Summer has just started in Australia and here, in sub-tropical South East Queensland, the humidity and hot days have just kicked in. With the heat, gardens around Brisbane are beginning to show their tropical side. So I visited a small tropical garden in the Australian Open Gardens Scheme which has some amazing tropical planting on show. Texture and subtle color was the trend.
With the occasional splash…
And at this time of the year the gingers and bromiliads are amazing. These waxy pink ginger blooms look fabulous in the dappled shade of the tall ginger leaves.
So what are the best ideas to come from this lovely little tropical oasis in the middle of Brisbane.
Work in Layers
This little garden is a jungle.
Tall palms and trees create the upper canopy. In most cases the trees and palms are very straight up and down in their growth giving this garden a great vertical feel.
This upper canopy is not very high. The garden is small and to stay in keeping with the scale of the house and garden, trees and palms are about 8 meters.
Next in the canopy layer are the cordylines and gingers. Growing to about 2 to 3 meters, these plants give great dappled shade to the garden all year. The colors of the leaves are also amazing as burgundies, ambers and acid greens start to come in here.
But my favorite layer in this garden is definitely the ground cover with its mass of plants usually only known as house plants.
Through most of the garden, texture and color live in this layer.
Perhaps this is because I love gingers.
Be clever with color
Color in this garden is used with discretion and the odd mad splash. The green jungle backdrop is accentuated at every level with pink, burgundy, black (yes – black plants) and tiny zings of purple and acid yellows and greens.
Note the restricted color range. This is why it works.
Pink Franjipani, which will flower through the whole summer, definitely gives a mad splash to the canopy and beautiful perfume to the whole garden. I’m envious; I’ve always desired a Franjipani in a garden and somehow, in all the gardens I’ve lived in, I have never had one.
More generally though color in this garden is more subtle.
The odd pink ginger spike in the upper ginger canopy reflects pink Franjipani.
Offsetting the pinks are plants with burgundy and black foliage.
Here we have bromiliads growing in the palm trunks -look at the black and yellow of the leaves.
And the black leaves in the yam plants in the bowl, zinging off the pretty pink next door and the wide range of color in the crotons behind.
Bronze splashes from plants of all kinds lift the planting.
Yellow and red flower spikes of one of the many gingers and burgundy bromiliads in the mid layer give shots of focus..
And never overlook the bromiliads and gingers in the undergrowth with the ‘house plants’.
I just love this forest of ginger with the beautiful spikes at ground level offsetting the soft green of bromiliads and softer ferns. Awesome…
Play with Texture and Line
I could go on about this forever but this one image really brings the subtle way texture and line and focal points are used in this garden.
Add garden art
Wide ranging and seemingly not related, the pots and garden art add a final layer of surprise, zing and humor to the beautiful planting.
Remember: the Garden is for You
And finally don’t forget, a garden is for people. Add open space and seating to enjoy the sanctuary you have created.
Sit and relax…
This is a very cool garden.