Everyday Gardeners

Plant. Grow. Live.


Build a Lavish Tropical Great Gatsby Garden

Tropical Plant Orange Flowers and Sedum

Gatsby is out in the movie theaters and audiences everywhere have been wowed with the views of the astoundingly beautiful gardens in the show. This movie and its gorgeous garden-filled sets really speak to the classic book the movie is based on, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Gatsby makes aTropical Plants and Cabbage powerful statement about the roaring ‘20’s and how one bootlegger lives lavishly in a time when so many could not. Decadent living is out of reach for the average gardener as well. However, it is easy to have a garden that looks lavish, even if you do not have the cash on hand to build a Hollywood Movie Set in your front lawn.

The secret? Tropicals. I have been using tropicals for years to make a powerful color statement. Tropical plants are singularly the most decadent denizens in my Northern Zone 5b garden. They look rich and have an amazing power to be eye-catching in nearly every combination you can think of.

A few of my favorite tropicals are seen here in photos from my front lawn tropical garden. Combining giant Mega-Cabbage from Bonnie Plants with a creative selection of tropical cannas and elephant ear (colocasia) from Plants Nouveau resulted in a fantastic, rich, over-the-top tropical garden. In the photos for this garden bed you see Canna Maui Punch, Canna Orange Sparkler, Canna Blueberry Sparkler , and Colocasia Red-Eyed Gecko. Contrasting colors like chartreuse, purple, blue-gray, and orange make a fabulous eye-catching combination for a mixed annual and vegetable bed.

Tropical Plant Canna Orange and Yellow Flower

With their bold leaf colors and gorgeous flowers, tropical plants have a way of making any visitor to your garden smile and they combine well with perennials, annuals, or vegetables. Better yet, you can save money by over wintering the tropical plants from year to year. Remove them just before frost, cut off the tops of the plants (save the root system), store in the winter in a cool, dry location. Then plant again in the spring time in a soil rich with compost after all danger of frost is gone.

Build a Gatsby Garden and bring a beautiful and lavish look to your neighborhood this summer.

Tropical Plant Canna Orange and Yellow Flower

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Fall’s bountiful harvest

DSCF3100 Although we’ve had a few frosty nights here in Des Moines, IA, my veggie garden continues to produce prolifically. I took this shot of some of the home-grown bounty on my dining room table last evening. The center bowl contains a mix of baby lettuces and mesclun (Both were protected from frost in the garden by floating row covers.) and a couple mini cabbage heads–secondary heads that developed after the main crop head was harvested earlier this summer. I use them like large Brussels sprouts or as I would regular cabbage.

Surrounding the bowl (from the center foreground) are purple ‘Graffiti Hybrid’ cauliflower, ‘Golden’ beet, heirloom red tomatoes, Swiss chard, ‘Small Sugar’ and ‘Long Island Cheese’ pumpkins, collard greens, ‘Red Cored Chantenay’ carrots, ‘Soldier’ beet, and ‘Furry Yellow Hog’ tomato, another heirloom variety.

Shortly after I took this photo, I enjoyed a tasty dinner that included a lettuce-mesclun salad with chopped tomatoes and carrots. Some of the other veggies will make it to the Thanksgiving table–either in the form of a side dish or as part of the centerpiece. They’re so colorful that they’re a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach. For more ideas on beautiful vegetable varieties to grow, see our slide show on growing colorful vegetables.

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