If a sea­side gar­den floats your boat...

Has your sum­mer break prompted you to cre­ate your own sea­side gar­den? Here’s what to do and the plants which should thrive.

Kent Messenger Maidstone - West Kent Property - - FRONT PAGE -

Go­ing on hol­i­day to the coast may fuel dreams of a life by the sea­side – but cre­at­ing a sea­side gar­den needs care­ful thought, bear­ing in mind the salt spray, strong winds and dry soil.

Here are a few ideas to get you started on your dream gar­den by the sea.

1. Cre­ate a wind­break

You need a strong wind­break to min­imise dam­age from the strong sea breezes, which will cre­ate shel­ter and help widen the choice of plants you’ll be able to grow. Plant a hedge or wind-fil­ter­ing bar­rier of trees or shrubs which are of good depth, prefer­ably planted in two or more stag­gered rows.

Good species for this job in­clude pine, alder, hawthorn and horn­beam. If you want to go for wil­low or po­plar, keep them well away from build­ings, as tree roots can cause dam­age to the fab­ric of build­ings and the drains.

Al­ter­na­tively, you could go for a fence-like wind­break such as wo­ven wat­tle or wil­low hur­dles which are avail­able from gar­den cen­tres or lo­cal crafts­men. Have a look in the clas­si­fied sec­tions of any of the gar­den­ing mag­a­zines and you should find what you want.

2. Test your soil

Buy a pH kit from your lo­cal gar­den cen­tre. Many sea­side gar­dens are high in al­ka­line be­cause of the high cal­cium con­tent of crushed sea shells. If you have al­ka­line soil, don’t plant lime-haters such as rhodo­den­dron or aza­lea, be­cause they won’t do well.

If your soil is sandy, beef it up with some or­ganic mat­ter to re­tain mois­ture and add nu­tri­ents. Once you have done this, mulch the area with com­post or chipped bark to keep in the mois­ture.

3. Choose plants care­fully

There are many plants which are tough enough to with­stand salt spray and sea breeze, but as a rule of thumb, you will find that those with tough, leath­ery leaves as well as spiny and hairy plants should have more re­sis­tance to dry­ing winds.

4. Check out neigh­bour­ing gar­dens

Walk around the area and make a note of the plants which are thriv­ing in neigh­bour­ing gar­dens, so you know what would do well in yours. Sea shells, nau­ti­cal an­tiques, washed-up tim­ber, stat­ues and even dis­used boats can be used or­na­men­tally.

5. Know what plants can thrive

Peren­ni­als which can be grown in a sea­side set­ting in­clude achil­lea, cro­cos­mia, eryn­gium (sea holly), echinops (globe this­tle), se­dum, heuchera (coral flower), eu­phor­bia, gaza­nia, scabiosa.

Suit­able shrubs and climbers

in­clude bud­dleia, berberis, genista (broom), cis­tus (rock rose), cean­othus, es­cal­lo­nia, weigela, hebe, lavat­era, pas­si­flora (pas­sion flower), ribes (or­na­men­tal cur­rant), ros­mar­i­nus (rose­mary).

Don’t for­get rock plants such as Arme­ria mar­itima, aubri­eta, di­anthus alpi­nus, phlox sub­u­lata, stachys, os­teosper­mum ju­cun­dum, erigeron karvin­skianus, iris pumila.

Wild­flow­ers grow­ing at Tanker­ton, near Whit­stable

Eryn­gium or sea holly as it is better known

A sea­side gar­den with flow­ers and foliage in Folke­stone

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