When we were planning our landscaping, I decided I wanted a gorgeous, lush, resort-style garden with a tropical feel. That led to a lot of research, hunting for plants that would give me the look I wanted, but which would stand up to Melbourne's winter. Most real tropical plants were ruled out straight away, because they don't like frost and cold winds, but I wasn't giving up.
Eventually I came across an online article - I think it was from the ABC's Gardening Australia TV show - that featured the gardens of the elephant walk at Melbourne zoo. They listed a whole lot of plants that would give that tropical feel, without being prima donnas about the climate. I also spent a lot of time looking around nurseries and stalking gardens that I liked the look of to come up with some ideas.
I did most of the planting between March and May, and six months later, it's all coming along very nicely.
By the way, I've completely forgiven the cannas for being all ratty during winter. In the past four weeks they've redeemed themselves in a big way....