Garden Photo of the Day

A Jungle in New England

Tropical foliage gives this garden an unexpected and exciting look

Today’s photos come from Michael Passarello’s garden in North Stamford, Connecticut.

I am a gardener that has one of the most unusual gardens in Connecticut. I began it almost 20 years ago and planned it to be low water, easy to maintain, wildlife friendly, and, most importantly, unusual. I have palms, cacti, and uncommon plants that I have blended into a natural looking setting. No edged beds or pots of posies. It is a green, lush jungle. I have an extensive greenhouse collection of bromeliads, orchids, plumerias, and other tropical plants that I vacation outdoors in the summer.

I have never before shown the garden, and I think it is something different. I garden with no pesticides and incorporate natives.

Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides, Zones 8–12) is not actually a moss but rather a tiny bromeliad, in the same genus as air plants! Not commonly seen in New England, it can easily be grown as an annual or overwintered indoors in a sunny window and misted regularly.


Tender succulents, including a large flapjack plant (Kalanchoe thyrsiflora, Zones 10–12) bring a tropical flair to the garden. Growing them in containers set down in the soil makes it easy to bring them indoors for the winter. Check out these 10 outstanding succulents.


A view of the lush, jungly garden mixing native plants and tender tropicals in containers for a unique and exciting look.


Lush foliage is key to creating a junglelike atmosphere in the garden. Here bamboos, palms, and tropical-looking greenery make a magic scene that is a world away from what you would expect to see in a New England garden. Learn how to split bamboo here.


The leatherleaf mahonia (Mahonia bealei, Zones 7–9) has large, dramatic evergreen leaves. It has masses of yellow flowers in the spring, which are followed by these very ornamental blue berries. This species can be invasive in the warm climates of the southeastern United States, but it has not become a problem in the North.


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View Comments


  1. User avater
    meander_michaele 10/08/2018

    Kudos to you, Michael, for having such a distinct vision for your garden and bringing it to vibrant and lush life so beautifully. I never knew that Spanish moss could be treated in the way you described and you have used it to awesome effect. Thanks so much for sharing pictures with gpod. You really do have a unique and interesting New England garden.

    1. MichaelCT 10/17/2018

      thanks ,,, I have lived other places and there are plants that can be grown everywhere .. Spanish moss thrives on the summer heat and humidity here in CT. , and they does well in doors over the winter

  2. User avater
    treasuresmom 10/08/2018

    I am all in to a jungle look. Your garden is amazing. Share more when you can.

  3. katherine_8 10/08/2018

    Wow, Michael!! What a treat to see your garden. Very inviting, relaxing, lush, and unique. I love your idea of burying the large succulents in pots to make retrieval so much easier. Congratulations - excellent!! :)

    1. MichaelCT 10/17/2018

      The summers here are short and the soil it too cool to put things directly in to the soil , so I sink the pots in and then I can just lift them in the fall … Succulents are fine outdoors, but the cactus I keep indoors to prevent too much rain from getting them wet .

  4. Musette1 10/08/2018

    wow! what an amazing garden! I hope I don't sound snarky (not at all my intent) when I say that I would MUCH like to see where you overwinter them! Your house/sunroom/greenhouse/??? must be an even more jungly haven, come December!

    1. MichaelCT 10/17/2018

      they are all in the greenhouse now for the winter .. freeze tomorrow

  5. paiya 10/08/2018

    Your garden is so interesting and attractive - the aloes, kalanchoe, succulents,...provide contrast to the softer annuals and perennials. We are kindred spirits. My husband and I, having grown up in South Africa, also treasure these plants. In winter, our house (and basement) is filled like a jungle with aloes, agave, , bougainvillea, etc

    1. MichaelCT 10/17/2018

      South African plants also bloom indoors in the winter In my greenhouse when most other things are on hold. … I have a collection tree aloes that are my favorites but they are outgrowing my greenhouse

  6. Cenepk10 10/08/2018

    Love it ! Love lush gardens that look natural. Had no idea about the spanish moss. Love Mahonia too. I live in the South & they seem to pop up here on their own in the woods - so far - not like Kudzu. Hah !

  7. [email protected] 10/08/2018

    Thanks for sharing. It's great to see views of gardens, and how gardener's use different plants in different ways. I love seeing photos of beautiful flowers, but garden views are much more informative and inspiring! Already thinking of ways to use plants I have never considered before.

  8. Sunshine111 10/08/2018

    Thanks for the sneak peek Michael! I’d love to see your Plumeria an orchids sometime!

  9. btucker9675 10/08/2018


  10. User avater
    FrancesMHall 10/10/2018

    Really Amazing Jungle clicks.

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