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Tropical Garden, North East - possible?

Hi all

Total newbie here so please be gentle.  We have just moved into a new build property. I have never owned a house with a garden before so have zero knowledge, but I'm excited to get stuck in.  Our house is a corner plot with effectively 2x triangle shaped gardens, one to the rear and other which runs around the side of the house.  Both areas are roughly the same size with the side garden possibly slightly larger as attached pictures.  By the way the photos are quite deceiving and I think make the space look smaller than it actually is.

As you can see its currently somewhat of a blank canvas.  For the side area, which is a little larger and more sheltered, the plan is to leave this relatively untouched other than installing a seating/eating area and play space for our young son.  

That leaves the rear space.  My wife is Thai and we travel back to Thailand every year. On our most recent trip we visited a botanical garden which was amazing (attached a couple of pics)

The place was an inspiration and I'd really love to try and create our own little piece of Thailand (or at least a feel for it) back home.  I understand our climate may limit us somewhat as to what we can achieve but I'd love to give it a go.

My idea for the rear space is to run a winding path or stepping stones through the centre of the garden leading to a small sitting area, or possibly a pond at the top corner.  I'd like to fill the surrounding space with palms, ferns, bamboo and basically any "tropical feeling" plants which will grow in our climate.  FYI the gardens are westerly facing and receive sun from roughly mid-day through to evening. 

So I guess I'm looking for your ideas and advice on wheres best to start?  Like I said I'm a total newbie so don't have a clue:-

What tools should I start investing in?
Any recommended reading with a bias toward tropical plants?
Please suggest names of any hardy palms, ferns, bamboos etc which you would recommend and where to buy them (specialist shops?)
Can I start planting immediately at this time of year & if not when is best to start?

Basically any suggestions, info, advice will be very much appreciated

Many Thanks


  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 34,707
    Welcome to the forum . 
    I LOVE "tropical" gardens. Search out a copy of Will Giles  "The new Exotic Garden" you can get them cheap , second hand online. 
  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 34,707
    Measure it out and draw it to scale and mess about with pencil and paper. If you use Facebook, there's a "hardy tropical" group on there . 
    Don't be put off by naysayers who say it can't be done , or it's not "right" in this country / climate. It's your garden, You do want YOU want. 
    That narrow point at the end looks like it could make a lovely little sitting area where you can hide under your jungle foliage and gaze back down the plot.
  • AnniDAnniD Posts: 12,144
    edited April 2019
    When you say the North East, could you be a little more specific?  Are you nearer the Scottish border, or more down the Yorkshire end (great geographical knowledge here, sorry ). As Hostafan1 says Will Giles was the expert when it came to tropical gardens, his book is fascinating. 
    This may help as well
  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 34,707
    edited April 2019
    "north east" might mean Aberdeen,or North East London, for all we know.
  • AnniDAnniD Posts: 12,144
    Good point !  :)
  • edhelkaedhelka Posts: 2,350
    I think the question here is your budget and timescale. You have a completely blank canvas and plants need time to grow or if you want to buy them big to achieve the tropical look quickly, they can be very expensive. The tropical look needs big plants - palms, bamboos, big evergreens, the greenery should be everywhere around you (including some kind of canopy, if possible, in some areas) and every space should have some plants (again, expensive, you need many plants).
    I have a small "tropical" section in my garden with a bamboo, evergreens, ferns, foliage plants and some flowers (kniphofia, callas, cannas in pots, fritillaries). I would love to have a bigger space for this.
    I would recommend Pinterest for inspiration.
  • Hostafan1 said:
    "north east" might mean Aberdeen,or North East London, for all we know.
    Sorry. Im in Sunderland, North East England 

    thanks for all replies so far 
  • UpNorthUpNorth Posts: 376
    Suggest watch a few you tubers, tiny topical garden for inspiration and Yorkshire Kris for good education.  My suggestion would be get some seeds for ricinus communis, it will give you a massive leap forward for year one.  You'll need a bag of horse manure compost and some way of giving the seeds a good heat level until germinated.  Also no good if you have pets that chew plants.  But if you can grow it, you'll love it until the frosts next winter.
  • Thanks UpNorth will take a look at those on Youtube

    Found a design tool online and been playing around.  This is my vision......just don't know where to start lol

  • Hi again guys.  So i've started lifting some turf and digging the first beds.  Is there anything I should add into the soil before planting anything?

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