How to design a tropical garden.BaoHa

A courtyard is the perfect space to put a tropical inspired garden in, thanks to it being protected from the elements – largely snow and wind. But really, you can create a space like this anywhere with a bit of creative thinking, by following some key principles outlined above.

Rather than looking for particular exotic varieties, look at leaf shape and flower colour and then use that to dictate which plants suited to your own garden will fit your scheme.

And finally, make use of pots, especially if you’re worried about the ground drying out or on the flip side getting too wet. This will also help you get height in your garden which is crucial to making it feel interesting and dramatic!

Include water

A sunken pond, a stand alone water feature, a fountain, a little spout slowly pouring water into an old stone trough; it doesn’t matter how you do it, a bit of water makes such a difference in a garden. Especially in a small space where you can really make the most of the sound and reflection it provides.

If you have standing water you’ll also be able to introduce a few water lilies – different types of water lily like water at different depths so make sure you do your research before you order them.

Lots of nurseries offer a few aquatic plants but if you want something specialist try somewhere like Waterside nurseries, who grow their plants in the UK.

Use tall leafy trees & lots of layers

Umberto Pasti's garden in Morocco

At last year’s Paris Fashion Week London-based garden designer Alexandra Noble teamed up with Nigel Dunnett to create a fantastical, otherworldly garden for Zimmerman’s catwalk show.

The plant palette included Travellers palm, Queen palm, Parkinsonia, Shoestring acacia, Indian banyan, figs, Alexandra palm, umbrella plant and frangipane, which were selected for their contrasting sizes and leaf tones/textures. Noble and Dunnet cleverly combined tall leafy plants with an underlayer of lower plants. This gives the showy taller specimens room to breathe; making them more of a feature and also meaning you can glimpse through their canopies to see further planting behind.  Or models, if you’re at fashion week..

To source a variety of hardy exotic plants try Richmond’s Palm centre. Beloved by garden designers, not only do they stock a great variety of fun and unusual plants, they’re also very helpful!

Living walls for small spaces

For a really tiny space, a living wall could be a good option. Thesee often come ready planted (or at least the supplier will plant them up for you) with plants like Adiantum (maidenhair fern) and Pachysandra terminalis. Chosen for evergreen foliage, these plants make a living wall feel perfectly exotic, not least of all because plants are growing in mid air; and that really is something you  only ever see in a tropical rainforest.

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