By Sara Milne
Creating a coastal garden isn’t as hard as it sounds – all you need is hardy plants, good shelter and some authentic nautical or seashore accessories.
Ideally, you could make the most of the unique features of a coastal landscape and incorporate them into – creating a garden that fits well in its setting and doesn’t need much maintenance. Use typical seaside props, like rope and other nautical pieces, such as driftwood, flotsam and jetsam found on the beach.
Make sure you incorporate horticulture sand, shingle and smooth pebbles from your local garden centre for the natural coastal feel. Go for either a natural, seaside-landscape style or a contemporary garden, based on seaside features, and don’t forget to add a bit of shelter with prudent planting or driftwood fencing.
Before you start, make sure you know what the local weather conditions are like as they vary round the coast of the UK from mild climates where exotic plants can grow to exposed and windy areas, where only the most hardy of plants will survive. Have a look at other gardens to see what grows best and talk to local nurseries and garden centres for good plant advice.
Of course, you don’t need sea views to reflect the fun, informal look in your own outdoor space. Most coastal plants will thrive in any garden with well-drained soil and a sunny spot.
They’re tough plants used to battling strong winds and salty air, and usually growing in poor soil or on steep banks. Some of the most popular include:
Rosmarinus officinalis – Rosemary
A woody, hardy Mediterranean herb, perfect for a seaside spot. It’s an evergreen and has delicate lavender blue flowers in summer.
Eryngium variifolium – Sea Holly
Striking silver foliage and statement blooms with prickly cone-like heads, it copes well with sandy soil, so perfect for seaside gardens.
Armeria Maritima – Thrift
A robust, low-growing plant ideal for paths and borders, or to use in rockeries. It’s an evergreen and has small pink pompom flowers in summer.
Crambe Maritima –Sea Kale
A great foliage plant with undulating silvery green leaves – and like other kale is edible. It dies back over the winter but regrows in spring.
Limonium latifolium – Sea Lavender
A very tough plant that looks deceptively delicate, with gossamer stems that produce a mass of tiny pink purple flowers.
For coastal gardens always do initial planting in late spring and early summer, so plants can become established before the winter winds and keep new plants well-watered at first.
Watering is top of the ‘to do’ list this month for gardeners everywhere as the temperature rises.
This is often one of the hottest months of the year and a great time to sit out and enjoy your garden. Keep plants looking good by regularly dead-heading, and you’ll enjoy a longer display of blooms. Make sure you keep new plants well-watered, using grey water where possible, and hoe off weeds, which thrive in the sunshine.
Keep plants looking lush and flowering for longer with regular feeding and watering. You’ll get more flowers in borders, containers and hanging baskets by adding a liquid feed once a week to the watering regime, and that also applies to vegetable crops to ensure the best growth. Mow the lawn at least once a week this month and trim the edges after cutting for a neat finish – and give it a summer feed. Deadheading flowering plants is important to keep your displays looking fresh, and it prolongs the flowering period. Pinch off the flower head with your finger and thumb, or use a pair of scissors or secateurs. Make sure you take the seed pod away too because the plant will then use its energy to form new buds rather than developing the seeds.
Now is the best time to cut and tie stems of herbs to dry them for use in the winter. A range of herbs – including oregano, marjoram, thyme, lavender and summer savoury – are growing really well now, so perfect for harvesting. Cut stems in the morning on a dry day, tie them into small bundles of individual herbs and hang them up in a cool, dry room. When well-dried, the leaves should be transferred to tightly closing tins or screw top jars.