My love of tropical and exotic plants stems from a day over ten years ago now, when as a design student, I attended a days workshop run by Will Giles at the Cotswold Wildlife Park to explore ways to use tropical plants in planting designs.
Will on the right in one of his trademark exotic shirts, with Tim Miles Head Gardner at Cotswold Wildlife Park
I later bought both of Will’s books which have been a great source of reference over the years and are now quite well thumbed, and I have twice visited his own garden…so it came as a great shock when I heard that Will had died earlier this month after a battle with cancer.
An illustrator by profession, his artistic background stood him in good stead when designing and creating his own exotic garden in the most unlikely of places, suburban Norwich!
Nestled behind an insurance office a stones throw from Norwich football ground, arriving in his garden one was instantly transported to another world.
Will used hardy plants to give his garden year round structure, employing tender annuals and tropical specimens to create an exotic fantasy garden.
Exotic specimens and ordinary garden favourites producing wild combinations!
The last time I visited the garden there was a new treehouse…
Inside the treehouse!
Will had also created a new Italianate loggia and exotic garden…
and new walls with whimsical details!
and headless and armless statues
Even Will’s cats were exotic…
with quirky names like “Little Man” and “Dweezle McSqueezle”!
For anyone like me with a love of exotic and tropical plants, Will’s garden was a must visit destination and well worth making the journey to Norfolk to see just what could grow in an English climate albeit with winter protection.
His garden, his expert advice, his planting combinations and his sense of fun in the garden have certainly inspired me and I am sure many others… he will be sadly missed.