Information & resources about plants & gardens for Brisbane & Qld
and other resort-style tropical gardens
Gardens inspired by the landscapes of Bali and other tropical resort destinations have become very popular in Australia in recent years. This page will mostly deal with modern interpretations of such landscapes. In particular, how to create them at home, in your own backyard.
Where swimming pools, spas, and entertaining areas are incorporated (see also the Outdoor Living page), they are perhaps better described as "resort style gardens".
International themes (Bali, Thai, Pacific Island, etc) can be developed with the choice of shade structure (e.g. thatched hut or tiled gazebo and associated decoration), sculptures, lighting and other accessories.
Balinese garden icon dies
Made Wijaya, the former Australian who essentially created the lush "Balinese" style of modern tropical garden, has passed away due to illness. His many landscape designs implemented around the world included the home of David Bowie. He also wrote extensively on Balinese life and culture and became a prominent figure in his adopted home. (for more, see Fairfax Media news report: Death in Sydney of renowned garden designer keenly felt in his adopted Bali) His company website PT. Wijaya Tribwana International has many illustrations of his projects. Tropical landscape enthusiasts should take the opportunity to have a look while it's still available. (August 2016)
Suppliers of Balinese-style plants, accessories or services to Qld
May include online suppliers. For the most up-to-date information on plants in stock, opening hours, prices etc, be sure to visit the seller's website or contact the business directly.
Note that some products may only be suitable for use under cover, while others may be strictly for outdoor use only. Be sure to check with the supplier regarding the suitability of any item for its intended purpose. For the most up-to-date information on opening hours, items in stock, prices etc, be sure to contact the business directly. The following list may include online retailers and mail order suppliers.
For the most up-to-date information on opening hours, items in stock, prices etc, be sure to contact the business directly. The above list may include online retailers and mail order suppliers.
Other suppliers may also offer tropical-style items within their range. Here are some other pages you may wish to check:
Individual plants via the links on the "Balinese" plants page. Check also the main Nursery Guide at this site for a garden centre near you.
If you still can't find what you need, the webmaster may be able to assist personally: Contact Info
Advertise Now! If you're a supplier of Balinese-style garden accessories in Qld, you can advertise on this page. Suitable businesses for this page include suppliers of carved figures, pots, flags, stone products, carved or thatched lanterns, thatched huts, Balinese gazebos or pavilions, thatched or shingle roofing, screening & fencing, etc appropriate for Balinese Gardens (Australian-made or imports). Products must be available for sale to the general public anywhere in in Qld including Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, North and Central Qld, as well as Brisbame. Businesses which specialise in design, installation or construction of Balinese style gardens may also wish to advertise here. Information for advertisers
Balinese garden design - overviewThe Balinese garden is in some ways like an outdoor living room (or rooms): well decorated with plants but with much more for the people who live there to use and to contemplate.
1. Outdoor living areas, including thatched pavillions and pergolas. These will not only look good but help you enjoy using you garden. Linked with enticing pathways, stairs, bridges and combined with paving and groundcovers, you may even be able to dispense with the lawn altogether.
2. Plants with tropical style - palms and cycads, clumping bamboos, lush and/or brightly colored foliage, flamboyant flowers. Modern interpretations of regional styles incorporate plants from all over the world if they have the "look".
3. Decorative ornaments: stone statues, doors, gates, wall panels, plaques, decorative containers, lanterns, temple flags, furniture, ceremonial umbrellas. One or two decorative pieces will transform a fairly ordinary collection of tropical plants into a "Balinese garden". (Or, by adding Polynesian artifacts, create a Pacific Island style)
4. Water features. Can range from a small urn to a formal pond to a spectacular rock waterfall.
5. Paths throughout the garden encourage exploration. Large paving squares separated by decorative gravel or miniature groundcovers (or used to create stepping stones across a pond) is a popular theme. Areas of ground can be covered in this way for decorative effect and occasional foot traffic.
6. Outdoor lighting will dramatically highlight garden features as well as faciliate night-time entertaining. It may be possible to have lighting installed in some decorative lanterns.
7. A wide verandah or covered patio given a Balinese makeover provides more space for indoor/outdoor living, and a transition between garden and house. Extend the theme further into the house with Balinese furniture and other decorator items.
Some of these aspects are discussed in more detail below.
A popular way to add a Balinese touch to a garden is with a traditional thatched wooden lantern. The black fibre thatching looks like hair drawn up into a ponytail. These may be sold as "hairy lanterns".
Alternatively, some lanterns may have a shingle "roof". Decorative lamps carved from stone or cast in stone-effect materials in a variety of designs can also suit a resort-style garden and may be more durable than timber.
