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RI Flower Show Included Tropical Garden

RI Flower Show included tropical garden.

A couple of weeks ago I spent an enjoyable afternoon at the Rhode Island Flower Show in Providence.

Two landscape designs caught my attention.

The URI College of Pharmacy designed the exhibit called “Spring in the Scottish Highlands.” Its design created a beautiful flow of green, with a single red hat perched on a fence pole to offer a bit of contrast. [below] No surprise that the exhibit won an award for second place.

Scottish Exhibit by the URI College of Pharmacy, Kingston, RI

The exhibit called “A party at the tiki bar” reminded me of the nineteenth century summer Victorian garden of tropical plants like palms, banana, dracaena, and bromeliad.

Cityscapes from downtown Boston designed the exhibit. [below]

Tropicals xxx
Tropical exhibit by Cityscapes, Boston

The author of The Victorian Flower Garden Jennifer Davis said that England had its very own tropical movement in the second half of the nineteenth century. She writes, “Tropical plants were removed in early summer from the confines of the glasshouse and planted out into open ground.  They occupied beds or were placed singly with the pot plunged into turf.”

In this exhibit I saw a collection of tropical plants that formed a glorious garden for a New England summer.

This tropical movement in Victorian England became a reaction against the bedding-out of annuals with the strong, but flat and monotonous use of color, mostly on the lawn.

In 1878 New York seedsman James Vick wrote in his magazine Vick’s Illustrated Monthly, “This class of plants is becoming very popular, and are used in what is known as sub-tropical gardening, that is, gardens furnished with plants of a tropical, or sub-tropical, origin such as Century Plant, Agaves, Cannas, Caladiums, Ricinus, Yucca, etc.”

Once again we see an example of fashion in gardening. Perhaps this summer we’ll see more tropical gardens in New England.

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