To the world at large, Western Australia is considered a remote place consisting mostly of dry, flat, arid, red-earthed outback. While it may often be dry and covered by vast areas of desert, there are pockets of this vast state which surprise even the most hardened cynic.
To the north west you’ll find tropical oases where it’s hard not to describe the scenery without mentioning Bali. Drive around a suburb in Broome, for instance, and the similarities between this pearling town and the verdant frangipani filled isle, are pretty obvious at every corner.
In the south west, our climate is more Mediterranean, and although it’s more suited to vines and grevillea and peppy trees, it is possible to create a Balinese garden in your backyard.
How to create a Balinese garden in your backyard and why I wanted one
Asian inspired gardens are popular in Western Australia because we are so close to Bali which has become a favourite holiday destination for ‘sandgropers’, and I for one, wanted to re-capture the memories of my travels in Bali and wake up every day to be reminded of them at home.
But our back yard wasn’t very inspiring at first. It was actually a bit bleak for my liking, and I managed to kill that lawn after just one season So we made plans, and dug it up, laid a square section of paving, and got creative.
The first thing we did was to buy some inexpensive bamboo fencing from Bunnings. If I remember correctly it was about $20 a roll. He himself and I are not natural D.I.Y’ers but we managed to roll it around the colour bond fence without too much swearing.
The next thing we did was buy colourful plants that reminded us of the vivid colours of Bali. We were already lucky enough to have frangipani trees in the garden by the pool (which I’ve nurtured like babies because I love the scent of their flowers), but we added hibiscus, bright petunias, palms and marigold trees.
I was intent on creating a lush tropical haven that took the focus off having close neighbours, lovely as they are.
I wanted somewhere that we could retreat with a cup of coffee in the morning or a glass of wine at night, so it was an obvious move to add a gazebo. We bought one from Bunnings for about $299, which blew down in a storm, but which we managed to adapt, utilising the top canopy and the overhead structure on top of gum poles that we cemented into the ground.
There are other aspects of a Balinese garden that can be adapted to a suburban back yard to give it a Balinese feel such as the use of incense. We like to burn sandalwood oil and citronella to remind us of the exotic smells in Bali – where incense is burnt to appease and to honour the Gods.
We’ve enjoyed hunting down Balinese statues which we’ve dotted around to add visual impact. Due to the size of our garden we’ve kept them quite small.
Figures of Balinese gods or goddesses could be discreetly placed under a large plant or in a corner of the garden, in alcoves or or along walls. Look for different textures – you’ll find statues carved in timber, bronze or stone that you could either use as focal points or as backdrops secretly peeping out from behind palms or flowers to give a feeling of surprise.
We love our bright blue temple flags (above), which in WA you can buy in all colours of the rainbow to suit your own colour scheme. How about adding umbrellas and water features? Below are some ideas from Bali but if you look around you can easily discover similar for sale in Perth or a regional town in WA.
Tips to create a Balinese feel inside and outside your own home.
Having a dinner party? Then why not scatter fresh petals and flowers around. Frangipanis are beautifully fragrant for the dinner table, and rose petals look lovely scattered on the ground. How about an exotic orchid as the table centrepiece?
A glass bowl filled with water and floating flowers also makes a lovely focal point on a side table perhaps?
Bright coloured cushions and bamboo chairs are also in keeping with the Balinese theme. The cushions (about $45 each) are from The Outdoor Furniture Specialists in Bunbury.
Bali is verdant and green. So consider using palms of all descriptions in your garden. Ferns and cordylines give a feeling of lushness. If you have space to create more of a rainforest feel, then consider staggering their heights, and also use bamboo as well as cycads and aloes.
We use quite a lot of spot lighting at night to add ambiance and also to highlight certain areas of our patch. You might want to highlight a statue or a water feature.
Inside our house we’ve continued the theme with big, bold paintings in bright colours, that we’ve purchased on holiday, relatively inexpensively in Bali. The very very first picture in this post shows part of a large Frangipani painting that we purchased for about $60 in Ubud.
Water features for a Balinese Garden
Balinese gardens are tranquil places and water features add to the feeling of peace. If you have space you might add a pond with a waterspout, or incorporate one to flow into a pool. If space is limited then add a rustic water feature and surround is with greenery to make it look as if it’s been there forever.
Read the second part in this series and see how our Bali themed garden is changing here: How to create a Balinese garden without going to Bali
Want to read more about Bali? Here are 29 Awesome things to see and do in Bali.
For more information you might enjoy this article about creating a Balinese Garden.
Disclaimer and in accordance with my editorial policy. I was gifted two cushions by Outdoor Furniture Specialists.
What have I missed? Do you have any more tips for creating a tropical or Balinese garden in your backyard?