If you're intending to have lights installed in your lanterns, be sure that they are actually suitable for that purpose and, of course, observe all the usual precautions with respect to electricity.
Flags and Umbrellas
Long tapering pennants, called umbul umbuls, are held upright on tall poles. You may have seen them decorating homes and businesses. They're another way of adding a Balinese touch to a tropical garden without making major changes.
They're also becoming popular for adding a splash of colour to any outdoor scene (with or without a corporate logo). In white, they can also be used to decorate the scene of an outdoor wedding
More information about umbul umbuls here: Balinese flags
Fabric covered temple umbrellas (tedung) like those used for ceremonial purposes in Bali can also be used to decorate outdoor areas including Balinese-style wedding ceremonies.
Statues, Carvings, Decorative Pots(Looking for places to buy Asian style garden ornaments? Check the suppliers section)
Much traditional Balinese art has a religious basis. Religious practice in Bali is primarily a form of Hinduism, but influenced by Buddhism and other, more ancient, traditions. Hence the variety of symbolism seen expressed on garden statuary and other artifacts.
Plant and animal motifs, plus more modern, stylised creations are also produced by contemporary Balinese artisans and are available from many importers.
Such artwork can be added to your garden as free standing statues, wallmounted plaques, plant pots or as part of a water feature.
Water features(Looking for places to buy Balinese-style water features? Check the suppliers section)
Water adds an extra dimension to any garden, and the Balinese-style garden is no exception.
Even small bowls can become evocative symbols of the East with a frangipani or two floated on the surface. Larger containers can be planted up as miniature water gardens. Compliment big ponds or pools with a water spout in the form of a fish, frog or deity.
To take your garden to the next level, create a piece of mountain rainforest with naturalistic streams, pools and waterfalls with real or artificial rocks. For some, the ultimate water feature is a swimming pool with landscaped surrounds. (Large or small, ensure water features don't become hazards for children, or breeding spots for mosquitoes!)
Outdoor structures(Looking for gazebo materials, kits or builders? Check the suppliers section)
Tropical-look outdoor structures fit for a resort are commercially available in Australia in a wide variety of styles, materials and sizes. Simple square or rectangular thatched pavillions modelled after the bale benongs or bales of Bali are very popular and enhance the garden both aesthetically and practically. Open on all sides or semi enclosed, they offer shelter from sunshine or rain while allowing air circulation and views of the garden.
Bali grass (alang alang) is a traditional straw, but brushwood or reed materials are also commercially available for a thatch roof. Besides the tropical look, one of the advantages of a thick thatching material is insulation against heat from the sun.
The shaggy style of thatching is generally the most suitable for a Balinese or Pacific theme, while the neatly trimmed tiered thatching sometimes seen on the market is more appropriate for an African style gazebo (which is usually round or oval as well). Either would add pizzazz and utility to a tropical garden, however.
A thatched umbrella is another way to add that "grass hut" look, especially if you have limited space or perhaps can't afford the price of a more substantial structure. Or, how about a garden seat or hammock with its own thatched roof?
While less tropical-looking than thatch, wooden shingles (sirap) or terracotta tiles are alternatives which are also used in Bali and Indonesia. Decorative teracotta roof ornamaments at the apex (crown motif) and corners will truly add and exotic Asian look to such a roofline.
Bales may also be found listed commercially as bali huts, gazebos or pavillions. Similar structures may be sold under a variety of other names, depending on the cultural influence. More about such structures (bures, fales, nipa huts, tiki huts, palapas, cabanas, salas) from Asia, Pacific Islands and other tropical cultures here: More on tropical structures.
Some companies offer thatch treated with fire retardants. If you want your own grass hut, ask your supplier about this and other issues such as insect and rot resistance, wind resistance and UV stability. This applies to synthetic substitutes as well as natural materials.
Many such materials are now on the market in Qld, even entire structures in DIY kit form. Or consider a custom-made structure. (check the suppliers section.) Before construction, be sure to check with local authorities to find out what permits or licences may be necessary.
Fences, Panels, Screening(Looking for suppliers? Check the suppliers section)
Plants are one way to hide unattractive views or utilities that distract from the secluded resort-style ambience you may be trying to create. However, you may have to wait for them to grow, the coverage may not be adequate, or the spot may simply be unsuitable for planting. On the other hand, a fence constructed with bamboo, reed or similar material provides instant screening while adding to to the tropical theme, although it is likely to be more expensive. To makeover existing fences, walls or even the undersides of patio roofs with tropical flair, there are a range of screening products in panels or rolls. If you need to have a new fence constructed, take a look at options based on reed, bamboo or brushwood to compliment a tropical-look garden. (see discussion on thatching above for more about materials).
PlantsMore about plants and planting here: Plants for Balinese style Gardens
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