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Member Garden Tour: Rita’s Tropical Backyard Paradise

Member Garden Tour

The power of gardens can be difficult to quantify, although we know a great garden when we see it. But what is it that makes a garden great? Is it unique plants, art and furniture, or landscape design? This all contributes to a beautiful garden, but it often comes down to the personal

touch of the gardener that really makes a garden stand out.

In Rita’s case, the garden transports her family to their favorite vacation spot – Hawaii. Located in a suburban neighborhood in Lake Oswego on a little over a 1/4 acre, the garden bursts with tropical color and lush foliage. The backyard patio has plenty of seating to relax with friends and family and is the perfect setting for their annual Luau party.

Rita making the most of these beautiful spring days out in the garden!

As an HPSO member, Rita opens her garden for visits as part of the Open Gardens Program. HPSO members, log in to start planning your 2022 garden visits!

A Garden with a Story

Rita loves repurposing and reusing materials from her home in the garden, giving everything a personal touch. Each object evokes memories of family vacation and gardens she’s toured.

tropical garden design

It’s easy to see why the hummingbirds love this spot!

There are several seating areas around the garden, each with their own name. The ‘Hummingbird Haven’ is a spot near the front door that’s filled with bright red fuchsias and flowers that attract hummingbirds in droves. The ‘Bedroom’ is a perfect spot for lounging and watching the stars and is complete with bedroom furniture from the house.

tropical garden design

Even kitty gets to safely enjoy the outdoors in the custom built ‘catio’!

Many memories are more recent. Last year’s 116+ degree heatwave melted the candles throughout the garden, but Rita left them out as a reminder of the story of 2021.

It wasn’t just plants that were affected by the 2021 heatwave! The candles melted and flopped as well.

This simple mass planting of grasses along a path gives the feeling that you’re immersed in the garden

Plants for a Tropical Garden Design

Bright colors dominate the garden, but it’s not all about flowers. Stunning foliage from bananas, cannas, and coleus transport you to the jungle. Dahlias, rudbeckia, fuchsias, and salvia are repeated throughout to complete the tropical feel. Rita’s beloved collection of hibiscus struggled a bit in last year’s heatwave, but the flowers are the perfect touch for a Hawaiian-inspired garden.

tropical garden design

tropical garden design

Huge palms give height to the garden and complete the transformation, while a 12-year-old stand of bamboo towers over the patio.

tropical garden design

tropical garden design

Who needs flowers when you’ve got foliage like this?!

Member garden tour

The Challenges of a Small Garden

Rita’s garden is everchanging, and not always by her own choice. When neighbors install new fences, or take down trees, or make renovations, her garden changes. A once shady spot could be suddenly thrust into full sun after a tree falls down, or plants may need to be moved to cover up gaps. But after over 20 years in this garden, Rita takes these changes in stride and considers them new opportunities to update her garden.

tropical garden design

A larger-than-life birdcage sits atop a pedestal and gives the impression that the surrounding jungle has taken over.

Making use of the Views Beyond the Garden

Beyond the garden gate is the green belt, making the garden feel larger

Although Rita’s garden may be small, the space feels as if you could it explore it for hours. Paths turn corners, inviting you to see what’s around the bend. The backyard garden backs up to a city green belt, so trees and native woodland stretch far beyond.

Large-leaved podophyllum fill a shady corner

Hostas, fatsia and bamboo are a perfect tropical-inspired combination

Thank you, Rita, for sharing your garden with us!

As warmer days and better weather approach, more and more HPSO members are opening their gardens. If you’d like to view gardens that are open, please log in to the Member Center and review the Open Gardens Directory.

Not an HPSO member? You can learn more about the benefits of membership by clicking here!

Photos and post provided by HPSO member Hayden Brown.

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