Jungle Planting is a style which is pure theatre and one where there is no such thing as restraint. A successful Jungle has to be exuberant and lush.
Firstly make sure the soil is free draining with loads of compost and manure. Jungle plants need a lot of ‘fuel’ to grow. It is also a good idea to mulch well with bark chips to help conserve moisture.
· Keep planting really dense. Pack them in.
· Use bold leaf shapes and architectural plants.
· Remember to layer the planting from ground cover up to large shrubs or trees.
The trick is to use plants which give the impression of being tropical and tender but which, in reality, are hardy. Things like Fatsia japonica, Rodgersia, the palm Trachycarpus fortuneii and Phormiums are a good place to start. Bamboo looks wonderful. Some of the big ornamental grasses such as Miscanthus sinensis ‘Zebrinus’ or M. ‘Giganteus’ also work well.
There are some semi hardy plants which can create superb effects, but you must bear in mind that they may need winter protection, such as Tree Ferns and Agave americana. It is a common misconception that cold kills most slightly tender plants. Wet is the main reason for most deaths. It is really important to make sure that plants do not sit in soggy soil, unless of course they are bog plants!
It may come as a surprise but the banana Musa basjoo is root hardy. It can be grown in two ways. Either wrap the trunks each winter or leave it unprotected. If left, all the top growth with die back and it will sprout huge leaves from the ground each spring.
In a boggy garden try Papyrus cyperus and Gunnera and you can imagine yourself on the banks of the River Nile.
Unlike most other planting styles a Jungle garden does not put huge importance on flowers. The predominant colour will be green. Those flowers that do exist will tend to be large and brightly coloured. The flowers of Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’, Cannas and Hedychium coccineum ‘Tara’ are spectacular.
Just remember three final points:
· You are directing a theatrical production – be dramatic.
· Have fun and experiment. Most pot plants are tropical so put them in the garden for the summer.
· Don’t forget to feed the tigers.