Gardens inspired by the landscapes of Bali and other tropical resort destinations have become very popular in Australia in recent years. Where swimming pools, spas, entertainment areas and other “outdoor living” enhancements feature prominently, they are perhaps better described as “resort style gardens”, with regional flavour added via architectural details, artworks and other accessories.
The Balinese garden is in some ways like an outdoor living room – well decorated with plants but with much more for the people who live there to use and to contemplate. Here’s a few ways to make your backyard a tropical oasis.
1. Outdoor living areas, including thatched pavilions and pergolas. These will not only look good but help you enjoy using you garden. Linked with enticing pathways, stairs, bridges and combined with paving and ground covers, you may even be able to dispense with the lawn altogether.
2. Plants with tropical style – palms and cycads (ie. Sago Palms), clumping bamboos, lush and/or brightly colored foliage, flamboyant flowers. Modern interpretations of regional styles incorporate plants from all over the world if they have the “look”. We’ve incorporated a number of more drought tolerant plants that still have a tropical look to them. As a prime example, we used Xanadu – native to Western Australia but still carries that tropical feel.
3. Decorative ornaments: stone statues, doors, gates, wall panels, plaques, decorative containers, lanterns, temple flags, furniture, ceremonial umbrellas. One or two decorative pieces will transform a fairly ordinary collection of tropical plants into a “Balinese garden”. (Or, by adding Polynesian artifacts, create a Pacific Island style)
4. Water features. The sound of running water is soothing regardless of what style landscaping you have, but it definitely adds a signature element to tropical gardening.
5. Paths throughout the garden encourage exploration. Large paving squares separated by decorative gravel or miniature ground covers (or used to create stepping stones across a pond) is a popular theme. If your backyard is smaller and doesn’t allow for ‘wandering’, try using flowing shapes to your garden beds – it hints at a similar wandering garden, and makes your structured, tired garden look a little more relaxed.
6. Outdoor lighting will dramatically highlight garden features as well as facilitate night-time entertaining. This is something that needs to be planned for early on as low voltage lighting should be buried at least 10-15 cm underground.
7. A wide veranda or covered patio given a Balinese makeover provides more space for indoor/outdoor living, and a transition between garden and house. Extend the theme further into the house with Balinese furniture and other decorator items.
Megan and I are finding a healthy mix of Balinese and Hawaiian (Polynesian) furniture, landscaping, and design to our home. Both exude a love of the outdoors and relaxed living – a simpler and less stressed way of life. Mixed with our love of technology and modern amenities, our home should will be an oasis in which we can relax, away from the daily grind.