Couple transform garden into incredible tropical paradise after Thailand holiday

·4 min read
A couple have transformed the garden of their new build home into a tropical paradise inspired by their holiday to Thailand. (Caters)
A couple have transformed the garden of their new build home into a tropical paradise inspired by their holiday to Thailand. (Caters)

With the heatwave showing no signs of abating, spending your days cooling off in a calming tropical oasis sounds like the dream right now. 

But that's a reality for one creative couple who have managed to transform their new build home into an island paradise inspired by their honeymoon in Sri Lanka.

When Chris Ensell, 32, and his wife, Anneka, 31, moved into their new build home in Ackworth, West Yorkshire in 2018 their garden consisted of nothing more than dried out turf.

Taking inspiration from previous trips to Thailand and Sri Lanka, the couple got to work making over the area in the summer of 2019, in a bid to create their own calming garden sanctuary. 

Read more: Couple halve garden makeover cost with clever DIY hacks

A couple have transformed the garden of their new build home into a tropical paradise inspired by their holiday to Thailand. (Caters)
The garden was a bland blank canvas pre transformation. (Caters)

"When we first moved into the house the garden was just made up of dry and useless turf that hadn't been watered for weeks," Chris Ensell, a photographer, explains. 

"I wasn't massively into gardening before starting this project as this was the first house that we lived in that had a good garden space.

"Our first home only had a decked area with room for some potted plants."

Watch: Money saving gardening hacks. 

After spending some time thinking about how they would like to design the garden, the couple settled on a tropical paradise theme because they loved the flora and fauna found on previous far-flung trips. 

"We visited Sri Lanka for our honeymoon in 2018," Mr Ensell explains. 

"We also took a lot of inspiration from a place called Jim Thompson's house in Bangkok.

"It's so calming and idyllic, we wanted to recreate this in our garden at home, so that stepping into the garden would feel like we were on holiday."

Read more: Couple transform rotting decking into perfect pergola with eBay bargains

The garden mid transformation. (Caters)
The garden mid transformation. (Caters)

Ensell says he started doing lots of research on tropical plants so he would know how to grow them and look after them properly.

"It seems pointless to spend money on tropical plants if I didn't know how to take care of them," he explains.

"I have learned on the job. I've spent lots of time watching YouTube videos and gardening programmes on television."

The couple estimate they have up to 300 variations of plants and have spent around £4,000 on tropical plants since starting the garden transformation.

Read more: Couple transform ordinary garden into skaters' paradise with 18ft ramp

The garden is now a tropical oasis. (Caters)
The garden is now a tropical oasis. (Caters)
The garden is full of unusual tropical plants sourced from specialists.  (Caters)
The garden is full of unusual tropical plants sourced from specialists. (Caters)

To find the unusual tropical greenery, the pair go to specific growers and attend rare plant fairs to try and get as many suitable plants as possible.

"I like it when people look at our plants and are unsure about what they are," Ensell continues. 

"As tropical plants tend to grow quite fast, it is a challenge to know where to place the plants in the garden and where is best to plant them for sunlight.

"They are a lot easier to look after in the summer, I just have to water them in the mornings and evenings.

"This is also the time that the garden is looking its best.

"In the winter we have to dig up some of the plants and put them into our greenhouse with heaters to keep them alive.

"This is why research is important so you know how to keep your tropical plants in the best conditions over the winter periods."

The garden looks magical at night. (Caters)
The garden looks magical at night. (Caters)
You'd never guess this garden was once a lawned shell. (Caters)
You'd never guess this garden was once a lawned shell. (Caters)

In order to keep the price of the renovation project down, the couple decided to carry out the transformation themselves with the help of some family members, hiring all the equipment and working within their tight budget.  

"Aside from the plants, the project cost us around £1,500," Mr Ensell says. "We tried to do it on a budget and get things for as cheap as possible, or even for free, on Facebook Marketplace."

And now that the hot weather has arrived the couple are enjoying spending time in their tropical paradise. 

"Seeing the garden coming together more recently has been brilliant because the plants are getting to really good sizes now," he adds. 

"We are so happy with the tropical theme that we chose. Especially during the pandemic as we can't go on holiday, we have our garden as our own little holiday and oasis."

Additional reporting Caters.

Watch: TikTok star reveals easy and cheap ways to grow pineapples at home. 

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