How to create Balinese gardens without going to Bali
When we arrived in Western Australia we bought a lovely house in a beachside suburb with a small backyard.
It was very different to our previous house and garden in South Africa which had a huge view, and to begin with despite loving our new house I felt like a caged lion as I gazed out at the colour bond fence which surrounded our oblong patch in suburbia.
Balinese gardens bring the tropics to a small back yard
“I have to cover the fence with something green, and I really wish it could look tropical out there,” I railed on numerous occasions to Dave.
Poor man, after year two when he saw that I’d avoided going out in the garden and subsequently I’d managed to kill the grass surrounding the swimming pool, and how the three citrus trees were looking ragged and sickly, he agreed on a budget to make some tropical changes to spike my interest in gardening.
And I got busy, and then roped him in as well. Because gardening can be relaxing, and I think that after the age of fifty it’s definitely good for you. It gets you outside, it makes you twist and turn, and it ups your spirits and renews your faith in the circle of life.
To tell you the truth, I’m no gardener. My thumbs are an ikky shade of green … well some things grow for me, others don’t. Perhaps it’s how I talk to the plants?
The Hibiscus and Magnolia below for instance, are beautiful when they flower, but I can’t keep them flowering for very long.
Anyway, with a little attention our small garden has morphed into a mish-mash of this and that, with some things growing like weeds and others getting attacked by snails. But overall I’ve tried my best within budget to create a garden that feels to us like a resort and is somewhere interesting to chill-out with lots of things to look at.
You can see how much its changed in four short years below. The palms have been a great success.
And it’s become a bit of a playground.
Anyway, if you’d like to add some Bali to your block, here are 10 tips to guide you.
10 Tips on how to create Balinese gardens
- Palms of any sort immediately suggest Bali to me. We have them successfully growing in pots all over the place, and surprisingly they grow well when their roots are contained. Large palm trees planted in the garden are great if you have space for them, but again beware, because their roots can be invasive.
- Bamboo creates a lush tropical feel and makes a lovely sound when it rustles in the breeze. Bamboo makes fab fence cover and is good for screening (I wish I had place for some) but watch out because it clumps and spreads.
- Frangipani grows well for us, probably because it likes the soil conditions here and doesn’t require a lot of nursing from me. But I do talk to my Frangis nicely, because I love them and they smell divine. They’ve grown surely and steadily over the four years we’ve been here and now hang deliciously over the swimming pool, their waxy flowers dropping onto us when we swim. They bloom for a good five months, keep their leaves for about 7, which means there’s only 5 months when they are stick-like in Western Australia. Winners.
- Reed or bamboo fencing cover. It’s easy to put up, covers ugly fencing, and although it fades and does disintegrate you can poke holes in it (I’m a very basic gardener!) and so it’s a wonderful structure for climbing plants.
- Statues. I’d have statues everywhere if only Dave would allow me, but our garden is contained so I know in my heart that it would be overwhelming to have too many, rather than looking stylish. We’ve kept our statues quite small and discreetly placed, although I’d like to get a ‘humungous’ statue one day.
- Balinese flags. These are cheap and cheerful and add impact. You’ll find them readily available at garden centres that stock Balinese imports. They are not expensive so you could change your colour scheme every year.
- Hanging shells. I bought some hanging shells in Broome for $50 at a night market. I think this kind of decoration along with wooden chimes can add a distinctly Balinese feel to the place.
- Incense. The most evocative aromas of Bali for me are sandalwood and citronella. When we eat outside we’ll always have one or the other glowing on the table, or one burning at our feet to ward off the mossies.
- A Bali hut gives shade and character. We decided against a thatch Bali hut because it was expensive, and we wondered how tatty it would look after our West Australian winter storms and winds. So we opted for a Bunnings special and bought what we call a ‘pondokie’ for $399. Yes, it blew down in a storm so we had to cement in gum poles on which to fasten the canopy. After two years the canopy ripped in the winds and disintegrated in the harsh summer sunshine, but aha, luckily we’d had the foresight to keep a spare in stock. I now have another canopy at the ready stored in the garage. Just hope that Bunnings go on stocking those canopies, because our gum poles aren’t going anywhere.
- A shady seating eating area or a hot tub? We had a shady seating area out in the garden for two years, then decided to splurge and buy a hot tub. We’ve probably used the area more now that we have the hot tub there because we’ve used it throughout the winter too (it’s not too far to make a dash in my gown to the back door). However, I do miss sitting with friends sharing wine and snacks under the pondokie in summertime and being out in amidst the garden, surrounded by nature which I was when I took my early morning coffee into the garden too. Thinks … maybe it’s time to buy a big umbrella and some chairs to put on our last remaining patch of grass!
Our little garden is a work in progress, so I’d love any tips you’ve got to create more tropical style.
If you’d like to see how our garden looked in the beginning, and the basic landscaping we did, then pop over and take a look at : How to create a Balinese garden in your backyard
But don’t go away just yet … Do you have any tips for Balinese Gardens, would you like to create one, or do you have another theme that’s successful? Why not tell us in the comments below?
Until next time,