My name is Joanne Lacroix, and my husband and I live in Cumberland, Ontario, in a rural area just outside of Canada’s capital, Ottawa. Our property sits on an area populated mostly by maple, oak, ironwood, and black walnut trees. Despite all the beautiful trees in our forest, we have limited soil, and our home is built on vast segments of bedrock. My gardening challenge in this Zone 5 location has been to grow plants in very limited soil and in mostly shady conditions.
About five years ago, after having visited a few tropical locations, we thought, why not create a tropical feeling in our very own backyard? Our backyard was largely unused and undeveloped at the time, and so we decided to build a structure that includes a tiki bar, a seating area with a fire table, and an outdoor BBQ zone.
My husband, Ron, designed this structure, and we built it from scratch from the ground up during our summer vacation. We also created a pathway with interlocking stone that connects to a patio we had already created. The “palm trees” that are seen in the photos are also a DIY project. We used wood from our forest, covered it with taped wrappings and a concrete paste, and then painted. They are topped off with artificial green stems that we purchased online.
To add to the tropical feeling of this outdoor living space, I have created various beds around the structure and the backyard with finishing toppings of mulch, river stone and stepping stones.
The plants are mostly perennials, such as this bleeding heart (Dicentra spectabilis, Zones 3–9).
Hostas and potted annuals and ferns bring more color and interest to the landscape.
An arbor welcomes you into this part of the garden.
Pops of color come from various potted plants and containers of annuals, such as this hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, Zones 9–11 or as annual).
Coleus (annual) adds more color to the landscape.
Not only does our little tropical oasis provide us with countless hours of fresh-air time during the spring, summer, and fall, but we also enjoy sitting at the fire table with blankets during the winter months. On cold winter days, just gazing outside and seeing the tropical structure reminds us that the warmth of spring and summer, and the gardening opportunities those seasons provide, are just around the corner.
Have a garden you’d like to share?
Have photos to share? We’d love to see your garden, a particular collection of plants you love, or a wonderful garden you had the chance to visit!
To submit, send 5-10 photos to [email protected] along with some information about the plants in the pictures and where you took the photos. We’d love to hear where you are located, how long you’ve been gardening, successes you are proud of, failures you learned from, hopes for the future, favorite plants, or funny stories from your garden.
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