Exotic evergreen doers.
There's an essential part of the exotic garden that are overlooked, and they are the evergreen shrubs and small trees. These humble "in the background" plants are essential if we are to have something exotic and interesting to look at in the winter when all the summer divas are dormant. Some are common garden plants, whereas some are a little more exotic. Lets take a look at some.
Fatsia japonica is rather ubiquitous, but nevertheless pretty much essential to the exotic garden due to it being almost bomb-proof. It can live in sun or shade but certainly looks better in the shade. It's dark green glossy leaves look good all year round. As do the leaves of its relative; Fatisa polycarpa.
As well as being evergreen they are both completely hardy in most of the UK.
Another truly exotic looking evergreen plant is the Hardy Umbrella tree. I have several different small specimens planted out in the garden with Schefflera rhododendrifolia being one of the most robust ones. When young, the juvenile leaves can be all sorts of weird and wacky shapes. When more mature they grow the more usual and still spectacular umbrella-like leaves. They can be temperamental when young as the roots seem sensitive to high temperatures, especially in a pot. Once in the ground and established they grow away pretty well. Some only grow it 1.5m tall whereas other grow up into proper trees several metres tall.
Bamboos strike fear into many gardeners with their reputation for running and devastating lawns and flower beds. This is potentially true for many species and forms but there are some clumping varieties that actually do stay as a clump. Fargesias and Borindas are good candidates. They are also evergreen and look magical in winter, even with a dusting of snow.
Here's one of my favourites; Borinda 1046.
Just look at those blue culms...
What is an exotic garden without palm trees? Well I don't think you can have a UK exotic garden without them! The good news is that they are all evergreen and most are slow growing to appear as a shrub or small tree for many years. Some eventually gaining a great height. One of my favourites is the hardiest feather palm around, Jubaea chilensis.
I've had this Jubaea for around 10 years now with 7 of them in the ground. It's coped with gales force winds, rain and the occasional snow and still looks good all year round. Eventually, after many decades it'll grow into a huge tree.
There are much more modest-looking palms that are just as tough such as the European Fan Palms. Here's C vulcano
And here's the European Blue fan palm, C cerifera.
Then there's the truly blue fan palm Brahea armata from Mexico which shows some remarkable resilience to the cold providing it doesn't sit in cold heavy soil in winter.
They really don't mind a bit of cold...
There's lots and lots of other hardy evergreen exotics I could show you and discuss, but I'll leave it there for now. Which are your must have evergreen exotics?