How I Created a Tropical Style Garden on the Canadian Prairie

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I'm a tropical girl.  And as a tropical girl, I must have a tropical garden, surrounding a 1-story plantation-style house, in Hawai'i.  Of course.

Well, I don't live in Hawai'i, my house is a 2-story Tudor style stucco'd monstrosity, and I'm in the Great White North that is Zone 3.  That Canadian city that in 2013 was reported to be colder than the surface of Mars?  Yeah, that's this place.

Anyone in their right mind would say "screw it", throw their garden dreams out the window, and plant daisies, tall prairie grass, and purple coneflowers as far as the eye can see... or at least until the edge of their property line.

However, since I'm EXTREMELY stubborn, and not entirely in my right mind, I didn't do any of that.
Instead, ...

Characteristics of a Tropical Garden

... I scoured through some of my old photos from my grandmother's home in The Philippines as well as from the time that I lived in Hawai'i, looking for things that made the background flora different.  Common traits became obvious...

1:  Large leaves
- We don't have the climate for palm trees.  But we have the climate for other larger leaved plants... the larger the leaves, the better.

2:  Large, brightly coloured flowers
- We're talking flowers similar to roses.  Large roundish petals.  Wavy petals.  The showier and more brazen the flowers, the better.  Yes, brazen -- have you seen Bearded Irises?  Hello, slutty flower.
Avoid daisies and the like.  They are too pure and innocent.

3:  Spiky leaves, ferns, and grasses
- When flowers die off, the tropical garden maintains excitement in a different, less suggestive way.  Textures and contrasts on the greenery left behind is just as interesting.

4:  Variegated leaves
- Just step into any gardening store and you'll find a surprising variety of plants with beautiful colours in stripes, streaks, and patches.  My favourite is yellow-green... almost neon.  I also have 3 purple leaved plants in the very front whose name I don't remember, but they're a beautiful contrast to the green.

5:  Dense foliage
- The plants are packed close together.  Super crowded and lush.

Choosing Plants

Next, I consulted the magic knowledge box Google and searched for plants that fit the above description and...

1) Were perennials in Zone 3.
- Annuals need to be shopped for at the beginning of the growing season, and cleaned up or brought into the home afterward.  I don't want to have to spend any money if I don't have to.
Plants magically appear in the Spring?!  Fine by me!  Yay, perennials!

2)  Could thrive in partial shade.

- The 2-story Tudor style stucco'd monstrosity that is my home casts a big shadow on my poor north-facing gardens for a good portion of the day.

3)  Were able to handle dryness.
- I'm a low-maintenance kind of gal.  Sometimes I don't get around to watering.  I've come to accept that.

I found all the plants I needed!  And now my gardening is so simple.

North West Garden

Plants I Used in My Garden

1:  Large leaves...
- Bergenia, Hosta (various)

2:  Large brightly coloured flowers...
- Peony, Daylilies (various), Irises

3:  Spiky leaves and grasses
- Ferns, Irises, Daylilies (various)

4:  Variegated leaves
- Hosta (various), Lemony Lace Elderberry (the yellow-green bush), unnamed purple-leaved plant.

My Garden History

Because sometimes you need to look like a disaster first, here's a peek into what my garden looked like over the years...
I Heart My Frontyard Garden
I Heart My Frontyard Garden June 2008
More Confessions of a Happy Girl 

As you can see, you don't need tropical plants or a tropical climate to have a tropical garden.
Okay, so it's not Hawai'i or the Philippines, but it actually makes me feel like I'm there.
Try it yourself, and share your pics in the comments if you do!

Swish Swish Bish

I dance hiphop, but I'm also in my late 40s.  I could seriously hurt myself.  But I love this choreo by Kyle Hanagami, and I'd love to move like this!  I'm working at it...
I'm fascinated by the difference between how men and women dance the same choreography.

And I love Katy...


10th Annual Freebie Top 5: Who's on YOUR list?

It's that time of year again! Yes, it's the 5th day of the 5th month of the year, and it's time for our...

Freebie Top 5 List 2017

If you're new here and are wondering "wtf is a freebie list?", it's "A list of 5 celebrities who, should the opportunity arise, one is allowed to sleep with without it being considered as cheating by your significant other." (Urban Dictionary)

And yes, we do this every year -- as you can see here and from here.  We have to.  Some guys get weird or creepy and have to be removed.  Others pull a McDreamy, and the list is SCREAMING for you to add them.  You just never know.  So we review the list annually.  It's really the responsible thing to do.  It's only fair.

Okay, when making your list, the Number One Rule is There Are No Rules.  Actually, that's a lie.  There are 5 rules...

1: Remember that this is all in fun. You cannot use "Nenette said it was okay" as your defense when you get arrested for breaking into Channing Tatum, Beyonce, or Arnold Schwarzenegger's house or anything like that.  I did not say it was okay. I love y'all but you're on your own.
2: Stick to 5. Any more would be greedy, and I'm all about the sharing.
3: Keep it to current humans -- as in 'alive and at their present age'. You shouldn't need a time machine to do the nasty with them. (Do you hear me, Sylvia?!)
4: Speaking of "the nasty", THAT IS ALL.  Just sex.  No relationships. Nothing serious. Think a secluded tropical getaway, a steamy night in a hotel, even a hot quickie in a dark alley.  In case there's any confusion, see #1.
5: Think long and hard about this! This is your list FOR THE YEAR. Pretend it's laminated.

Drop your freebie list in the comments here on or on my Facebook page.

Okay, here's mine...

1:  Gerard Butler
Will he ever be out of my list?  Likely not.  There's just something about this guy.
Lainey once said he doesn't seem to know how to wear pants, but if your body was designed to wear a kilt, is that even an issue?  Really?!
I still can't watch his films.  I like to stick to his interviews because he's funnier and sweeter.  In a movie role, his lack of accent throws me off, then I think "Oh, hey, it's Gerry pretending to be a Secret Service Agent", and eventually, I tune out... until he takes off his shirt.

2:  Keanu Reeves
Why have I never put this man on my list?!  Okay, I know this list is all about "the nasty", but there's so much to this guy.  He's tall, dark, and handsome, the strong-silent type, a bassist with a rock band (like me!), an accomplished actor/producer, spiritual, lives simply, and he's Canadian.  His mom also taught him English manners.
And because he's in his 50s, I don't feel quite so cradle-robby.
Hey, he was filming here.  Does anyone know if he's still in town?  Just asking.  For a friend.

3:  Benedict Cumberbatch
Tall, dark, handsome, with an accent and a natural photobomber talent.  The accent, the intensity, the voice that makes you feel like you're wrapped up in chocolate.  Dark chocolate with nuts.  Almonds.  Yes, dark chocolate covered almonds.

4:  Adrian Grenier
I've never watched The Entourage so I don't know much, but I did watch him in that teen flick with Melissa Joan Hart.  And that's all.  So this one is purely physical.  I've always loved the tall, dark, and handsome -- with light eyes.  It's so sexy.  The fact that this is the look of almost every hero of the erotic romance novels I read has nothing to do with it.
Nope, not at all.

5:  Victor Webster
I loved him in Charmed, and really, he's aged quite nicely.  He's tall, handsome, and Canadian who's also a Martial Arts master.  He's funny, affectionate, a loyal friend, and has a great photographic eye.  And let's face it, I'm a sucker for a scruffy guy.
Of all the guys on my list, I'm willing to bet he smells the most like sandalwood.  Yes, that still matters.  A lot.  A really lot.

Now, your turn... and GO!
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