If you’ve a small garden then the perfect balance between a lawn and a tropical showpiece is an attractive boarder. Perhaps two to three feet deep it provides an exotic screen without taking over your garden.
For palms 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!). 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). A well sited Cardboard ‘fern’ (Zamia furfuracea) will add an uncommon touch.
If you’ve a dark corner then consider ferns and Vireya Rhododendrons with an under-planting of bromeliads.
For tropical colour add the beautiful Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia reginae), some scented gingers and smaller cannas. Bright flowering begonias can look amazing in the right setting and of course a few hibiscus bushes will top things off.