|Billowing agapanthus on the Isles of Scilly
Image: Shutterstock/Andrew Roland
Dramatic, windswept, wild coastal gardens are one of a kind. But exposure to strong winds, salty sea spray, and dry, sandy soils, can make the coast a harsh environment for plants.
Here are some simple ways to make the most of coastal conditions and create your perfect garden by the sea.
|Coastal flowers protected by cottage walls
Image: Peter Turner Photography
Coastal gardens are often exposed to strong winds, making growing conditions difficult for plants. The first step toward getting the garden of your dreams is to install a suitable barrier to protect your space from the wind.
Avoid solid screens like walls and fences, which can cause turbulence. Instead, use something that can filter the wind and slow it down.Hedges, groups of trees and shrubs, or living willow screening will do the trick. Use them as a windbreak to create sheltered pockets within your garden. For a temporary fix, polypropylene webbing will make a suitable shelter belt or try artificial hedging .
|Echium candicans (Pride of Madeira) grows well in coastal gardens
Image: Shutterstock/Peter Turner Photography
If your soil is sandy it will be prone to drying out quickly and may be nutritionally poor. Higher levels of salt in the earth will also increase moisture loss. Its important you incorporate lots of organic matter such as well-rotted manure, compost and recycled green waste into your soil before planting, to improve growing conditions. Adding flint, gravel or shingle will also help conserve moisture at the roots.
tabilise sandy banks by growing dense ground-cover plants such as Delosperma, Osteospermum or grasses all of which will grow happily in poor soils. These will prevent your soil from blowing away in the wind.
Gather seaweed to feed to your plants. It makes a great natural fertiliser and can be dug straight into the soil once you have washed the salt from it.
|Many plants will flourish in a coastal garden
Image: Shutterstock/Neil Duggan
When it comes to choosing the best plants for your coastal garden there are a few things to bear in mind. Plants from naturally harsh environments are well suited to growing in coastal gardens. So look for plants with tough, leathery or hairy leaves, which prevent salt damaging the leaf surface, and also reduce moisture loss. Grasses are good coastal-garden plants as many have tough, narrow leaves, which are good at resisting the effects of wind, salt and dry conditions.
Coastal locations often have a mild climate allowing you to grow more exotic plants. Hardy palms will flourish in coastal areas of Southern Britain, while pretty Acacia dealbata will appreciate the frost-free conditions of many coastal gardens.
Find plants whose Latin name contains 'maritima' (of the sea) or 'littoralis' (of the shore) and you can be sure youve got a coastal plant that will be happy in your garden.
Look around at your neighbours gardens or better still, talk to them to get an idea of which plants grow well in your area.
Lastly, print out the table below, which lists some of the best coastal plants. Use it to decide which plants you want in your coastal garden.
Now you know how to protect, nurture and grow plants in your coastal garden. Wed love to see what youve achieved. Share photos of your gardens with us via our Facebook page.
|Acacia dealbata||Berberis||Achillea||Anemanthele lessoniana||Alyssum||Allium|
|Alder (Alnus)||Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa)||Argyranthemum||Calamagrostis x acutiflora||Calendula||Crocosmia|
|Arbutus unedo (Strawberry Tree)||Cordyline||Armeria (Sea Pink)||Corynephorus||California Poppy||Crocus|
|Ash (Fraxinus excelsior)||Cotoneaster||Centranthus ruber||Festuca glauca||Clarkia||Daffodil|
|Bay tree (Laurus nobilis)||Eleagnus x ebbingei||Delosperma||Miscanthus sinensis||Echium||Muscari|
|Cytisus (Broom)||Euonymus japonicus||Dianthus deltoides||Molinia caerulea (Purple Moor Grass)||Gazania||Nerine|
|Eucalyptus||Griselinia littoralis||Eccremocarpus scaber||Pampas grass (Cortaderia)||Lavatera trimestris||Scilla|
|Pine||Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna)||Erigeron||Panicum virgatum (Switch Grass)||Limnanthes (Poached Egg Flower)||Tulip|
|Sorbus (Mountain Ash)||Heather||Eryngium||Pennisetum alopecuroides||Livingstone Daisy (Dorotheanthus)|
|Holly||Fascicularia bicolour||Pennisetum setaceum 'Fireworks'||Tagetes (Marigold)|
|Rosa rugosa (Ramanas Rose)||Red Hot Poker|
|Sea Buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides)||Sedum|
|Willow (Salix purpurea)||Thyme|
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