Feature plants are the golden ticket to a holiday at home. All you need to grant gardens with tremendous exotic scenery is a mix of year-round tropical plants, seasonal bedding, Mediterranean marvels and indoor plants you can put out to embellish your patio.

Calming palms


Create a spectacular effect with outdoor palms. Cordyline palms have sword-like foliage much like the tall Riviera palms you see on holiday.

These work as shrubs at knee height, positioned in pots and borders, or as taller trunked trees at head height. Plus, give this palm protection from the weight of snow damage and it’ll grow all year round.

Those with decorative coloured foliage should be sat in semi-shade so that the foliage remains as vibrant as the day you bought it.

Trachycarpus palms are hardy and take longer to grow, so they tend to be more expensive to buy—but look amazing.

The hairy looking trunk is covered in fibres so they’re striking to see and reminiscent of being abroad; sat on a relaxer looking through the throngs of the green palm leaves against a bold blue sky. Mix in the sound of a trickling water feature and you’ve got a space fit for ultimate tranquillity.

For something exotic looking and palm-like, but that isn’t a palm, look to Fatsia japonica which looks tropical but is hardier and has a bushy habit—making it perfect for achieving a striking visual effect.

Mediterranean terrain

Sun-baked Mediterranean soils are often blessed with the sights of lavender, rosemary, olive trees and even outstanding cypress trees.

These are hardy in most parts of the UK and suited to gardens of all sizes. With their columnar upward growing habit, cypress trees are low maintenance and help achieve an architectural coastal display to take you back to dreamy vacations away.

Just add in some grit to the soil for these plants to replicate the free-draining soil they’re adapted to.

Of course, no Italian terrace would be complete without the familiar warm hue of terracotta pots.

Mix in with pastel purple and blue painted pots too and you convert tired looking features into those which sing of vibrant villas and sunny siestas.


Perfect for pots, jasmine is an absolute favourite of mine. You get it all—decorative flowers, creeping growth and that distinctive scent of summer.

It’ll happily climb up walls, pergolas and fences so if you’ve got any parts of the garden in need of some interest, jasmine has you covered.

Of course, seasonal annual-flowering plants really set the scene.

Picture walking down narrow streets in Italy, the South of France or Ibiza and soaking up the sights of bright coloured window boxes full of geraniums, busy lizzies or fuchsias.

These plants never disappoint, their pop of colour will brighten up any brick wall and if you keep them frost-free over winter, they’ll carry on year after year.

Inside out

One of the joys of houseplants at this time of year is the freedom to position them on full display.

With the sun high in the sky and very little risk of heavy rainfall or high winds, indoor plants can be enjoyed all day long and your indoor plants are no exception.

Take your houseplants out onto the patio and bask in their presence.

They’ll benefit from the fresh air and natural light and it’ll give them optimal health to overcome winter indoors.

Rubber plants, weeping figs, Aspidistra, Swiss cheese plants and spider plants can all come outside when the risk of any cold days are gone.


Finishing touches


To truly set the scene for beach getaways and destination holidays, you’ve got to make your garden a place to revel in relaxation.

You can screen print photos onto weatherproof canvas and then position them on the side of a garden fence or shed as a blissful backdrop. Blow up beautiful beach scenes, or photos from your favourite family holiday, and it will spark joy every time you take a glance.

During beach breaks away, collect up shells and take them home with you to make into a decorative windchime—it will be a little slice of heaven right there on your doorstep.

Treat yourself to some furniture that shouts luxury. You wouldn’t put up with worn out furniture to lounge on while you’re away so why should you at home.

Large outdoor sofas are perfect for lazing around during summer and you can get all-weather cushions that can stay out throughout the year without falling to pieces.

Relaxers, dining and grilling sets make all the difference, so make a point to live in your garden in comfort and style and everyday will feel like a holiday at home. Check out hartmanuk.com for all of this and more. Set the scene, add in some cleverly positioned plants, and it’s all you need to extend your summer right through to September.


Plants love starch, so keep the water that

you cook your pasta in and, as long as it’s not salted

and is left to cool first, you can use it

to water your plants

Reader questions

What does a pergola do?


A pergola is an outdoor feature with cross beams to provide shelter over seating areas or an archway over a path. The main function is to provide structure on which vines can be trained or as a support for a range of climbing plants.

Can I make my grass look greener?

fresh radishes

Fertiliser that contains iron does not actually feed grass like nitrogen will) but will darken the greenery, making it appear lusher. Healthier grass will help, buy spring lawn feed which focuses on foliage and autumn feed which focuses on root stability.

Ideas for designing a Mediterranean garden below:

Or check out my Pinterest board for more ideas: