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Your LIFE: Paradise FOUND; GARDENING IF YOU CAN'T GET AWAY FROM THE GREAT BRITISH SUMMER THEN SPICE UP YOUR PATCH WHATEVER THE WEATHER WITH A TASTE OF THE TROPICS. THESE EIGHT EASY EXOTICS WILL START YOU OFF..

Byline: PIPPA GREENWOOD

Pippa has presented her own series, Growing Science, on Radio 4 for three years and is a regular panelist on the station's Gardeners' Question Time. She's also written many books including Pippa Greenwood's Gardening Year (Headline, pounds 16.99).

1 INDIAN SHOT (CANNA)

IT has wonderful banana-like leaves, either in green, purply green or green striped with yellow, plus brilliant red, pink and yellow flowers for maximum impact. It grows in pretty well any soil, provided it has plenty of sun and while it's not totally hardy, it'll last from year to year if you provide protection or bring it into a porch or greenhouse over winter.

2 JAPANESE BANANA PLANT (MUSA BASJOO)

OR why not go for a real banana plant? Musa basjoo's massive leaves will bring a truly tropical atmosphere to your plot. It's hardy in all but the coldest parts of the UK and even if the top growth is hit by frost, it should shoot again from below ground. It does well in a sunny or partially shaded spot and reaches up to 1.8m (6ft) - but don't expect edible fruit!

3 GINGER LILY (HEDYCHIUM)

THIS increasingly popular plant, with its delicate and intricate yellow and orange flowerheads above wide sheath-like leaves, produces a wonderfully rich perfume.

Give it plenty of food and sun and it will grow to 90cm (3ft) or more.

4 CHUSAN PALM (TRACHYCARPUS FORTUNEI)

CHOOSE either sun or part shade and you can enjoy this palm throughout the year. It has huge, evergreen leaves with a fan-like shape atop a chunky fibre-covered trunk.

5 ARUM LILIES (ZANTEDESCHIA AETHIOPICA)

THEY have large green foliage topped by elegant white blades and do well in a moist spot - even at the edges of a pond. If the soil is kept damp, they can even be grown in a good-sized pot.

6 TREE FERNS (DICKSONIA)

THEIR massive leaves that develop from the sturdy, brown trunk look like they come straight from the set of Jurassic Park.

A partly shaded spot with moist soil suits them best.

7 HOSTAS

YOU may not think of hostas as exotics but their large, often beautifully marked, leaves fit well in a tropical setting.

To reach their full potential of lushness and exuberance, they need a moist soil and dappled shade.

8 SPIDER FLOWERS (CLEOME)

THEY'RE definitely at the funky end of the plant spectrum, with their wacky, spiky leaves topping palmlike foliage.

And with growth potential of 1.2m (3ft 11ins), they're big on impact - but plenty of sun is a must.

Weekend checklist

1 Snip off faded roseheads to keep in better flowering order. Leave the hips to develop on varieties like geranium.

2 Make sure that nets are in place over strawberry crops - now fruits are ripening they make tasty desserts for birds too.

3 Water containers in the evening - if necessary, stand the base of the container in water for half an hour or so.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jul 7, 2007
Words:491
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