Imagine the plants you've seen during coastal and island getaways. Lush foliage in different shades, leaf shapes and textures and colourful flowers abound, so that's the first step in creating a tropical look and feel.
Layers of plants at different heights also help create a greater sense of space and depth.
Tall plants for the rear of the garden include palms, crotons, hibiscus, Radermachera 'Summerscent' and frangipani. In smaller spaces consider a climber for the back of the area, covering a bamboo or wooden trellis. Tropical-feel climbers include pandorea and dipladenia, which have the double benefits of green foliage and gorgeous flowers.
In the middle of the space, leafy green gingers, aspidistra, brightly coloured acalypha, ixora and vibrant cordylines (choose red and burgundy varieties to contrast with surrounding green and gold foliage). Towards the front, more compact plants like clivias, ferns and bromeliads create a lovely border.
For places like courtyards and balconies, many tropical plants can also be grown in pots. The same design principles still apply - taller plants at the back, smaller plants at the front. You can also use colourfully designed pots to bring extra tropical flair.
It's important to choose plants that are suited to your climate. Cool, frost-free areas can still achieve a tropical feel by using hardy plants like bangalow palms, flax, cordyline, fatsia, cold-tolerant clumping bamboo, grassy foliage dianella and liriope, colourful leafy heuchera and nandina.
Position your tropical oasis in the warmest, most protected spot you have. Against a wind-protected, north facing wall is ideal.
Make your tropical-inspired retreat more appealing to relax in by including some shade. Dappled shade can be provided by palms and frangipanis, however for instant shade, install an umbrella. Look for vibrant tropical prints or thatch umbrellas create an instant south Pacific feel.