Landscaping A Tropical Garden: An Oasis In the Midst of Limestone Field

Aesthetically pleasing tropical garden

One should appear lush and vibrant; this can be accomplished through dense planting of proper trees, greens and flowering plants. A tropical garden must features tropical plants and requires a good deal of sunlight and a warm, moist climate. These gardens need a good amount of water from either rainfall or decent irrigation system or sprinkler system in order to thrive well. In planting out the garden, there are some things to consider about. The major variables include the location of the site, and the placement and density of the plants and the selection of softscape and hardscape. It all of course, comes back to the personal preference, but in creating a good aesthetically pleasing garden will have to contemplate on these variables. In this month’s article we will bring you a case study from one of our landscape projects: Kapungkur Villa.

tropical garden

An arid hills

The villa is located in Karangsari, a village in Jimbaran. Geographically the area is in South Kuta, Badung district. The area is more known as Bukit (hills) where most of the area is situated on a karst plateau. Unlike the area in the north part of Badung where the land consists of volcanic materials, Bukit area is mostly contain of limestone. Contrasting from the other parts of Badung which the soil holds a lot of minerals making it very fertile, the soil in Bukit area is rather dry and not suitable for agriculture. The area also only has periodic rivers where the water only flows when it is raining and the groundwater filling process only happens during the rainy season. Although sited in a dry location, it did not stop the owner to seek after creating a green oasis.

Throwback from the past

The landscape concept idea of the villa was royal village. The owner wanted to give out the nuance of the past hence, the name itself, “Kapungkur” comes from a Sundanese word which means dahulu (the past). It would show the characteristic of royal village with contemporary looks, privacy and involves historical value in the components of the landscape. It also has a mixed of Javanese and Balinese traditional contemporary style. The villas are using frameworks of a traditional Javanese house, or Joglo, with the Balinese accents here and there.

tropical garden

The first step is..

Before selecting the variety of plants, we first must have to identify the “issue” on the site. The biggest issue with this site was the existence of an apartment building behind it. The apartment is at least a few stories building. This gave it a viewing access over the site, affecting the privacy of the villa. Therefore, in order to sort it out, we chose to plant tall trees like coconut tree (cocos nucifera) and wide, dense trees such African tulip tree (spatodhea campanulata) along the border wall in the back area. Further, to really block the view from the top, we built a a six meters vertical garden with double butterfly pea (clitoria ternatea var. pleniflora) that would also give appealing visual with its violet flowers.

tropical garden
tall tress along the wall

In addition, the owner wished to bring the lushness to this dry area. As a result, we had to select plants and trees that would grow well with such condition and still appear vibrant and dense in order to deliver that kind of ambience to the landscape. Therefore, we chose a variety of different high and low shrubs from crystal anthurium (anthurium crystallinum), giant taro (alocasia macrorrhizos), cuban cigar (calathea lutea), plum aralia (polyscias scutellaria) to fern-leaf aralia (polyscias cumingiana). Most of this vegetation will thrive well with moderate water and full sun exposure. It made them suitable with the soil condition in Bukit area, but of course still follows with intense maintenance. Some of these shrubs could be found around the yard in old village houses. This would bring the traditional value and nostalgic nuance to the residence. We also planted flamboyant (delonix regia) and bael (aegle marmelos) on a few spots to add some accents

tropical garden
tropical garden

The magic touch of hardscape

Aside from softscape, the presence of hardscape in a tropical garden is as crucial. It functions as the “backbone” of the garden by giving it structure and unifies it with the surrounding environment, completing the whole vista. We installed a few ponds, a pool and some traditional-contemporary artworks around the site.

The gardens of Kapungkur Villa built in two levels following the contour of the site. We built the main ponds on higher parts of a property so that they can gravity-feed water down the garden and ponds below, creating a little creek. Combining the water element to the landscape would appeal to all the senses, enhancing peacefulness and freshness.

For the artworks, we set up statues and a Balinese relief on the wall to follow the whole concept of Kapungkur. To achieved our costumed artworks we also worked together with the local artists and craftsmen to really bring out the sense of localness.

tropical garden
design sketch of the artworks
playful turtles artworks

There are many things to consider in planning out and creating a beautiful functioning tropical garden. Things like location and the condition of soil will determine what kind of plants will be planted on the site. The desired concept will as well decide the placement and density of each softscape and hardscape. As in building the tropical garden of Kapungkur Villa, its location was the main thing to really consider about. Therefore we selected the plants that would only need fewer requirements but still grow beautifully. We placed them with a combination of different heights to make it appear dense and lush. And then wrapped all up with the touch of appropriate hardscapes to the landscape. The outcome came out harmoniously as projected in the video down below.

Cheers,

SHL Asia team

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