Tropical gardens can be incredibly transformative spaces, with lush evergreen foliage and deep jewel tones creating a real sense of immersion.
First things first, let’s look at what makes a garden feel tropical. Does it conjure up visions of being immersed in nature, surrounded by evergreen foliage? It’s likely to be a space with depth and character, where you can’t see everything all at once, and there is a slight sense of adventure and intrigue. You want to be transported by this space, to feel like you’re in a different world to your own.
And whilst you can’t control the weather in your garden you can use things like the natural light, colour and sound to your advantage in order to create the atmosphere you want. Atmosphere is so important when you’re designing a garden; how each space is going to make you feel, what the ambience will be like – these form the foundations of your experience.
You’ll usually find that bright colours are used sparingly in a tropical garden – to create more impact. Splashes of dark reds, bright whites or deep pinks twinkle in between huge swaying leaves of evergreen foliage. There is almost certainly the sound of running water.
Gardens to visit for inspiration
Abbotsbury Subtropical GardensSeabreeze / Alamy Stock Photo
Whilst Pinterest is a great place start when you’re looking for inspiration it is so important to think beyond the visual with gardens. What scents will it have, what sounds will you hear as you brush against a plant’s exotic leaves, what will you touch? Try and visit some tropical gardens for glasshouses for inspiration. The UK has surprisingly many to choose from, not least thanks to the Victorian plant hunters who used glasshouses to house their temperate plants.
Abbotsbury Gardens, near Chesil beach in Dorset, is a gorgeous gem of a garden. In its own meandering valley, you can wander through and find plants from all over the world that are thriving in this little corner of the South West coast.
In London try the Barbican conservatories, or the glasshouses at Kew; whilst you might not be able to use the exact same plants you’ll get a real feel for the ambience and sense of immersion that are key to a transformative tropical garden.
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Tabi Jackson Gee