How a subtropical planting gave this garden a lush oasis feel

This coastal jungle garden feels lush and mysterious thanks to an upcycled, improvised approach


How a subtropical planting gave this garden a lush oasis feel

An ad hoc gardening approach that worked with the land’s natural shape has led to this laidback, verdant garden. With its recycled vibe and air of mystery, it invites you to discover its secrets. Rather than removing an old camphor laurel tree that had died, the stump was left to become a home for a blanket of philodendron, which helps add to the rainforest feel.

The emphasis here is on foliage rather than flowers, with lots of colourful crotons, cordylines and plants with variegated leaves filling every nook. The garden was built up using found items, cuttings, and low-cost plants, and paths were created out of different materials such as recycled pavers, large river stones and old fence palings. A fence at the front was constructed using unwanted bamboo poles. Bright splashes of colour on the house and garden furniture add contrast and a bit of fun.


Subtropical style 

The garden is protected from ocean winds and most of the plants around the back are subtropical – palms, bromeliads, ferns, begonias, ctenanthe and cordylines grow very well. Palms include Alexandra, Bangalow, cabbage and Kentia, which form a tall canopy. The front garden contains myriad spiky succulents. Ficus hedging creates a smart border by the front door, but requires regular trimming, and a frangipani adds fragrance and enhances the ‘tropical beach house’ look.


Top plants 

  • Bromeliads
    They spread and multiply nicely.
  • Crotons
    Very colourful and look great in a vase.
  • Ferns
    There’s a perfect fern for every space.
  • Succulents
    Grow well from cuttings and, once established, are tolerant of dry conditions.
  • Frangipani
    Beautiful fragrance and suits the beach lifestyle.

Words by: Amanda Hemmings. Photography by: James Henry.

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