My friend and former neighbor Robert shared with me his great love and knowledge of tropical plants. When he was still living in DC, he’d call me up and ask me whether I wanted to make a pilgrimage to the now gone Kensington Orchids. The lush beauty took my breath away, especially on a cold, winter day. I have my tropical plants indoors from October/November to April. (I have a very protected, sunny back yard and danger of last frost can be weeks earlier for me than neighbors just outside the District limits. For some, the time outdoors would be shorter.) When I first bring them inside, I get a burst of the tropics right when it is truly showing signs of late fall/early winter. When it is time, in the Spring to start shifting from winter-hardy greens to early planting of seedlings for summer harvest, I bring out the tropicals. My garden, then, is already lush by late April. My garden’s small size is an advantage here; a dozen tropical plants completely transforms the whole garden. I then have room to do Spring cleaning.
Although I generally try to follow the seasons, the use of tropical plants does seem to assist me in weathering the external diminishment of light and warmth in winter.