Gardening by the Seaside
Gardening by the sea side has a number of unique challenges and benefits. The climate may be milder, less prone to frost and snow, but equally coastal gardens are often exposed sites and suffer from sea spray heavy with salt. Many gardens can be second home and so the garden must fend for itself for periods.
If the garden is very exposed, it may be necessary to create a wind break to create shelter. A hedge is better than a wall or a fence which can creates wind eddies and be blown down. A mixed hedge can be formed from many of the shrubs listed below. If garden pots are unattended for periods, a good tip is to add water gel crystals to the soil which will help to retain water; good also is a mulch, stones and shells look attractive. Gardens near the sea need tough plants - Below is just a few suggestions depending on your personal preferences; all are suitable for sea side gardens.
Perovskia common name Russian Sage, is an ideal sea side plant, a deciduous shrub grown for it's soft lavender blue flowers and aromatic leaves. It is easy to grow, likes a dry sunny spot with no more attention than to be cut back, not too harshly, in the spring. It has a woody base and when cutting back do not cut into the wood too much. An added bonus is that the bees go wild for Perovskia and although not visible in the image on the left, this plant was covered in bees. It looks good in a sea side setting and in the image is nestled along a blue fence which was a great combination. P.Atriplicifolia ' Blue Spire' is a good variety and has the RHS garden merit award.
As a Rose, the Rugosa variety is much more tolerant than other roses of the difficult coastal conditions and is related to the wild rose. Summer flowers are followed by large red or orange hips. It is easy to grow and can be planted to form a hedge but beware the thorns. Unlike many roses the Rugosa is tolerant and if its not pruned every year it will still flower the following summer. It grows up to 2 metres and Rosa Rugosa is deciduous so in the winter it will be bare. It is fast growing and very forgiving of growing conditions, its also known as the salt spray rose. The only condition it dislikes it wet soil.
Photinia fraseri 'Red Robin' A popular, easy to grow garden shrub which requires very little attention. The new growth of foliage is a vibrant red giving great colour to the border, and it produces it’s best colour in sun but will grow anywhere provided there are no cold, drying winds. It is a little tender, classified ** hardy which is why it is ideal for sea side gardens and grows up to 5m (15ft) and is often used to make a sea side hedge.
Potentilla is a very tough, deciduous shrub which flowers from late spring onwards. Saucer like flowers commonly either white, yellows, pinks and red. Growing up to 1m (3ft) it can form into a low hedge or form part of a mixed border. It needs no attention easy maintenance, it's easy to grow and reliable in a sea side garden.
Meconopsis grandis common name Himalayan Blue Poppy is a stunning beautiful blue flower. Meconopsis is suitable for some coastal gardens but is very particular about growing conditions, with a strong preference for cool and damp and cannot be grown successfully in sunny dry conditions. If your coastal garden is shady, damp in one of the cooler areas of the UK Meconopsis will grow well. Tips on how to grow Mecononopsis
If you have a sheltered sea side garden, Escallonia makes a fantastic hedge and this image is of an Escallonia hedge growing in Guernsey. The shrub has so much going for it, lovely glossy leaves, neat habit, delicate flowers. Many Escallonia are slightly tender but there are fully hardy varieties; more information about growing Escallonia and different varieties.