Transform Your Garden | A Private Oasis

If you’re jetting off on holiday, bring some exotic reminders back home to create a private oasis in your own garden. Landscape gardener Colin Boggon shows you how.

Just add water

Whether it’s wandering the banks of the River Seine in Paris, scuba-diving in the turquoise waters of Thailand or lounging by the pool in a Caribbean resort, for me, nothing evokes holiday memories like water. If your garden is large enough, a cascading waterfall and natural pond will provide a sense of calm and tranquillity. In smaller spaces, a self-contained water feature can work just as well.


Dine al fresco

Food (and wine, for that matter!) always tastes better when enjoyed outdoors. Creating a cosy and romantic space to dine in the garden really brings back those memories of long and lingering holiday meals enjoyed with friends and family. Choose comfy, practical furniture that will accommodate plenty of guests. Cover your dining area with a gazebo, cabana or sun umbrella for practicality (you can’t bring the weather back from your vacation) and add a little romance after dark with fairylights and candles.


Sit back and relax

Now and again we all deserve to put our feet up, and kicking back and relaxing shouldn’t just be reserved for our holidays. There is a huge range of waterproof fabrics available these days, so cover hard benches and seats in your garden with soft cushions in bright summery colours. And don’t forget that all-important sun lounger!

Bring the jungle to your back garden

I have family living in Malaysia and each time I visit them I’m inspired to try growing exotic and tropical plants in my garden back home. There are a surprising number of specimens you may expect to find in the jungle that are hardy and easy to grow in the UK.



Now quite commonplace and available in most garden centres and plant nurseries, these natives of Asia couldn’t be easier to grow. Black bamboo (Phyllostachys nigra) has striking glossy jet-black stems, while golden bamboo (Phyllostachys aurea) has stout, light-green canes and soft golden foliage. All bamboos like plenty of water, a generous feed once or twice a year, and a little protection from very cold or harsh winds.


While you may struggle to produce tasty yellow fruit, the hardy banana (Musa basjoo), a native of Japan, can tolerate cold temperatures and thrives in our climate with care. Specimens in sheltered spots can grow up to four- and-a half metres tall and bring a touch of the exotic to a garden. Feed and water well, and wrap straw or fleece around the stems in winter.


Of course we can’t grow coconuts or dates here in the UK, but there are a number of palms that will thrive in your garden. The Chusan or Windmill Palm (Trachycarpus fortunei) has been grown in the UK since 1843 and thrives on a moist, well-drained soil in full sun or partial shade.


Few plants can match Phormium tenax for its striking form with long strappy leaves that in some varieties can grow to over two metres tall. They will tolerate any soil but are happiest in one that is moist, rich and free-draining.



Forget the traditional petunias and marigolds and add some tropical colour to your pots, planters and windowboxes. Canna lilies have large banana-like foliage with fiery orange and red flowers. Pair them with trailing Begonias and Mimulus plants for an impressive season-long display.


Colin Boggon is the director of Botanica Gardens – specialising in design, landscape and maintenance – based in Hertfordshire and working across London and the Home Counties. 

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