and it has the shape you're looking for, but it may get too big. Might want to be sure that's what you want.

I sent you 2 emails, one with the article and the other a picture link . . . did you receive them?

Lastly, I hope Bahia, Venezuela, and perhaps Catkim will come back with their thoughts on what's been said up to now. I'm thinking that since Reep wants to go dry-subtropical, we can leave the area immediately around the spa with the "jungle" lush theme he's looking for, with transition towards more drought-tolerant plants on the outside. What do you think?

spectre


 o
RE: Tropical overhaul

  • Posted by Reep z10 SoCal (My Page) on
    Sat, Jan 31, 04 at 15:55

Hi Spectre,

I received the first and will have to get the second on Monday. Wow, you yard looks great. It reminds me of what I wanted when we were originally considering a pool, but we decided against it.

I was thinking the same thing about going more jungle around the spa (in the shade of the trees) and drier as we go out on both sides.

My current thinking is cassia lepto. on the R of the spa and erythrina crista-galli on the L of the spa. On the R side of the bay window a pindo palm and on the L side of the bay window a eriobotrya deflexia or schefflera act.

Rich


 o
RE: Tropical overhaul

Rich, I know that the Tiuana tipu will get too big. I remember two big ones back in southern california which would block the view of the mountains from the second floor. You would have to become an expert pruner to keep them to the size you want without destroying their structure. The E. cristigalis sounds better although it will take time to get big enough for much shade.
Looking at your lay out I feel that the tree you want to put to the spa's right will only block the view of the mountains from above. It may frame the view better if you place it to the far right where you indicated some palms.

I would think that using plants with less water needs would be smarter. You are not on the coast like Spectre where his humid and cooler climate lets him water less than where you live. Using more succulent type plants sounds ideal. You should get him to invite you down in person and then look over his back fence and you can see a fantastic garden lush with succulents and other exotic plants. He could stay inside in a closet or under the bed and let his better half show you around so he wouldn't have to sacrifice is identity!!!!!!!!!!!


 o
RE: Tropical overhaul

  • Posted by Reep z10 SoCal (My Page) on
    Sat, Jan 31, 04 at 22:34

Venezuela, thanks for the confirmation on the Tiuana tipu, although it makes me wish I had a bigger yard.

I was a little off on communicating the location of the main mountains. There are mountains 180 degrees, but the main rocky ones are just to the L of the corner, so the corner palms are somewhat in the view, but the rest is L of that. My one concern with the trees is that I will be able to see under them, but I think this will be okay with both varieties.


 o
RE: Tropical overhaul

You might want to try some tall and open trees that you can see under at ground level and see through at second story level. Something that would give you a light shade and a feeling of airiness.


 o
RE: Tropical overhaul

Hello All:

Reep, I came up with this initial plan based on your drawing. I assumed the sliding door was 9', but as with anything else, this can be changed easily. I made some minor modifications to your plan (you said you were open to changing the hardscape). I turned the connection between the lawn and patio in a 42" path with a slight curve. This will add a little mystery between the two sides where we can add focal points. The spa is now connected to this path by a side walkway with a step, instead of a total contiguous connection on one side. This will increase the "coziness" of the spa.

As far as the patio goes, it's approximately the same size as the lawn for balance. The lawn is a circle with a 20' diameter (probably will have to make it smaller because this gives us 2.5' on the house and fence side). It's rounded for ease of maintenance and I've included a 6 inch mow strip. I haven't added any foliage until I get feedback as to whether you like my modifications or you have other ideas. After all, it's your garden. Whenever you choose what you'd like to go with, then we can have real fun and pick the plants.

Again, Bahia, Ven, Catkim and most anyone else, let me know what you think as well and any suggestions are welcomed.

Reep, let me know and take care.

spectre


 o
RE: Tropical overhaul

  • Posted by Reep z10 SoCal (My Page) on
    Mon, Feb 2, 04 at 11:37

Spectre,

Wow, I love the design. It has a nice flow with very interesting elements including the path and the circular lawn. The main path would be in my more junglish section, so maybe I could make it tunneling through my trees when mature. There are a couple of issues I need to adjust, but let me think about it and then I'll repost. The only thing that is that the spa needs to have an access point to the control panel on one side. I was going to have it under the 2.5' side in my original drawing, but I'll try and relocate it.

