Tropical Courtyard Garden

As any gardener knows, spending time outside with your favorite plants has a magical, curative effect on the mind and nerves.I paved this little courtyard area last year and have since watched my palms and bromeliads slowly fill in. I originally paved it as a place for my handicapped mom to enjoy the garden, so there are no tables to impede accessibility. Care to join me for a little tour?

For tropical looking palms in the Coastal South, you can do no better than grow lady palm, (Rhapis excelsa) hardy bamboo palm (Chamadorea microspadix) and radicalis palm (Chamadorea radicalis) to recreate the look of the tropics. Bromeliads cluster at the base of the palms.

To the left is something I've never seen before: the flowering stalk of a lady palm! Maybe they've gone unnoticed since the inflorescences are mostly hidden in the foliage, but such an elegant combo of pink and cream should be pretty hard to miss, wouldn't you think? (sorry the photo's a tad blurry; I was shooting on the run.)

After exposure to searing sun, a flooded container and freezes in the low twenties, my Japanese bird's nest fern isn't looking at it's best. However, can you think of a more tropical looking fern that can take all of that punishment? I've since removed it from the container and planted it in the ground after amending it with compost and bark. It seems to be doing better already!

The bottlebrush and pineapple guava are really starting to take off! Soon they'll provide the shade and frost protection that I planted them for, but I might prune the pineapple guava and azaleas for a tidier look after the pineapple guava has finished flowering and fruiting.

Thanks for visiting my little patch of paradise! Next time you see it, hopefully it will look a little better: I'd really like to do a better job with the paving next time around!


  1. Great idea to plant the bottle brush. Hopefully your Mom will be on the patio and see the hummingbirds visit the bottle brush.

  2. Thanks for the photo tour. It's another rainy, unseasonably cold day in our neck of the woods - so I envy your garden's progress. (I have to believe we'll break into sunshine and warmer temps SOMEday in the near future?)

  3. Thanks, Steve! I think you mentioned that your Mom lives in a condo. You've made a very nice, safe space for her to enjoy the outdoors in a tropical environment. Love the variety of plants you've selected for this small space!

  4. Yes, this courtyard has been filled in nicely. Love that bottlebrush tree! Provides shade, texture and color into this yard, beautiful! My birds nest is still in container. Since it is getting big, I am trying to find a spot shady enough, yet to be able to see. Difficult spot in my yard... Yours looks healthy, and it will be even better every day from now on.

  5. Love seeing this courtyard as it grows and grows. Those cold tolerant palms give the area a really tropical look.

  6. Everything is looking for nice! That is so nice that you made such a great spot for your Mom to enjoy. Now everyone can. Looks like a great little area for a little table, chair and some tea!

  7. Your plants are looking good, especially your inflorescence surprise. That's a wonderful place to have set up for your mom.

  8. Steve, your patio garden is spectacular! I didn't realize you have a weeping bottle brush tree...LOVE IT!!! Hopefully it'll bring the hummers to your sweet patio! It's on my wish list and I'm hot on the path of an affordable, healthy speciman!! I also am a fan of your birds nest fern and lady palm...really tropical!

  9. siestasister:
    I haven't seen any hummers visit it yet since I don't live there, but my mom has seen them!

    For crying out loud, it's almost MAY and winter should be over, even up there! If it makes you feel any better, it's already summer here.

    My mom actually lives in a house, but I live in an apartment. It's nice because it also lends privacy to the house!

    It's taking a while to get much shade in my garden too... I know that people tend to complain about shady gardens, but I prefer them! Especially in summer.

    Thanks! I'm still surprised that radicalis palm and hardy bamboo palm aren't more popular by now.

    You know, I think I WILL include a little table for some tea! I was concerned about providing enough space for the wheelchair, but I think there's enough room to go around.

    Thanks! I've actually never seen a lady palm inflorescence, but man are they pretty! :)

    How could you NOT have a bottlebrush tree? You can't beat evergreen foliage AND bright red flowers. I have four planted at the moment and they're all finally starting to grow up! :)


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