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Bali Gardens

What is a Balinese Garden Style?

Bali is the ideal place to get inspired about gardening in a warm climate. Bring the romance and artistic flair of Bali to your garden.

What’s different about a Balinese garden?

  • A sense of contrast between dense vegetation and open spaces.
  • A richness of decoration.
  • Some typically Balinese features.

Bring contrast into the Design

The Balinese view gardens as places where there is a contrast between sparse, still open spaces (sepi) and lush overcrowded areas of vegetation (rame). Until the mid 20th century, more of the garden was given over to sepi (open sparse areas) but since that time, Balinese gardens have leaned increasingly to the rame.

A traditional Bali Garden may consist of a couple of large shade trees to the side with open areas of lawn, gravel and ponds; with paths, statues, small shrines, lanterns and statuary. Often the design is formal (but not always); laid out symmetrically around a central axis. Alternatively, a modern Bali Garden will contain more trees, shrubs, and vines than a traditional garden, possibly even having an overgrown appearance. The layout can contain some formal (symmetrical) areas, but overall the garden is normally informal and asymmetric in layout.

If you want a Balinese garden with some integrity; develop some spaces as shaded, over planted and packed with features such as planters, statuary, seating, and walls. Develop other spaces as open and clutter free, perhaps an area of lawn, gravel or paving, open to the sky, with less vegetation and features. By making use of these two types of spaces, you create a contrast which is typical of the Balinese style of gardening.

Features of Balinese Gardens

Certain features are common in both traditional and modern Balinese gardens. One thing that is common to both garden types is decoration in a typical balinese style (eg. painted or carved designs). Include some or all of the following features to create a Balinese flavour:

Shrines

Small Hindu shrines are found everywhere in Bali, and gardens are no exception. Adding a shrine as a garden feature can provide an authentic touch.

Gates

Decorative gateways are common features and focal points. Various styles of gates are used, some with a roof, others without (with simply two sides to the gate). Gates are often very decorative and some styles are quite distinctive of Balinese gardens.

Decorative Paths

Often different surfacing materials are combined to create decorative effects in what would otherwise be a featureless path.

Lanterns

Lanterns are common in many types of asian gardens; and are in themselves an artistic feature whether used to provide light or not.

Statuary

Statues of people, animals, religious and mythical figures

Carvings

The art of Bali is rich in carving, whether carvings on gateways, walls, wooden doors or elsewhere.

Water

Though not essential, ponds, waterfalls and fountains are all common in Balinese gardens

Pavilions

Roofed open sided with (commonly) a raised timber or stone floor.

Plants

The indigenous plants of Bali have been mixed with introduced species for over 1,000 years. Palms, tropical fruit (Jackfruit, Durian, Rambutan) and plants such as the Banyan or Tabebuia are common. Commonly cultivated lower growing plants include crotons, Crinum, Gingers, Hibiscus and Frangipani. Plants are often grown in decorative containers to create features.

Sparse Areas

These may be a large paved area, an area of lawn, gravel or even sand. A large pond can also be used to create an open space. Moving from the lush area to the sparse area creates a sense of contrast; and that heightens the appreciation for both.

What to include in a Balinese Style Garden

If you are wanting to create a Balinese style garden, the basic elements that you would need to incorporate to give your garden an authentic Balinese feel would include:

  • Paths.
  • Gates.
  • Decorative features such as carvings or statues either from Bali or with Balinese designs.
  • Two or more shade trees.
  • Water, even if only a small pond.
  • Lush clumps of plants between one and four metres tall.
  • A traditional Bali style pavilion as a central focal point, preferably in a raised part of the garden. Use two oriental stone lanterns at the entrance to your pavilion and Balinese features (tiles, wall panels, statuary, fabric) to decorate the pavilion.

Learn about Garden Styles and Design

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