I'll be back.


 o
RE: Tropical overhaul

  • Posted by spectre z10 Sunset 24CA (My Page) on
    Mon, Feb 2, 04 at 16:33

Hello Reep:

I'm glad that you like it . . . I wasn't sure how you would receive it, but your reaction is much appreciated.

Regarding spa control access: I'm not sure what your budget constraints are (none of my business), but may I suggest adding a Compool controller (or something similar) to your spa. It's an upgrade allows you to to have a control panel in the spa where you can control temperature, jets, even landscape lighting, without leaving the water. This will eliminate the need for an additional access point. You may want to ask your builder about this.

I look forward to getting additional feedback. Take care.

spectre


 o
RE: Tropical overhaul

  • Posted by Reep z10 SoCal (My Page) on
    Mon, Feb 2, 04 at 22:33

Spectre,

I am getting a remote control that will handle the lights and temp, etc. My only concern is that if something goes wrong with the pump, etc. , they will need access to the controls. So, I either need to have an access panel, or go ahead and seal it in on faith that it won't break down, and if it does, we just dig out the one wall and then repair it.

I was thinking about rotating the spa about 20 degrees counter clockwise so that the entry path hits the middle rather than the corner. This way I could hide access under the entry steps.


 o
RE: Tropical overhaul

  • Posted by spectre z10 Sunset 24CA (My Page) on
    Mon, Feb 2, 04 at 23:48

Reep:

The way it typically works is that the main panel is located near the pump, filters, and other equipment. They send an RJ-45 type cable to the remote location (in this case, your spa). Chances are whereever your equipment is, that's where the main panel is. The remote control is simply mounted in a well in the spa that's silicone sealed.

All of this supposes that this is a built in spa with the equipment off to the side. If we need to rotate, we can make it work.

spectre


 o
RE: Tropical overhaul

I am interested in getting the seeds of Tabebuia Impetiginosa , T.heterophylla and T.roseo-alba . Who could provide? Please contact with me(cherrylandscape@tom.com


 o
RE: Tropical overhaul

I am doing the same thing right now? WHere exactly are you? I am in san fernando valley..I starting with one lonely queen palm and some guava bushes and my vegie gardent. Got a pool too! I am having sush a hard time planning out the trees etc....my pool divides the yard...my husband wants tropical and I am a native plant person...i like salvias, drought tolerants etc....

So i am doing "sub tropic"

I have a subtripical plant book and mounds of books on trees, i ahve been to every tree nursery in the vallye. Its soo hard planning because you cant move trees like roses etc..onece its there its there

and i am racing against time....you really have to do it before june...before it gets too hot!!

very overwhelming

what trees did you finally decide on?

I am going with hong kong orchid on left of pool and on right against back wall going with australian willows and fruit trees.

Also we are facing 2 story homes going up on other side of our wall...darn it!! so we are adding lattice ontop of block wall for privacey...

its all too much


 o
RE: Tropical overhaul

I need a tropical overhaul too. I need to haul my self over to the tropics and blow this popsicle stand in Qatar. Cheryl


 o
RE: Tropical overhaul

This was just such a great string I had to see if I could bump it to the top so I can access it easily to reference.


 o
RE: Tropical overhaul

  • Posted by gpd79 Home Z 6B, Summer ho (My Page) on
    Wed, Jun 17, 09 at 2:40

So Reep... how did this thing ever end up? I'd love to see pictures!


 o
RE: Tropical overhaul: Please Re-Post Pictures!

I have just gotten through reading the whole string of comments as I have a hot, south-facing slope and a pool/spa in the backyard of my home in Orange County (Laguna Niguel, California)and I want a tropical,lush, colorful low maintenance slope. Would any of you who would like to give ideas, please re-post your pictures of your tropical slopes? I appreciate all of the expertise! Thanks!


 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!


Return to the Garden Restoration Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.


Learn more about in-text links on this page here