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  • Writer's pictureDebi Holland

Tropical Plants and How to Love Them

'Tropical Plants and How to Love Them' is the exciting new book by Marianne Willburn that encourages the reader to explore the world of growing exotics when you do not live in a tropical climate. Tropical plants are native to the equatorial zone were it is consistently hot, humid and frost-free. Marianne introduces the concept of successfully growing these exotic plants in temperate areas above and below these zones where temperatures and day lengths fluctuate.

Hedcychium coccineum 'Tara' and Helenium 'Moerheim Beauty'

I attended a fascinating, spirited zoom talk by Marianne in February 2021 where she discussed the main themes of the book. She showed us how to create a tropical oasis in our own gardens; our very own summer holiday just outside our back doors. This visual treat introduced a sense of holiday and drama to gardens and embraced the idea of escapism and getting away.

The book is divided into five distinct categories which likens the bold, dramatic plants to relationships. Throughout the book the plant descriptions are illustrated by delightful little icons by Holly Neel which denote the category the plant in question falls in to, making individual plant care immediately recognisable to the reader. Marianne's vision for how these plants behave had me chuckling away as she describes needy high-maintenance plants and those that are worthy of the long-term commitment. Something we can all relate to!

The Summer Romance: a fleeting love affair but as summer draws to a close, so does your relationship with this tropical tease. Wave goodbye and move on.

The Long-Term Commitment: in for the long haul, these tropical plants will stick by you throughout the summer outside and winter inside.

The Best Friend: dependable. Plants that do not need any pampering to overwinter.

The High-Maintenance Partner: the impulsive buy. Those plants we adore but demand lots of our time.

Friends with Benefits: Not just aesthetically pleasing but these tropical plants provide medicinal benefits or are edible.

We discover how and why to grow tropical plants, what pests to be wary of, and are talked through finding our beloved plants homes both in the summer and over winter. There is a perception that tropical plants are expensive to buy so Marianne shows the reader how to easily propagate cuttings to create free plants and suggests growing on tubers and rhizomes such as sweet potatoes, ginger and turmeric, bought from your local grocery store or nursery, to get your journey into growing tropical plants kick started.

As well the plants being aesthetically beautiful in the garden many of the plants featured have a duel purpose as edibles. Recipes are shared and quirky garden project ideas like creating a Green Curry bed, a must for Thai cooking, provide inspiration for fun new areas in the garden.

Create a Green Curry bed for delicious Thai recipes

This book is packed full of practical advice and opulent photos which demystifies the veil of confusion of caring for these exotic plants. It would make anyone feel they could just give tropical plants a go.

The sumptuous pages immerse you in a tropical oasis, a kaleidoscope of colour that draws you in and will have you thumbing through the pages for hours. At 260mm x 210mm x 20mm and a little over 900 grams it is also a good size and weight to pick up, carry around and most importantly 'use' for practical advice and factual information.

'Tropical Plants and How to Love Them' is a source of inspiration that gives the reader confidence to try plants that they may not traditionally think they can grow in their local climate and illustrates how these bold exotics can be seamlessly integrated into our garden borders and containers. I know this will definitely be a book I will be constantly dipping into and out of.

Get creative, be bold and turn your backyard into a luscious tropical sanctuary.

Whether you chose to have a summer romance or a best friend, Marianne shows there is a plant to suit everybody's needs.

Author Marianne Willburn. Photo @ Marianne Willburn

You can find Marianne on Instagram @smalltowngardener and via her website:

Published by Cool Springs Press QuartoKnows | ISBN 978 0 7603 6894 7 | 208 pages

RRP £20.00 UK

Photos @ Debi Holland 2021

Taken from Marianne Willburn's book 'Tropical Plants and How to Love Them.'

Photo of Marianne @ Marianne Willburn 2021


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