IF YOU are yearning for an island getaway but can’t head north at the moment, creating a tropical oasis at home could be the next best thing.
The experts at Bunnings have provided a step-by-step guide to help get you started.
Typically, tropical gardens are characterised by layers of foliage, cooling shade and creating a feeling of relaxation which takes you away from the ‘real world’ each time you step outside.
Key to creating the look you are after is good planning, soil preparation and regular maintenance.
There is no such thing as too much greenery in a tropical garden. Layer verdant, large-leafed plants that rustle in the breeze – such as cordylines, bromeliads and the like – at ground level, with bamboo and palm trees for height. You can use pots if you are working with a small space. The effect will be cooling and shady, as the larger plants offer a reprieve from the heat and allow dappled light to filter through.
Keep any manmade materials minimal or discreet: use greenery or bamboo screening to cover hard surfaces like masonry walls or paling fences.
While the dominant palette of a tropical garden is all shades of green, any colour you add will sizzle against the verdant backdrop. Tropical plants with foliage in shades of red and purple, or flowers like frangipani, hibiscus or ornamental ginger (your local climate permitting) will add bright pops of colour reminiscent of a south sea island destination.
Whether you are entertaining friends or lazing away the afternoon solo, a tropical garden is ideally suited to furniture you can sink into. Choose a sofa setting that is low, deep and comfortable, in island-inspired natural materials like heavy timber or rattan, with soft cushions that encourage lounging. And nothing says tropical paradise like a hammock. If space allows, add an oversized umbrella for cooling shade.
Create the feeling of a tropical tourist destination at home with an outdoor cooking and entertaining area. If there is a particular style of barbecue to suit this look, it's the smoker. Just imagine the smell of barbecue and, after long hours of cooking, enjoying a leisurely casual feast with your favourite people.
For more inspiration, visit bunnings.com.au or pop in to the stores at Rothwell and North Lakes.
Height: varies according to species, from less than 1m up to 60m tall.
Foliage: compound pinnate and palmate fronds, leaflets arising from stems or trunks. Variable, but predominately green; some silver, grey or red/brown with marked or variegated leaves.
Climate: most naturally occur in tropical and sub-tropical environments, with some also suitable for growing indoors or outside in sheltered temperate or mild growing environments.
Soil: fertile well-drained soils in the garden. A premium potting mix for indoor palms.
Position: full sun to shade, depending on variety. Many make very good indoor plants.
Flowering and fruiting: branch-like stems bear small cream, white, yellow, orange or pink sweet-smelling flowers, often with a conspicuous tough protective bract. Fruits can be large or small and fleshy (date) or hard (coconut).
Feeding: use a controlled-release fertiliser when initially planting, and two to three times during the warmer months.
Watering: will vary according to individual species, as there are tropical and drought-tolerant palms. Usually once per week, and more frequently during the hot summer months.