If you’ve a small garden then an attractively landscaped tropical border can transform it from boringly suburban to thoroughly exotic. Perhaps two to four feet deep it provides an exotic backdrop without taking over the garden. Such plantings provide both screening from neighbours or the street as well as plenty of colour.
When landscaping both borders and small gardens avoid tall and large growing plants. Stick to mid-height palms and plants that won’t encroach on lawns and paths.
There’s also the hardy Sugarcane Palm, Dypsis baronii, which is closely related to the Golden Cane Palm – the staple of tropical gardening. Two other small palms worth considering are the Pigmy Date Palm, Phoenix roebelenii, and the shade-loving Lady Palm, Rhapis excelsa.
For palm trees you can’t go past the Bamboo Palm, Chamaedorea microspadix, for its exotic appeal and hardiness (and no, despite the name, it doesn’t spread like bamboo). In fact many species of Chamaedorea are just made for small gardens and provide in our climate a look that can’t be obtained from other palm species.
Besides palm trees and cycads smaller bushes such as Vireya Rhododendrons and Hibiscus, medium-sized ferns, smaller cannas and gingers and even miniature banana trees will all add appeal to a small garden. Other plants worth considering include the beautiful Bird of Paradise, Strelitzia reginae, bright flowering begonias, fiery impatiens and colourful bromeliads.