Garden Photo of the Day

Recreating the Tropics Farther North

My name is Eddie Walker. I started back in 2004 with a flat piece of land that was used for farming. I live in South Mills, North Carolina, just 45 minutes inland from the Outer Banks and in Zone 8a most years. My passion is gardening. I’ve always loved the warm weather and tropical designs that I had seen in Florida and farther south, and I am the owner of Walker’s Palms and Desert Plants. There has always been skepticism about growing palm trees this far north, but with the right selection of species it is possible to have that tropical-looking landscape in your own backyard! Gardening can be relaxing to the mind and soul and has been very helpful to me.

A formal line of trees leads up to the house, not hinting at the tropical splendors waiting ahead.

A hardy, lovely looking palm tree. This is Chinese windmill palm (Trachycarpus fortunei, Zones 8–11) and works wonderfully to bring a tropical look to nontropical climates.

Despite the tropical look, it does get cold and snowy in this garden! But the palms can survive anyway.

A beautiful pool surrounded by lush tropical plantings.

The bold leaves of fatsia (Fatsia japonica, Zones 8–10) contrast with the finer textured leaves around it.

A beautiful water feature flanked by two enormous sego palms (Cycas revoluta, Zones 8–11). Sego palms aren’t true palms but are actually a kind of cycad, an ancient group of plants. Their bold, dark green, frondlike leaves look wonderful here.

When you create a tropical garden, you need a tiki-themed seating area!

A wide view of the garden, showing the rich diversity of plants and places to relax and enjoy the beauty. Toward the center of the shot, notice a huge agave plant sending up a truly enormous flower spike. Agaves die after flowering, but what a dramatic way to go!

What a magical spot. Who wouldn’t want to lie back in that hammock, look out at the garden, and listen to the water feature?


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  1. User avater
    meander_michaele 03/06/2019

    What a fascinating and magical utopia you have created, Eddie, with your passion for tropical plants. Obviously, the palms and large leafed beauties like elephant ears, cannas and banana plants set the mood but your interesting structures contribute a lot to the over ambiance of a resort getaway in a very warm climate. Congrats on making your dreams a reality.

  2. WalkersPalms 03/06/2019

    Thank you very much for the kind words. It's a chore but a relaxing pleasure at the same time. I try to create a new garden every year and push the limits, but sometimes make a mistake and push too hard!

  3. LauraJaneS 03/06/2019

    Crikey! That is quite a set up. You must have to put in a lot of hours to keep on top of it. Beautiful!

    1. WalkersPalms 03/06/2019

      Thank you. As long as I stay on top of the maintenance it's not a chore.

  4. cheryl_c 03/06/2019

    Eddie, thank you so much for sharing your colorful pictures of your tropical paradise! I can hear the water flowing from your water feature! Everything combines to make a truly magical garden. Best wishes as you continue with new gardens yearly!

  5. Musette1 03/06/2019

    what an amazing garden! We're headed for MORE SNOW (zone 5) tomorrow, so it's nice to have a lovely tropical getaway today! And thanks for the agave tutorial (and it's gorgeous, btw)

    1. WalkersPalms 03/06/2019

      Thank you... I hate snow!!

  6. User avater
    simplesue 03/06/2019

    That's a pretty amazing piece of property! Love seeing the palms and how they endure the snow!

    1. WalkersPalms 03/06/2019

      Thank you!!

  7. User avater
    pattyeckels 03/06/2019

    Wow! Eddie, just beautiful. I'm surprised your agave made it through the snow. I'm in the Charleston, SC area and last winter with the hard frost, it did a number on my agave. But, it's coming back and I never want it to bloom! I love it! And all the babies it throws out! I dig them up and give them away. Now, get down here and finish my gardens! lol

    1. WalkersPalms 03/06/2019

      Thanks Patty. I did cover the less cold tolerant plants. Sometimes they don't make it but love to try to push our zone limit. The right placement makes a huge difference in survival rate.

  8. btucker9675 03/06/2019

    Wow!!! What a paradise and that agave is spectacular. And I confess to the sin of envy and covetousness for your pool...

  9. DebbieMountainMama 03/11/2019

    Oh my gosh, you would never need to leave to go on vacation - it's like a tropical vacation every day of the year - stunning!!

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