Bringing the Tropics south:
In recent times there has been one garden trend that has dominated them all: Tropical.
Lush large leaves. Fascinating florals. Abundance. And holiday climate! This is what comes to mind when we think of a tropical garden.
But what about us Melbournians? With our baking summers and icy winters, is the tropical garden beyond our reach? Something only to be enjoyed when we head further North?
Not at all!
With some careful thought, we too can create our own tropical paradise!
While the weather presenters will tell you that the minimum temperature was 6 and the top 43, that isn’t consistent across your whole garden.
Thing like shade from trees and buildings, thermal mass from a brick wall, a low point in the garden where water drains to and the presence or absence of wind have a huge impact on the climate your plants experiences.
Using or creating new microclimates in your garden will make all the difference in the success of your garden.
Most of the plants that you will want to use in your tropical garden will want a fair amount of water, which makes sense as they come from places that get monsoons and tropical storms.
So you need to take this into consideration when planning a garden.
Adding organic matter to your soil will help with water retention, meaning that the water will be available to the plants for longer.
Mulch well and re-mulch when needed. Mulch reduces evaporation of water from the soil, keeps the root ball cool and can reduce the amount of heat that bounces back onto the plant in summer. In winter, much acts as a blanket for the roots, keeping them warm.
If you’re prone to forgetting to water or tend to go away for extended periods, you may want to consider installing an automated watering system. This helps take the hassle out of maintaining a lush garden.
And further to this, having a body of water in your garden will definitely help your garden to achieving that tranquil holiday feeling. For some this will come from their pool, other wise you could include a fish bowl or water feature. A splash of water will instantly make the garden feel cooler in summer too!
To achieve a sense of abundance in your garden, it is best to plant en masse! This will give your garden a sense of luxury but also stop it from feeling too messy. Remember, you want your garden to remind you of a jungle, not be one.
The other trick to making your garden look top notch is to have it FULL! Fill up spaces with ground covers. Maybe even consider growing vines up your trees for a true tropical feel!
Just like a real jungle, your garden needs to have an upper, middle and lower story!
The upper or canopy level is there to give you height and to block out the outside world, but it will also protect the more sensitive lower stories.
The middle story is where you will get the bulk of your garden. In this level you can include some flowering plants and BIG leaves!
The lower story is really the finishing touch. It fills in gaps, soften edges and gives the extra dimension to the garden that will take it to the next level.
Ultimately your tropical should be a place to escape, and to have fun!
Here are our top picks for plants to include in your Southern tropical garden!