Garden Photo of the Day

Bill’s tropical garden in Ohio

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Bill Albert

Today’s photos are from Bill Albert in Waterville, Ohio. That’s right, Ohio…. Sure doesn’t look like it! Bill says, “This is my garden in Waterville, Ohio. It was started from a lawn and nothing else. All the hardscaping was constructed by me. The yard is in full sun. The patios were given a southwestern environment, succulents, cactus, ornamental grasses. I then wondered what could be done in the plain lawn that I looked out on. Let’s try tropical!

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Bill Albert

“The first year, I planted one banana plant, Musa basjoo (USDA Hardiness Zones 8-11). It did well. As I was instructed, at end of the summer it was cut to the ground and covered with four feet of leaves. Uncoverng the bed the following spring, sprouts showed up. I was elated.

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Bill Albert

“Other warm climate plants soon followed: Canna, hibiscus, croton, colocasia, coleus, castor bean, amaranthus, begonia, princess lily, tibouchina among them. In the years that followed, beds were added. A gazebo was built. The prominent torii was built as a memorial to my donor. For many years I had declining health due to an auto-immune liver disorder. In July 2010, I received a most precious gift that saved my life.

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Bill Albert

“The garden blooms all season, After the first hard frost, the bananas are cut down and covered. Cannas, colocasias, and others are dug up. The potted plants are drastically pruned and brought inside. I have had some encouraging results by leaving some cannas in situ, covering them with leaves with the bananas.

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Bill Albert

“The yard has attracted some attention from the area garden associations asking for tours. All leave very amused and somewhat awed.”

Well I’m awed, too, Bill! When I first opened your email I thought you were in Florida! Amazing. Thanks so much for sharing!

Happy New Year’s Eve, everyone!!

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Bill Albert
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Bill Albert
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Bill Albert
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Bill Albert
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Bill Albert
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Bill Albert
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Bill Albert

***Hey all–I’m happy to get people connected through email, but I want to do it carefully. Email me and let me know who you’re giving me permission to send your email address to, and I’ll make it happen, hopefully without too much confusion!

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View Comments


  1. trashywoman62 12/31/2012

    Holy Cow, Bill! I can only imagine what people must FEEL like when they step into your garden! And in Ohio, says the gardener from Illinois!

    Ok, deep breath,... I love the copper pipe used to hang plants; the unique detail on the cedar arbor along with the attached pots on the chunks of wood next to it; those Huge banana trees...breath, breath...they are to die for, how tall are they?; the abundance of cannas really give the garden a tropical air; I see some tiki torches scattered throughout, I bet the glow is beautiful at night. I am just amazed!

    And what a wonderful memorial to your donor. Your Torii is lovely. What is the fan-shaped object on top?

    Ok, I'll stop now. Thanks so much for sharing on this cold, January morning!

  2. wGardens 12/31/2012

    This is amazing. Congratulations on your diligence- and- your improved health! Yes! I think garden tours are definately in order. Best Wishes to you.

  3. greenthumblonde 12/31/2012

    Nice work Bill. I too am from Ohio and every year I plant a banana. I've been using a variety with a black spotted leaf. I never thought I could actually get it to live through winter though. This spring when I plant my annual banana I'm going to look at it differently. I will consider it a perennial. And the following spring when it miraculously lives, I will think of Bill from Ohio who miraculously lived. Happy New Year.

  4. User avater
    meander_michaele 12/31/2012

    Just simply amazing, Bill, you have totally achieved your goal! It has to be very gratifying to discover which plants will allow you to push the envelope of the hardiness zone with the right winter prep techniques. I would definitely want to be first in line when your garden is open for public enjoyment.

  5. seemor3d 12/31/2012

    As drought stricken as we were this past summer. Only the potted plants required more watering. The more impressive bananas, cannas, and hibiscus received minimal irrigation.

    I bought three bananas. They have populated to over eighty last May when I uncovered them.The bananas grow 12 to 14 feet, the Arundo donax variegata also can grow that tall.

    The wooden pergola design used Greene and Greene architectural elements. The fan shape is parting the clouds and the mountains. There is a glass globe that the sunlight from due south passes through. Gold painted coper wires emulate the rays of light.

    It is the first I see when I open the drapes at the beginning of each day.

  6. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 12/31/2012

    Thanks for sharing your garden and your encouraging story and the blessing you received in your new liver! That is awesome. Cool garden. I admire all the work you do, digging and storing tubers and moving plants in and out. As much as I love cannas and colocasias, I just am too lazy to dig and replant! I don't give my musa basjoo any extra care here in Columbus, which is a bit south of you, but I bet you have more reliable snow cover. I just let them freeze and mulch themselves, and so far they keep coming back.

  7. Beazel 12/31/2012

    What a delight, after waking to snow-covered everything, to start my morning in your lush tropical garden. The results of your labor of love--color, texture, scale--are just amazing and I'm so glad you've shared it with us.

  8. sheila_schultz 12/31/2012

    Your joy for life surfaces everywhere in your tropical gardens. They are amazing, as are you.

    May the New Year bring everyone peace and happiness... plus a few unexpected blooms in your gardens!

  9. tractor1 12/31/2012

    Bill, you've accomplished a lot, a lovely garden but more importantly good health... and on that note I'll wish everyone a Happy & Healthy New Year.

  10. pattyspencer 12/31/2012

    I'm amazed at everything you've accomplished - lots and lots of work goes into your garden every season - putting in - taking out. What a great thing to honor your donor!!! Yep I'd come see you if I lived in your area for a garden tour!

  11. pattyspencer 12/31/2012

    Happy New Year everyone! May 2013 be a great year for you all!

  12. cwheat000 01/01/2013

    Really, Ohio? Your love for your garden shows. Have a happy and healthy New Year everyone.

  13. ceres 01/01/2013

    Bill, your garden is beautiful. I am excited about your sucess in overwintering banana in the ground. I have overwintered varigated Arundo donex in the ground for about 7 years and mine also gets huge. I will try leaving a banana in the ground next fall.
    Congratulations on your new life. I have a friend who was one of the first to receive a heart transplant and he celebrates 2 birthdays each year. His and his donors.

  14. ceres 01/03/2013

    Bill, I forgot to state I am gardening in Iowa.

  15. seemor3d 01/03/2013

    I live in Zone 6. I leave my variegated Aundo Donax up through the Winter. It gets cut down in late April. It is in full sun and flourishes. I do this with all of my grasses.

    I'll know if the Cannas that I left in the beds in April survive. I tried Colocasias once, covering them up more than even the bananas. They did not survive. Their bulbs being too close to the surface, I believe.

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