Long live Exotic Gardening
05 July 2014 - by Lizzy Browne

If the winter before last began to ring the death knell for Exotic gardening,  will 2010/11, with its deadly temperatures of minus 17 degrees in parts of  Norfolk (and worse elsewhere), be the final nail in the coffin? Not  likely.

Few individuals will have the stomach or deep enough pockets to  replace all their losses this year nobody can guarantee us that we wont  suffer another severe winter next year. But that doesnt mean to say that we  have to accept defeat and start gardening like our grandparents.

As we  return to our gardens this spring, lets stand back, take a deep breath and  remember just what were trying to achieve in our gardens. The essence of Exotic  Gardening isnt about what rare, individual species we grow, fun though this  aspect of Exotic Gardening is. No, lets look at the bigger picture and remember  Exotic Gardening is about using plants and other features to Evoke an Exotic  Landscape.

By returning to what had recently seemed like old fashioned  methods of protecting plants in winter, using hardier plants in inventive  combinations and learning pruning techniques to alter the natural shapes of more  common trees and shrubs (think pollarding, skirt lifting, Bonsai/Niwaki), well  continue to be able to transform our gardens from bog standard into rather  unique and special places.

This winter has to be accepted as part of the  evolution of Exotic Gardening in the UK. Many plants that we thought of as  forming the backbone of the Exotic Garden have succumbed. At Urban Jungle were  mourning the loss of many specimens in our borders, some we planted in our first  year here. There are some big gaps - but we wont be filling them with  Buddleias!

Spring, monstrous Rheum leaf emerging.

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