There is a huge range of widely available, often subtropical, large-leaved plants that can be grown easily outside in summer. In complete contrast to the archetypal English garden, flowers are out, and dramatic, jungly leaf shapes are in.
From: DK Books - Containers for Patios
If you have a sheltered courtyard or suburban garden with a gentle microclimate, you will have no trouble growing architectural tropical-style plants, although, come winter, the more tender types will need to be brought under cover. If winter storage is a problem, stick to hardier plants — the Chusan palm (Trachycarpus fortunei), for example, survives a few degrees below freezing, and can be left outside all year in mild areas with a little protection. The one thing you don’t want is an open, windy site, because strong whippy gusts will batter and ruin the leaves, so create a shelter belt.
Choose the sunniest site for your tropical patio, and remember that this may not be the area closest to your house if your yard doesn't face south. Position sun-loving palms and succulents in the hottest spots, and shade-tolerant plants, such as hostas, beneath the canopies of the large-leaved exotics if necessary.