City gardens are proving increasingly popular as urban space becomes limited. Landscaping a City Garden calls for something exotic and stylish, small enough to not crowd out a balcony or decking yet tough enough to tolerate being kept in a pot. Many plants cannot cope with such conditions but we note here a few ideas that will make excellent feature plants in city gardens.
Plants for Sunny City Gardens
For too long city gardens have been the near-exclusive preserve of the Yucca and Dracaena. Whilst such plants are eye-catching here are some hardy alternatives that are equally happy in the sun. Let’s begin with the tough Australia Grass Tree, the Xanthorrhoea genus. These are slow growing, perfectly suited to pot culture and a radical change from the standard city garden fare. Somewhat more easily available is the Ponytail palm, Beaucarnea recurvata, a tough relative of the lily. Slow growing and drought tolerant this will thrive as a pot plant. Look for Beaucarnea guatemalensis, a less common species with new leaves that emerge red when grown in the sun.
Plants for Semi-Shaded City Gardens
For semi-shaded decks and patios suitable plants include potted bananas and bamboos. In both cases there are a number of less common smaller ornamentals available which will do well in a pot if cared for. Probably the best medium-sized palms for landscaping a semi-shaded city garden are the Bamboo Palm, Chamaedorea microspadix, and the Sugar Cane Palm, Dypsis baronii. Both are much in demand and have excellent potential for city gardens. Another palm for semi-shaded city gardens that, whilst eventually growing to a considerable height, is the Kentia, Howea forsteriana. Fortunately the Kentia is quite slow growing and will take many years to outgrow a decent pot. The Cardboard ‘Fern’, Zamia furfuracea, is a small cycad that’ll happy be kept in a pot for many years and would not look out of place in the most exclusive of gardens.
Another departure from the norm for sunny deckings are two slow growing and very tough palms; the Mediterranean Fan Palm, Chamaerops humilis and the Dwarf Palmetto, Sabal minor. Both will – in 30 year or so – become too large for a decking but in the mean time you’ll have the pleasure of watching these tough grey beauties slowly mature (and eventually sell for a fortune). Another relatively slow growing palm when potted is the grey-red Triangle Palm, Dypsis decaryi. Under warm conditions this palm makes an attractive pot plant although it’ll require a little more care and attention than the two species above. The Pygmy Date Palm, Phoenix roebelenii, is a good plant for a pot provided you’ve sufficient space.
Finally, for sunny positions don’t forget cycads. Tough and hardy these make a bold feature in any city garden. Three genera we’d recommend you consider for sunny spots are:
Dioon. Blue/grey cycads which are mostly small to medium sized when grown in a pot.
Macrozamia. Relatively large cycads which may be somewhat constrained in a pot. You’ll need a large deck for these.
Encephalartos. Mostly large cycads which adore hot, sunny conditions. You will need a large deck and deep pockets however you’ll own one of the most stunning cycads known to man.
Plants for Heavily Shaded City Gardens
When it comes to palms for dark, shaded corners in a city garden we have three excellent suggestions. First the tough and stylish Lady Palm, Rhapis excelsa, which is a slow grower perfect for pot growth in a shady spot. Next there’s the Cascade Palm, Chamaedorea cataractarum, a gorgeous, clustering small palm with deep green fronds. Finally, the graceful Wedding Palm, Lytocaryum weddellianum, a lovely small palm that’ll succeed in a pot for many years.