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GARDENING: Hot stars; Create your own tropical haven in your back yard.

Byline: ADRIENNE WILD

BOLD, bright shades and exotic plants from lilies to bananas will make your garden a tropical paradise... and there's no stressful travelling involved!

PARTY PIECE

CREATE a fiesta feel with canna lilies' yellow leaves and orange flowers, which contrast with palmate leaves and flowers in purple, red and bronze.

EXPERT TIP: In mild areas, leave them in the ground, if covered with mulch. Or lift the plants in early autumn and store in a frost-free shed. Plant out at the end of May.

HOW MUCH? From pounds 5.50 Mulu (01386 833171, www.mulu.co.uk)

BANANA-RAMA

BANANAS are the ultimate in exotica, fast-growing and easy to cultivate. Amongst the hardiest is the Japanese banana, Musa basjoo, but plant it in shelter away from high winds.

EXPERT TIP: Thrives in any soil and sun or shade but must be well fed in summer. After the frost has blackened the leaves, cut them off at the base. Pack the stem with straw and wrap with hessian to protect it in winter.

HOW MUCH? From pounds 9.95 from Mulu (01386 833171, www.mulu.co.uk)

POKER PLAY

THE fiery hues of red hot poker flowers add a vertical contrast to plants with broad foliage. The best shade is the bi-coloured variety Royal Standard, which has golden blooms with red tips.

EXPERT TIP: Kniphofias prefer sandy soil in sun or partial shade. Cover the crown with straw to protect from frost.

HOW MUCH? pounds 6.50 from Cotswold Garden Flowers (01386 833849, www.cgf.net)

CROC OF GOLD

THE orange flowers and sword-like leaves of crocosmia is a good contrast to large paddle-shaped leaves and bold flowers such as dahlias.

EXPERT TIP: Can be grown from corms in spring. Plant them 3- 4in deep, in soil enriched with organic matter, in sun or partial shade. Divide clumps in spring or autumn every three years.

HOW MUCH? pounds 4.50, Cotswold Garden Flowers (01386 833849, www.cgf.net)

ANGEL AROMA

THE trumpet flowers of Brugmansia suaveolens (angel's trumpets) are intensely scented at night, so find it a sunny, sheltered spot. Grow it in a pot so it can be brought into a porch for winter.

EXPERT TIP: Remove faded leaves to maintain a supply of flowers and in spring prune back vigorous shoots.

HOW MUCH? pounds 8, Shrubland Park Nurseries (01473 833187, www.shrublandparknurseries.co.uk)

TRAIL OF COLOUR

THE popular trailing abutilon is best staked in a bed of low-growing annuals or in a container on a sunny patio.

EXPERT TIP: Prune in late winter or early spring. Re-pot in spring and replace every two years.

HOW MUCH? pounds 8.99, garden centres.

BOLD BAMBOO

VALUED for their graceful forms, gold or black canes and rustling foliage, zigzag bamboo are sought after plants. In mild areas, they are best confined to a container to restrict their run.

EXPERT TIP: In containers plant them in John Innes no 3 potting compost and feed monthly from April through to September. Cut out some of the old canes each year and use them as plant supports.

HOWMUCH? pounds 11.99, garden centres.

DARK DAHLIAS

DARK-leaved forms of dahlia such as the red-flowered Bishop of Llandaff look stunning with lime green nicotiana and red pelargoniums and make great companions for cannas.

EXPERT TIP: Remove dying flowers using a knife. Once autumn frost has blackened the foliage, lift the tubers and store in frost-free shed for winter.

HOW MUCH? Dahlias in pots cost from pounds 5.50 at garden centres.

FLAMING STAR

THE flame nettle can be raised easily from seed or cuttings. Going by the name of solenostemon it comes in every colour imaginable. Plant it in bold drifts with cannas and dahlias.

EXPERT TIP: Plant good-sized specimens for instant effect. Nip off the flowers to produce more leaves. Lift plants before the frosts, potting your favourites to use for cuttings.

HOW MUCH? Potted plants cost around pounds 3 from garden centres.

LOVELY LILIES

GINGER lilies produce strongly fragrant flowers on top of cane-like stems clothed with lush foliage. Given moist but well-drained soil and sun the variety Tara may reach 6ft tall.

EXPERT TIP: Establish plants in a greenhouse. Bring them back indoors in autumn to maintain at 41 deg F (5 deg C).

HOW MUCH? pounds 9.50 from Mulu (01386 833171, www.mulu.co.uk)

'Create a fiesta feeling'

CAPTION(S):

CANNA LILIES; ANGEL'S TRUMPETS; TRAILING ABUTILON; EXOTIC BAMBOO; DAHLIAS; FLAME NETTLE; GINGER LILIES; Broad-leaved banana plants, left, tall red hot poker flowers in background. Far left: Orange crocosmia Pictures: MARIANNE MAJERUS/ GARDEN PICTURE LIBRARY/ GAP (main image: design by WILL GILES)
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jul 15, 2007
Words:772
Previous Article:POT UP NEW POTATOES; Offer of the Week.
Next Article:TRAVEL UPDATE.


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