Filled in a Little More of the Garden!

This little spot in my border has been left empty after this winter, after the blood banana and tree fern sadly bit the dust.  The little bush to the right of the birdbath is a gardenia and its handled the cold and waterlogged soil for the last couple of years, but its a compact variety.  I went to my local Ace Hardware nursery and they gave me a great deal on some "Mystery" Gardenias, marked down for their lankiness.  I even got a very affordable bottlebrush since it was scrawny and a bit rootbound.  I actually like the trunk's ancient form more anyways!

This is the same spot after its been filled.  What a difference!  I pruned out the smaller branches on the gardenias and just left several strong trunks in place, which will be tip pruned after they've been established.  I plan on employing the Japanese niwaki pruning technique (like bonsai but bigger) on most of my shrubs, but the gardenia are actually at a good enough size to start on.  I'll make individual canopies from the tips of each branch to give an illusion of depth and space. 
The bottlebrush will simply be trained to grow several contorted trunks by pruning and shaping with twine.  It isn't big enough to cut the leader yet, but I can slowly limb it up so that it focuses its energy on getting taller. 

Here's another before picture...

And after!

You'll notice that the bottlebrush is pretty close to the picabeen palm, and it was intentional!  I planted it there to help protect the cold tender palm and I'll also wrap the palm's trunk in winter.  My weeping bottlebrush is on the other side of the palm as well, so the palm's crown should be okay.
Because the soil is rather waterlogged, I sat the rootballs at only half their height and mounded up the soil around the roots.

I even raised up the soil to one side of the dead tree fern trunk and planted some bromeliads in leaf mould.  My hope is that they will eventually climb the bottlebrush.  Oh, and to the left you can see my turmeric and shampoo gingers popping up!  Just imagine seeing bright red Vriesea flowers and shampoo ginger cones in the same scene!  The more canopy I get in there, the more bromeliads I can get away with growing on the trunks.
I'm really excited because now I have another hardy evergreen tree to shade my rainforest garden and protect the plants from frost.  I guess I do need trees to emulate a rainforest after all...


  1. Looks like you have been very busy. You have really put a lot of thought in to your garden and I am sure it will be rewarded. I'll be watching for the results. I am also going to google "Japanese niwaki pruning technique" and see what that is all about. Maybe I can try it in my garden. It is always fun to try something new.Thanks

  2. Your filled-in corner looks very nice! Well thought about using other plants to shield the palm from the cold. The gardenia is quite cold-hardy since mine went through the freeze just fine. That bright red Vriesea flowers and shampoo ginger cones in the same scene description sounds a very pretty picture! I love the before-after pictures, which shows the progress so clearly, and made the gardener feel a sense of achievement :) I also posted "my garden - one year later" picture a couple of posts before.

  3. This area of your garden looks very nice now. I didn't realize that gardenias could take damp soil. I'm always on the search for plants that don't mind standing in water a couple months of the year. I have a bottlebrush tree in wet ground and it does well. You made some nice selections and got some good bargains, too.

  4. It really does make it look so filled in and quite beautiful in the after shots! Great work. I've been seeing people planting turmeric this your first time planting it??? Do you have to dry it before using in cooking, or can you use it fresh???

  5. It look very nice, so much that it appears that they have been there for ages.

  6. Well, you're local Ace Hardware carries zero plants. I've never seen a green thing for sale there. We have to drive a great distance to find plants. So strange that one has to drive to the city to find a nursery. Hmmmm....

    That scene of shampoo ginger, vriesias, and bottlebrush does sound wonderful. Red is quite eye-catching in the garden. My vriesias still look pit-ee-ful with freeze damage. They were stupidly planted under a deciduous tree, which is something that should never happen with broms in CF.

  7. You've filled in this area so nicely. You chose cold hardy plants which will make you happy come January. Sometimes cold hardy means ho-hum, but these choices are great. I'm especially fond of bottle brush. When the gardenias bloom it will smell wonderful there.

  8. Nice job! You've worked hard, and picked your choices wisely. Bottle brush is truly awesome!

  9. Great after work. Bottle brush is a great choice and the space looks great.


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