Bryn Teg; a tropical heart in Wales

Dolly (Novlet Childs) GO at Bryn Teg

Dolly (Novlet Childs) in her garden Bryn Teg, Powys

Tropical plants are becoming increasingly popular in the UK with more and more National Garden Scheme gardeners choosing to showcase them in their planting schemes. With care and winter protection you can grow tropical plants outside with great success as the owner of the tiny garden at Bryn Teg in Newtown, Wales, Novlet Childs (Dolly) proves.

“I was born and grew up in Jamaica, West Indies where the landscape of mountains and rivers was dominated by a wide range of wildlife, shrubs, herbs and spices with an explosion of colourful intermingling flowers,” she explains. “I missed seeing all the tropical plants in their natural environment which gave me a sense of peace and tranquility especially at stressful times. So I used my skills and transferred this experience to create a similar environment in the garden at Bryn Teg to benefit my family and wildlife.”

Thirty years ago the garden was a neglected space, today it is transformed into an amazingly exotic secret Caribbean garden in the centre of Newtown, Powys. Visiting is like an exciting walk through the jungle. High above are banana leaves and colourful climbers. A winding path takes you on a journey through another land with the sounds of water filling the air while an explosion of colourful intermingling flowers and plants with giant leaves like paulownia, bamboos, tetrapanex add to the experience.

Dolly has recreated her own tropical jungle with a huge variety of plants on many levels of all shapes, sizes and colours. It’s little wonder that the garden at Bryn Teg has been hugely popular with the media. Filmed by Gardeners’ World and with a feature coming this summer in Country Living magazine be sure to book your tickets before they sell out.

Click here for more on Bryn Teg’s proposed open days in July

Top ten tropical plants to grow in the UK

1. Trachycarpus Fortunei (Chusan palm)
A lovely palm tree with a stout, fibrous trunk, and huge fan-shaped leaves. Keep it sheltered from harsh winds and protect the crown with straw in cold winter weather.

2. Chamaerops Humilis (Dwarf fan palm)
This is a shrubby palm brings a good architectural angle to tropical planting. They can be happily grown in a container or even as a houseplant in bright, indirect light.

3. Dryopteris Filix-Mas (Male fern)
This is a great variety of woodland fern, that is fully hardy and will survive everything except hot, direct sunlight. It can be used as underplanting of shrubs or as ground cover under trees.

4. Cordyline Australis (Cabbage palm)
A popular plant, like a palm but with singular leaves. It is a woody shrub but it can be made into a tree shape by cutting out the lower leaves. Protect with straw and horticultural fleece if the winter is very cold.

5. Hosta (Plantain lily)
A very flexible plant that is ideal for partial or full shade. It gives great ground cover and comes in a huge range of leaf variations. Must be kept well-watered.

6. Carex Comans (Bronze New Zealand hair sedge)
This is a hardy fine-leaved grass available in a range of colours, from green and white to rusty red. Used in drifts, it gives beds an ethereal effect as it moves in the wind, bringing a soothing soundtrack.

7. Athyrium (Lady fern) ‘Ghost’
A great shade plant with soft, silver foliage. Its colour helps to break up dense green planting and it tolerates dry conditions better than a lot of other ferns.

8. Dicksonia Antarctica (Soft-tree fern)
This soft tree fern originates from Australia. They are usually evergreen, but the leaves may die back in cold areas. Protect the crown with straw held in place with wire over winter.

9. Zantedeschia Aethiopica (Arum lily)
The striking white spathes contrast beautifully with the glossy green foliage. This will grow well in a Mediterranean style garden either in flower beds and borders or in a container. Mulch in autumn when it starts to fade.

10. Phormium Tenax (New Zealand flax)
A great strap-leaved plant that is evergreen and can grow to 4m tall and 2.5m wide. It originates from New Zealand and is hardy in most places throughout the UK.

This plant list was originally featured here

Another inspiring tropical garden that opens for the National Garden Scheme is 3 Oakhampton Road, Worcestershire – find out more about opening times here




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