Garden Photo of the Day

Making a Jungle in the North

Revisiting an unusual tropical-themed garden

Michael Passarello shared his garden in North Stamford, Connecticut, with us last week, and he happily sent in some more photos for us to enjoy today.

Michael is a garden writer, designer, and photographer who has created a low-water, low-maintenance, deerproof garden emphasizing texture and color. His garden is divided into three areas: There is an open sunny hill and a shady Zen garden path opening to a decked-dining-and-greenhouse area.

Incorporating succulents and palms for the summer, Michael’s garden is a reflection of my gardens in the California Wine Country and the Texas Gulf Coast. Selecting plants with low-water needs allows the garden to be left alone for periods of time. Deer-resistant plants eliminate the need for spraying or fencing. The tender plants are overwintered in the greenhouse.

Colorful pots of Euphorbia tiruncali ‘Sticks on Fire’ (Zones 11–12) are in the foreground, with a palm (Trachycarpus princeps, Zones 9–11) and a pink-flowered Euphorbia milli ‘Thai Hybrid’ (Zones 9–11) in the background.


A row of Agave attentuata (Zones 10–12) is backed by Yucca filamentosa ‘Color Guard’ (Zones 5–10) and flowering Cleome ‘Senorita Rosalita’ (Zones 9–10 or as an annual).


Assorted air plants (Tillandsia sp.) grow on a trellis.


A variegated agave is in the front, with Yucca filimentosa ‘Golden Sword’ (Zones 5–10) in the back.


A giant elephant ear (Alocasia macrorrhizos, Zones 9–11) brings huge, tropical leaves to this area.


Spineless yucca (Yucca elephantipes, Zones 9–10) is commonly used as a houseplant, but it makes a great statement in this bed above trailing moss phlox (Phlox subulata, Zones 2–8) and variegated heartleaf ice plant (Apenia cordifolia ‘Crystal’, Zones 10–11).


The long, narrow leaves of Agave geminiflora (Zones 9–11) almost look like an ornamental grass in the back of this bed. Dark foliage from Cryptobergia ‘Rubra’ (Zones 9–11) and black mondo grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’, Zones 6–11) contrast beautifully with brightly colored Euphorbia tiruncali ‘Sticks on Fire’ (Zones 11–12) in the foreground.


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  1. User avater
    meander_michaele 10/16/2018

    Your garden aesthetic is truly special, Michael, and I'm delighted you are making an encore return with pictures of it. I love seeing the colorful pots holding the generous tangle of 'Sticks on Fire' cool. The grouping in the final photo is particularly appealing to be because of the addition of the dark foliaged Cryptobergia ‘Rubra’ and black mondo grass...they really make the other plants pop.

    1. MichaelCT 10/17/2018

      Thanks ,,,
      I like to use different textures in addition to color . the pots were old terracotta pots that I painted with $4 worth of paint to contrast with the yellow color of the plants .
      everything was moved indoors

  2. btucker9675 10/16/2018

    This garden just bursts with personality!

  3. Chris_N 10/16/2018

    Everything looks so lush. Love the Tillandsias. I'm jealous of your greenhouse.

  4. [email protected] 10/16/2018

    Love the trellis with the Tillandsias. Very original way to grow them. Lots of inspiration- thanks!

    1. MichaelCT 10/17/2018


      I make them from the fallen trees and branches on the property ,, I can just hang them on there for the summer and use them as privacy screens .. easy to maintain and then I just move them indoors for the winter.

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