Not a new idea for UK gardens, after all, grand country houses often feature topiary. But what makes the use of single, closed clipped species of plants special as an idea, is the design (geometry features heavily) and layout (narrow spaces between the plants, giving an almost mosaic effect).
Water is, in itself, cooling and refreshing and its sound can be very soothing. When the temperature rises, water plays to our senses and helps create a restfulness, away from all the hubbub around. It may not be possible to have our own rill or fountain, but even the smallest garden or balcony can have perhaps a bird bath or an attractive, water-tight bowl planted with aquatic plants or maybe a wall mounted water-feature.
It's not just the plants that make for a beautiful garden. The tiles, planters and iron-work found in many a Spanish courtyard garden can be transposed into our own little oases. Many DIY stores in the UK have tapped into the idea of using tiles as an out-door surface and these extend beyond terracotta and into various porcelain tiles and colourful reproductions of Moorish designs. Think about adding a few as key features to a pathway or perhaps some small wall tiles to cheer up a dark corner of a house wall.