Tropical atrium with a pond.

Rob D. Brodman

The atrium in Sacramento, California, is the homeowner's version of a Hawaiian lanai. Large wicker chairs with palm-patterned cushions look over the multicolored Chinese slate tiles and the crescent-shaped koi pond into a curtain of exotic plants. The collection includes Alocasia, Anthurium, bromeliads, Colocasia, crotons, ferns, ginger lilies, heliconias (including the showy Heliconia rostrata, whose huge red-and-yellow bracts are rarely seen outside Hawaii, except as cut flowers), orchids, ti plants, a papaya, and a plumeria. A fishtail palm, a traveler’s palm, and a variegated Hawaiian banana (which has produced 140 fruits so far) have grown tall enough to touch the 21-foot-high ceiling. Two 8- by 20-foot skylights and seven large windows let in plenty of soft light.

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