Answer: The yard as you describe it will indeed be a design challenge. Most tropical looking plants are lush with foliage which will encroach on your backyard and that of your neighbor's. A few plants you might consider are clumping bamboos, cordyline with yellow or purple stripes on their leaf margins, Eupatorium dubium 'Little Joe' (Coastal Plain Joe Pye Weed), which grows at least 48" tall. The 4' tall stems are clothed with whorls of green leaves and topped in midsummer with dome-shaped heads of lavender flowers...a real bonanza for keeping butterflies at eye level.
Angel's Trumpet Tree (Brugmansia sanguinea), is a small shrubby tree from the Andes with large pendulous flowers up to 10" long. Flowers are tubular, bright red at the mouth, fading to yellow at the base. Bears long, ovate leaves up to 10" long. A final suggestion is red-leaf banana. This tropical looking plant does not produce edible fruit, but is a fast-grower and produces large red-tinged or red-striped leaves. It typically grows to 10' in a single season.
Hope these suggestions are helpful!
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