Posted: 25/07/2013 at 15:05
Albizia julibrissin and Acanthus, especially the spiky ones spring to my mind. Eriobotrya japonica, Magnolia grandiflora, Pistacia chinensis and Acca sellowiana also have the look and feel of the subtropics.
Albizia has been growing happily in my garden (well, this garden) for about 5 years now and we get winter temps around -20 here in the Netherlands. I do have sandy soil. In those five years it's canopy has grown to 2m in diameter
For groundcover maybe Coprosma prostrata, Coprosma rugosa 'Red Rocks', Leptinella potentilliana or Leptinella squalida.
Also think that some multi-stemmed trees ( Aralia, Koelreuteria) would look natural in such an environment. Maybe even Metrosideros excelsa would survive. Oh, and the beauuuutiful Duranta repens and some Aristolochia species as well....I'm sorry, am rambling away.It's such an inspiring project and I'm a bit jealous even, there are lots of these I'd love to grow but can't. Please, post some photos when the garden is ready. I wish you good luck and happy gardening!!