There are many benefits of living by the coast: the opportunity to take a long, relaxing walk and breath in the clean air; the chance to get fresh sea produce on your doorstep; and the scope for creativity that comes with a coastal garden.
Today’s guest blogger, Geoff Stonebanks, is the owner of Driftwood Garden, a coastal garden in East Sussex. Having been open for 10 years, Driftwood is available for the public to enjoy on open days between June and September. During the last decade, Driftwood has raised over £95,000 for various charities.
Creating a coastal garden isn’t as hard as it sounds!
All you need are hardy plants, good shelter and some natty nautical props.
There’s a realisation that having a garden in a coastal location makes you garden differently. If you approach it like an inland garden you are more than likely going to fail.
Learn to deal with wind and salt spray, establish shelter and choose the right seaside plants. In retrospect, all the elements that work against you gardening by the sea, have, for me, worked in my favour. I was forced to create something unexpected and different.
So what are my top five tips?
Tip 1 for costal gardens. Create windbreaks:
Protect your plants from the salt laden winds!
Try upturned chunks of railway sleepers or reclaimed groynes. Plant hedges like elaeagnus x ebbingei as a first line of defence.
Tip 2 for coastal gardens. Use waxy and shiny-leaved shrubs and grasses:
Try grasses like Miscanthus sinensis “morning light” and Crambe maritima.
Senicio Cineraia silver dust, Tamarisk tetrandra, Euonymous japonicus are also great plants to have in a coastal garden.
Tip 3 for coastal gardens. Use nautical props:
A real must are some lobster pots or fish crates. Let Verbena bonariensis grow through them!
Pick up an anchor or two and some marine buoys – not to mention heavy marine rope to create edging.
Tip 4 for coastal gardens. Use succulents:
Nothing gives the coastal garden more of a tropical feel than Agaves!
Here’s a trick: they don’t like the wet. Plant them in containers to move around and keep dry in the winter months under cover.
Tip 5 for coastal gardens. Pinch my four favourites:
Four seaside plants that have excelled in my coastal garden and which have become firm favourites are:
Bupleurum fruticosum or shrubby hare’s-ear is endemic to the Mediterranean region. It lives in sunny hills, walls and rocky places.
Coronilla citrina glauca has small pretty leaflets and intricate flowers that come back year after year and don’t seem to mind the salt winds at all.
Acanthus mollis, commonly called Bear’s Breeches, has handsome, lobed foliage and tall, erect racemes of two-lipped flowers with colourful bracts.
Tamarix tetranda is a beautiful small tree which produces magnificent, feathery plumes of pink flowers. Swaying gently in the breeze, this architectural, low maintenance shrub makes a superb focal point in any garden. It tolerates salt and strong winds, making it the perfect addition to coastal gardens.