Posted: 29/03/2013 at 10:43
Thats right Fairygirl: shelter and drainage are key. I have a mixed evergreen hedge around my garden to folter the prevailing wind. The musa, ensete, canna and strelitizia do fine in summer but are all put in the garage overwinter. I tried to overwinter palms outside but even with 2 tons of grit it was still too wet and I live in a microclimate where it rarely gets below freezing. Phormiums, Yucca and other hardy exotics like Fatsia do well.
I like discodaves idea of giant grasses. Miscanthus do well in the UK - Miscathus gigantica, for example, can grow jungle like in 12 months.