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Plants That Are Perfect For Coastal Gardens

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If you living near the coast, you might think that a lush and beautiful garden is ou of the question. High winds battering your garden can wreak havoc on many different plants and flowers, destroying all of your hard work in a matter of minutes. Sitting out on your wooden bench with a cup of tea and surveying your garden is delightful, but is it possible if you live on the coast?

Don’t despair – if you want a lovely English garden but you live on the coast, you just need to plant smarter, not harder. Choose robust plants that can stand up to the wind, and that even enjoy the blusters! A combination of hardy hedges and grasses for coastal gardens will give you an outdoor space that is resilient, robust, and attractive.  Read ahead to learn more about our coastal garden ideas.

How to create a green or floral windbreak

If you live right on the coast (or at a higher elevation that receives strong gusts of wind), you might find it a good idea to create a ‘living windbreak.’ Windbreaks reduce wind speeds, protect your garden plants, and give shelter to local wildlife.

While you might think that high walls, rock formations, and solid fences would do the trick and block winds, this is a huge mistake. Winds will simply blow over these solid walls and create eddies in the air. These eddies can make the wind conditions even more severe down in your garden, creating damage and destroying your efforts.

  • Erect a fence or hurdles
    While a solid fence will cause bigger problems than no fence at all, a slatted fence is much more effective. Make sue that your fence is approximately 50% gaps.
  • Hedges are a classic choice – Hedges are a classic choice that look great and keep things in your garden green and lush. Choose a local hedging plant that thrives in your area. Some common choices include hawthorn, escallonia, and rosa rugosa.
  • Trees are a lovely windbreak – Plenty of coastal gardeners have success with rows of tall trees or shrubs as a windbreak. Another option is a tall grass good coastal gardens, ornamental miscanthus grass.
  • Consider a ‘fedge’ – Can’t decide between a fence or a hedge? Go for a ‘fedge’ – a row of braided or woven live willow stems (withies) that will grow into an attractive and effective windbreak.

Exotic Seaside Garden

If you are in a warmer coastal climate such as the South of England, there are some exotic looking plants that thrive[1]. The Jelly Palm is the kind of ‘palm tree’ that you’d expect to see on an exotic holiday abroad; however it’s one of the best coastal garden ideas if you’re looking for something that looks like it’s from across the seas. The Chusan palm also has beautiful exotic looking fan leaves that give that holiday feeling. Arum lilies also love the sea air, and these thrive in a warm coastal garden. This traditional pure white lily flower is just stunning.

Other Coastal Garden Ideas

Of course there are some great tips for coastal gardening[2] that can mean you can grow other plants that aren’t intended for those kind of areas. Ensuring that you create some kind of a wind break if you are in a particularly windy spot can help to let plants and shrubs become more established. The Royal Horticultural Society gives a great comprehensive list of plants that thrive in coastal areas.

Famous British gardener Alan Titchmarsh says[2] it’s no use trying to create a normal garden as most standard lawns, fruit and veg plants and flowers won’t survive the tougher conditions of the coast. He also suggests using nautical themed decoration such as rope, fish netting and driftwood to give that seaside feel that compliments those beautiful plants and grasses for coastal gardens. He also suggests planting with lower ground covering plant that will avoid the wind – the wind will literally swoop over them and so won’t prevent them from growing well. Plants like armeria and Profusion are great ground huggers that grow low.

What types of plants and grasses are good for coastal gardens?

If you want your coastal garden to thrive and flourish, you need to choose hedges, grasses, plants, and flowers that can handle high winds.

Geranium Geranium – ‘G. sanguineum’

Geraniums are hardy, beautiful, and a perfect addition to any coastal garden. While there are hundreds of species of geraniums, the Glenluce is particularly suited to windy settings.

Sunshine – ‘Brachyglottis compacta’

Brachyglottis (also known as Sunshine) are a hardy and rugged evergreen shrub. They produce a hairy green leaves, and flower with yellow flowers in the summer. They can handle salt in the air and drought, and they look great in a coastal garden.

Mexican Feathergrass – ‘Stipa tenuissima’

Mexican feathergrass (Stipa tenuissima) is one of the best grasses for coastal gardens. The yellow green fronds flutter nicely in the wind, and looks chic and sophisticated

Hawthorn – ‘Crataegus monogyna’

Hawthorn is so named for its fruits, also known as ‘haws.’ This plant makes a great hedge, and will attract a lot of bees and wildlife to your garden.

Star of Persia – ‘Allium cristophii’

The Star of Persia produces huge balls of tiny purple flowers, making this one of the prettiest and most dramatic in your coastal garden. It looks great along side ornamental grasses.

Sea Holly – ‘Eryngium variifolium’

Sea holly is tough and robust, and it looks great in a coastal garden. Its star shaped flowers will emerge in July and August each year.

Bowles’s Mauve – ‘Erysimum’

These bold and bright wallflowers will bloom throughout the early summer to late autumn. They might be short lived, but you can grow new plants from your cuttings.

Firecracker  – ‘Cordyline’

The bright purplish pink leaves might be spiky, but they look gorgeous in a garden. They need moist soil, and can handle part shade or full sun.

Six Hills Giant Catmint –  ‘Nepeta Cataria’

Many coastal gardeners extol the virtues of catmint, and the ‘Six Hills Giant’ is a big, bold, and hardy species. Infuse the leaves in hot water to make a lovely tisane, and enjoy all of the bees that come to visit your garden.

Coastal Garden Fruit and Veg

Just because your garden is by the sea it doesn’t mean you can’t grow your own fruit and veg[3]. The main issue is that the soil is very salty, so you need to create the perfect environment for fruit and vegetables to flourish. One great idea is to create a raised bed and fill it with nutrient-rich compost that will be a fantastic foundation for healthy fruit and vegetables to flourish. Also consider using pots, hanging baskets and grow bags to give the same perfect conditions. Leafy vegetables like kale and spinach can grow fairly well in salty soil as can beets and asparagus so if you must plant directly into the soil these are a good idea. As with any fruit and vegetables, coastal plants will need pest control to ensure that the bugs don’t munch your produce before you get the chance.

So there you have it – some great coastal garden ideas to give you a bright, beautiful and perhaps even edible garden if you do like to be beside the seaside!

Anna Sharples

Anna is the marketing and office manager for Garden Benches - a premium supplier of high-quality wooden benches and other outdoor furniture.

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