Last week we looked at some of the garden design issues facing those lucky enough to have a garden close to the coast. This week I’d like to share with you some of my favourite plants for growing in these challenging locations. The great benefit to living and gardening close to the sea is that frost is very rare, so you will get away with a wider variety of tender plants without winter protection than you would further inland. The downside, of course, is that strong, salty winds will be almost constant unless your garden is very sheltered, so plants need to be chosen with this in mind.
Fortunately, there are many plants that are happy by the seaside and some of them are absolutely gorgeous – it’s just a matter of choosing things from what I call my ‘Tough List’. Here are some of the most colourful candidates:
Agapanthus africanus– a no-brainer for seaside gardens. Globes of blue or white flowers in summer above elegant, straplike leaves, which can be deciduous or evergreen, there’s a variety for every garden.
Rosa rugosa – You’ll know this one by its rough, matt green leaves and deep pink tissue-like single flowers – a white one, ‘Alba’ is also available. Scarlet hips bring autumn colour and this medium sized shrub can be incorporated into borders or seaside hedges.
Geranium sanguineum ‘Magenta’ – a tough form of hardy geranium with attractively divided leaves and deep pink summer flowers, this grows wild along the Burren coast and is popularly known as the bloody cranesbill.
Rudbeckia ‘Goldsturm’ – Bright yellow daisy-shaped flowers from mid to late summer, this is a perennial best planted in drifts and intermingled with other late summer flowerers and grasses. A cheerful splash of yellow on well-drained soils.
Osteospermum jucundum – A low growing, spreading evergreen perennial for the front of a border with deep pink daisy-shaped blooms. Not to be confused with the smaller tender osteospermums for summer container planting, ‘Lady Leitrim’ is a very pretty mauve version.
Sea thrift thrives at the water’s edge but many other plants are happy by the seaside.
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