A tropical garden can be simply a collection of your favourite tropical plants. However, if you don't know where to start, it might be helpful to focus on a theme. A theme can add an extra dimension of interest and also provide an opportunity to match the garden with your home exterior and/or interior style.
Here are some ideas for tropical themes. Click on the links for more information.
See also the Outdoor Living page for general outdoor furniture, umbrellas, lighting etc.
Over time more tropical garden design themes may be developed here. Meanwhile, here are a few ideas:
- More regional themes (Thailand, India, Mexico, Brazil etc)
- gardens highlighting a particular type of plant e.g. orchids, ferns, bamboos etc
- gardens based on favourite movies in a tropical setting
You don't have to live in a tropical climate to have a tropical-style garden. Selection of tropical-looking plants that are tolerant of your climate is the key, combined with frost protection or overwintering indoors are tricks used by gardeners in cooler climates to create a tropical ambience. As this is a popular theme in the northern hemisphere at present, you shouldn't have too much trouble finding information on the subject of creating tropical gardens in cool climates if you need it. A few links have been provided at the bottom of this page to get you started.
Subtropical gardeners can grow most tropical plants, although a few species (such as the colourful lipstick palm) won't perform as far south as Brisbane. However, water has become a big limitation. Selection of species that look lush yet are drought-tolerant will be a big priority for residents of Brisbane and other subtropical and warm-temperate climates if water availability continues to be a problem.
The following links are for more ideas and inspiration. They originate from all over the world. needless to say, what's appropriate for you will be influenced by regional conditions and personal circumstances.
Forum for growers of tropical plants, especially professionals growing them in botanic gardens and other public displays
Dominica Botanic Gardens
Commonwealth of Dominica, West Indies. Pictures of the gardens and notes on many of the tropical plants growing there.
A Yard In Fort Pierce
A Florida resident shares his experiences learning to garden with palms and other tropicals
Florida Cooperative Extension's
Electronic Data Information Source (Univ. Florida, USA)
An African Tropical Forest in Boston
Describes how a tropical garden was created in the Franklin Park Zoo exhibit in Boston to enhance the African wildlife exhibit. Arnold Arboretum, Harvard University (PDF)
another garden at the Gardens to Visit website, New Zealand
Creating tropical effects in cool climates
Olbrich's Thai Pavilion & Garden
Olbrich Botanical Gardens, Wisconsin USA. Contains tips about Thai garden style and about creating a tropical garden in a cold climate
Includes tips on overwintering tropicals and using tropical-looking perennials in Midwestern gardens. University of Illinois
A U.S. magazine devoted to helping people grow tropical plants in places they normally wouldn't