When I'm handed a gift card to Lowe's, my imagination kicks into high gear. Lowe's Creative Ideas gave each of us regional gardening contributors $100 and challenged us to create something new for our gardens. What could be more thrilling? I love to spend money for my Gulf Coast garden! Extra money in my pocket motivated me to purchase the necessary materials to build a vertical "bromeliad tree."
Bromeliads provide uniquely colorful tropical texture to any Gulf Coast garden. I grow terrestrial bromeliads as excellent groundcovers. They multiply rapidly in the bright, filtered sunlight under mature oak trees.
There are also epiphytic bromeliads--they don't require soil to grow. Epiphytes receive nutrients and water from the air and rain. These characteristics make them suitable to attach to wood for a spectacular focal point in the garden.
Last year, while vacationing in the quaint coastal town of Apalachicola, Florida, I purchased a substantial piece of driftwood. It was a cypress tree (Taxodium distichum) "knee," hollowed-out, boasting dramatic architectural character. The moment I saw it I envisioned bromeliads mounted on it, forming a vertical "bromeliad tree."
One easy shopping spree to Lowe's supplied everything I lacked in materials, including attractive glazed pottery to hold the tree. The pottery's reddish-brown color ideally complements the striking red tones in Stromanthe sanguine 'Triostar' and caladiums growing in the background.
In order to "plant" my tree upright, I poured a sturdy foundation of cement for stability. I used a plastic pot, and when the cement was dry I placed it inside of the decorative container. Then it was a matter of attaching each bromeliad in a pleasing arrangement with double-pointed tacks and galvanized wire.
Located at the base of the cypress were two cupped-out "pockets" suitable for small plants. I tucked two anthuriums (herbaceous epiphytes) in them to create a lush effect at the bottom of the bromeliad arrangement.
My new exotic bromeliad tree fits in naturally and adds a prominent focal point to my side garden.
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