The Q&A Archives: A Desparate Solution Is Needed....

Question: I have a situation where a beautiful old silver eucalyptus tree was killed due to constuction next door. A retaining wall was built next to the tree and the trees roots were damaged and the tree fell over into the yard.
I am looking for an instant solution to this sad story. I have about 30 ft to fill in this now existing open space where the eucalyptus once stood. I have a tropical theme going on around this 30 ft area with giant birds of paradise, tree ferns, etc... What can I put in this area to screen out my new neighbors, and what can be put into this area that would go with the rest of the tropical theme. There is a good amount of sun and the soil is probably between 8-11, Beverly Hills CA area.
Any help would be great! Thank you Valerie

Answer: How sad to have lost such a landmark! I think the best approach is to plant lots of wonderful new trees and shrubs as quickly as possible in place of the eucalyptus. There are a number of plants suitable for the area that will continue your tropical theme. Among them are Paulownia (empress tree), Tabebuia (trumpet tree), Erythrina (coral tree), Cyathea cooperi (Australian tree fern) Bauhinia (orchid tree), many palms, and Musa (banana). For understory, plant lush shrubs such as Cycas, Fatsia japonica (Japanese aralia), Hibiscus, Melianthus major (honey bush), Plumeria (frangipani), Gunnera, and Schefflera. For color and contrast, include some Caladium, Colocasia (elephant's ears), Philodendron bipinnatifdum and Zantedeschia (calla). You might also plant some of the fast-growing, clumping type bamboos. These will produce a quick screening hedge.

Gunnera, Musa, Fatsia and Schefflera are fast-growing and will provide privacy to about 8'; the tree canopies will then take over and provide privacy at a greater height. If you interspace the trees and shrubs, you'll have a wonderfully textured and colored privacy screen and still maintain your tropical theme.

Hope these suggestions appeal to you - for full descriptions of these plants, consult Sunset Western Garden Book (available at most libraries, book stores and garden centers). Best wishes with your landscape renovation!

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