This is the planting site a little over two years ago, before the alocasia was planted as a 3 gallon plant from Lowes.
After flourishing for a little over a year, the record breaking winter ended up killing all the leaves and even damaging the stems.
This is the clump at present, in mid July. It is now up to my nose.
Here is an eye level view from behind the clump. Why don't more people grow this around here?
Since I live thirty to forty minutes away from my parent's house, I'll often go a week or so without witnessing the drama of my plants unfold. Sometimes when I come back to the garden everything has already changed: Trees have grown taller, bananas have put out new leaves, and vines have taken claim over new territories. The downside is that when a plant is struggling, its often too late to save it from pests or drought and all I see is a withered form stretched out over the soil or a present from my dog right in the cup of a bromeliad. However, everything fills back in before you know it, and you learn to pick plants that grow taller than your dog's legs.
This is what the garden along my fence looked like a little over a year ago in early spring. I have since pulled up the creeping fig under the birdbath just in case it gets a little too vigorous. Notice the little tabebuia tree to the left. The other trees such as bottlebrush and weeping yaupon holly are to the left and right of this scene.
Now look at the explosion of growth taking place right now! The firespike, gingers, pentas and tibouchina have returned, the tabebuia in the back is growing like crazy, and there are some new faces too! Heliconia "Costa Flores" overwintered from last fall, and a purple crinum forms a focal point in the middle. The trees will, in time, form a protective canopy over the understory but by anticipating that happening I've made sure that the understory also thrives in shade.
The back corner is frequently flooded, so anticipating this, I planted everglades palm, false cardamom ginger, philodendron and ti plant, and all of which have proven to handle wet feet in my garden. Behind those I planted trees over the last couple of years. Three native yellow anise trees will provide evergreen foliage and a shady canopy, while a native weeping yaupon holly ties in with the other two I have planted elsewhere in the backyard. I also have three bottlebrushes in the backyard, as well as one in the front. I'm aiming for consistency, so that I can create a more believable "forest" by the time it matures.
The most important plants in my garden are trees, if only for their obvious role in what we perceive as a "rainforest". I could have all sorts of tropical plants in the landscape, but it would be pointless without that extra vertical dimension to add mystery and depth; to make the visitor anticipate what's around the corner. If everything was laid out in flat and static beds without any curves or obstruction to our view, what would be there to satisfy our curiosity?
Often the only thing that gets me out of bed in the morning is curiosity. I rejoice over every new leaf that opens on my balcony, and I check for new stems or germinated seeds every day, as if missing the event would make me wonder all day. Its not a necessity to do these things, just a daily affirmation of the insistence of life to continue growing. To those of you who feel that every day is a repeat of the last hundred mundane ones, I recommend watching a plant and recording its growth even if only as an afterthought on the way out the door or on your lunch break. Just be sure to pick something that won't get hacked down like a hedge or a crape myrtle, because let me tell you, that gets depressing.
An agapanthus bloom stands guard over the entrance to the forest. What lies beyond?