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How to Use Exotic Plants in Your Garden
If you want a garden that's really exciting to look at all year round, and stops visitors in their tracks, include some unusual looking plants. Exotic plants have strong architectural shapes, many are evergreen and all bring a distinctive look to your garden. There are plenty that are hardy, and many which are borderline in frost prone climates. Its up to you to decide whether you want to have plants which require cossetting in winter, wrapping in fleece or moving inside. Either use just a few as punctuation marks in your garden, or go for an overall exotic look, a mini jungle. The following wokrkshops might also be helpful: How to take advantage of microclimates; How to cope with hot, dry gardens; How to plan for year round interest.
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When choosing plants, don't think in terms of single specimens but what you plant next to each one. Identify each plant place in your planting hierarchy - Is it the top, mid or bottom layer? This will help achieve a lush look.
Plant more densely to get a jungly feel in your garden. Give trees and shrubs sufficient space to grow, but fill in with lower growing plants that can be removed as the larger ones grow bigger and fill out space.
Cultivation - give your choice of plants their ideal growing conditions and place them in the right spaces in your garden. Make soil more free draining by adding grit for desert natives; add leaf mould and compost for lusher foliaged subjects; give moisture lovers a damp spot.
Borderline hardy shrubs - try growing these against sunny South facing walls, either trained or free standing. The protection helps them survive, and radiated heat aids the wood ripening process.
Make a good mix of exotic looking plants. Include some with large leaves, spiky and sword shapes, and prickly plants.
Spiky and sword shaped plants always look arresting. Use them as focal points - on the brow of a curved border, at the intersection of paths. Repeat them in similar situations throughout your garden. Maintain their dominant status by surrounding them with low growing plants. Combining softer textured foliaged around spikes and sword shapes is a good contrast e.g. Stachys byzantina with Yuccas; Aceana with Phormiums. Prickly plants work well with spikes and contrast with larger leaved plants. Many have attractive seed heads, too - a bonus for late season and winter interest.
Group exotic plants together for full effect
Evergreen exotics add fantastic texture
Spiky plants have a dramatic appearance
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Other Design and Style Articles
   Adding a Japanese touch        Attracting birds to your garden
   Coping with hot, dry gardens        Dealing with exposed gardens
   Disguising eyesores        Ensuring year-round interest
   Gardening in a conservatory        Gardening in a v. small space
   Gardening on a roof top        Lighting in your garden
   Making a cottage garden        Making a family garden
   Making a rock garden        Making a wildlife garden
   Making a woodland garden        Plan a garden from scratch
   Planning a spring border        Planning a summer border
   Planning a winter border        Planning an autumn border
   Revamp an overgrown garden        Revamping a Patio
   Shaping a lawn        Simple topiary
   Using colour in your garden        Using exotic plants
   Using microclimates        Using objects in borders

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