The Tropical Garden

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The tropical garden has one foot in the exotic South Pacific and the other in the Equatorial rainforest. These humid climates produce an incredible array of plants in what we once called the “jungle.” The glitzy coast of Florida, languid vacation lifestyle of Hawaii, or the more rustic feel of the Mexican Riviera can inspire themes for this style. Even if you don’t happen to live in a hot, humid climate, you can create the essence of the tropics.

Three Keys to a Tropical Garden

First, do a little research about what grows well in your area. If your climate is hot and dry, you can still create the topical feel, but with easy-care plants that won’t triple your water bill. So instead of thirsty Ferns, you might choose Giant Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia Nicolai). Plants for the tropical garden need not be intolerant of frost. Many tropical-looking plants will stand up to freezing temperatures. Like the Hardy Fiber Banana (Musa basjoo) or the Hardy Hibiscus (Hibiscus Moscheutos).

Second rule — the essence of the tropical garden is dense planting. Only with a lot of plants in a small space can you achieve the desired jungle-like appearance. Create a wall around the garden – think vertical layers. Surround yourself in plants.

The final design rule is color. Hot, bright colors just scream tropics. Not only bright flower colors, but striking variegated foliage. And, use color in your hardscape and décor.

More Elements in the Tropical Garden Huts and palapasThe rustic thatch roofed of a beachcomber’s shack. Whether constructed out of salvaged lumber and palm fronds or more upscale carved Balinese posts or timber bamboo, this shaded nook will become the favorite room of your outdoor living room.Rattan and teak furnitureWoven sea grass, silvered teak or finely wrought bamboo make the most tactile and natural-appearing furniture for tropical gardens. Add a few brightly colored cushions.Art in the Tropical GardenCarved wooden tikis of the South Pacific or pre-Columbian-style stone carvings from the Americas add character and primitive mysticism to the garden. Vivid glazed pots bring high drama when planted with leafy tropicals or a small water garden.Outdoor showerWith a seasonally portable unit or a permanently installed one, you can experience warm “rain” in the midst of your own tropical “forest.”

Plants for a Tropical Garden

Includes both true tropicals and tropical-looking hardy plants hardy bananas, fatsias, big-leaved hostas, aucuba, cannas. Trees/shrubs: palms, hibiscus, gingers, bananas, bird of paradise, cannas, agapanthus, Elephant Ears, Australian ferns. Vines: bougainvillea, mandevilla, passiflora