8 Popular plant themes

Retail shopping centre interior landscaping

Looking for plant themes to compliment your preferred design style? Landscape designer Kelli Forward, shares the most common plant themes for corporate gardens. 

Similar to interior design styles, plant themes can transform a space to either compliment or confuse the continuity of its intended purpose. 

For example, you wouldn’t put Alocasia in an English cottage style garden would you? (Wait, wouldn’t I? You think, because you’re not a horticulturist and that’s exactly why you’re here!). 

Not only will certain plants not survive your unique environment, but different plant combinations give off different “vibes.” Ones that may or may not suit your ultimate vision. 

As a horticulture business, we offer interior and exterior landscaping services to a variety of businesses across South East Queensland. From corporate offices to five-star hotels and destination shopping centres, our clients include the likes of Deloitte, Emporium and Westfield. Our team of designers create spaces that will compliment and enhance a business’ existing design style or an architect’s vision. But sometimes, our client’s need a little help to understand all the options available, which is sometimes best understood in residential gardening terms. 

To help, we’ve made a list of the eight most popular exterior plant themes ideal for our home state of Queensland. We highlight their key characteristics and recommend the best plants for corporate garden theme. 

Which plant theme best suits your business’ design style? 

1. Australian native plant theme

Photo: Realestate.com.au/buy

The Australian native garden design is characterised by a free form integrated use of native garden elements that include stone and timber. Paired with contrasting groupings of Australian native plants, its design philosophy relies on varying heights and points of interest that naturally blend into our rugged landscape. 

Popular Australian native plants include: eucalyptus, bottlebrush, wattle, lilly pilly, kangaroo paw and banksia. 

2. Tropical oasis plant theme

Photo: Advance Plants

The most common Queensland plant theme is the tropical oasis. Suited well to properties along the Gold and Sunshine Coasts, topical garden themes have large, bold and plentiful foliage often packed on one another to create an Amazonian jungle-like feel. 

Characterised by lush drama in odd numbered pairings and a variety of colours, the tropical plant theme has the ability to transform your space into a resort-like feel. This design can be found in many coastal hotels and destination shopping centres. 

Popular tropical plants include: palms, ferns, bamboo, monstera, giant white bird of paradise and philodendron. 

3. Edible plant theme 

Photo: Hortus, Ltd./P. Allen Smith

Edible gardening boomed during the COVID-19 pandemic as people turned to self sustainability during supplier shortages. An edible plant theme may fit within a range of garden themes itself, however it shares key characteristics across these designs including steel or timber garden beds and a neat, practical layout.

Popular edible plants will vary depending on the garden’s purpose, time of year and location. Some herb and vegetable plants suitable for the Queensland grow season include: basil, fennel, coriander, capsicum, cucumber, tomato and sweet potato. 

4. Coastal plant theme 

Photo: Fiona Brockhoff’s Coastal Design 

Embracing its waterside surroundings, the coastal plant theme evokes feelings of relaxation by surrounding an outdoor entertaining area with plants that can withstand salt, wind and sand. Typified by a Bondi or Byron aesthetic, the garden blends seamlessly with its seaside setting featuring a silver, green foliage palette of hedges and shrubs. 

Popular Australian coastal plants include: Westringia fruticosa, agave, cotyledon tomentosa and coastal banksia. 

5. Japanese zen plant theme

Photo: Getty 

Historically referred to as oriental, Chinese, Japanese and other East Asian garden designs can be traced back to the sixth century. Characterised by tranquillity and balance, key elements of the Japanese garden include water, bridges, stones, gravel and bamboo; with clean lines and colourful, textured foliage. 

Popular oriental plants include: Japanese maple, bamboo, Chinese elm, garden juniper, Japanese quince and dwarf conifers. 

6. Mid-century plant theme

The mid-century plant theme was born in a post-war era that favoured functionality over beauty. With many viewing gardening as a chore, not an art, plants were sculptural and low maintenance. Giving maximise impact for minimal effort. 

Popular mid-century plants: Cacti, aloe, agaves, sansevieria and beaked yucca. 

7. Naturalistic plant theme 

Photo: Julia Atkinson-Dunn

The naturalistic plant theme can be attributed to famous Dutch garden designer, Peter Oudolf. Prioritising the seasonal life cycle of a plant, naturalistic garden design is a wilder aesthetic that is beautiful to look at in every season. “A garden is exciting for me when it looks good through the year, not just at one particular time. I want to go outside and for it to be interesting in all weather, in early spring and late autumn,” says Peter

Popular naturalistic plants: Mexican feather grass, Moorflamme moor grass, purple bush, goldtau and goldsturm. 

8. English cottage plant theme

Photo: Wikimedia Common Licence

Characteristised by a charming and unrestrained jumble of flowers, herbs and fruit trees, key elements of an English cottage garden include paved, stone pathways, brick accents and an abundant mix of brightly coloured flowers. 

Popular English cottage flowers: lavender, peonies, roses, tulips, daffodils, phlox and many more.

Plant themes are as varied as the interior and exterior styles in which they exist, but we hope this gives you a better idea of the types of corporates garden we can help you bring to life.

Looking for an interior or exterior landscaping consultation for your Brisbane, Gold or Sunshine Coast business space? Contact our designers today for a no-obligation consultation.

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