Tiki décor may be an acquired taste, but some people just can’t get enough. The word itself originated in Polynesia and refers to carved statues and also to the first man in Maori mythology. Tiki aficionados date the onset of Tiki culture in the U.S. to American soldiers bringing back Hawaiian and Polynesian artifacts acquired during World War II. Whatever its origins, tiki in the U.S. has some defining attributes that are easily incorporated into garden décor.
Brightly colored masks with dramatic expression can either be purchased or made from plywood shapes or canvas stretched around wooden frames and painted by copying tiki designs found in library books. You can hang the masks on outside walls or fences or attached to poles placed in the ground in locations throughout the garden.
Thatch and rattan
Polynesian décor relies on rattan furniture, curtains, mats and hangings. Rattan items are readily available at craft shops and retail stores. If your garden includes entertaining spaces such as a kitchen or bar area, dried palm leaves or any kind of dried vegetable matter such as dried ferns or straw can be glued onto the roofs or sides of bars or hung on trellises.
Bamboo is an invasive plant and shouldn’t be planted directly into your garden, but large pots planted with tall graceful bamboo would provide a definite tiki atmosphere. If your climate is warm enough, plant tropical plants, such as palms or gardenias. Tiki doesn’t require authenticity, so any brightly colored and exotic looking flowers would create a tiki effect, such as climbing clematis, exotic looking bearded iris or fragrant lilies.
Batik is a staple of Polynesian art, created by applying layers of wax and paint to fabric. Batik prints are available in any fabric store and can easily be made by do-it-yourself projects as well. You can use the fabric for patio furniture coverings, tablecloths, or hanging panels for overhead shade or for decoration on the side of the house.
Other Tiki Décor
You can place torches and any Polynesian figurines throughout the garden as statuary creating a focal point or as a whimsical element in any flower bed. Leis and paper umbrellas are perfect for decorating food on the patio to go along with the roast pig and rum drink you will be enjoying in your own tiki paradise.