Seaside gardens pose their own special problems. To begin with, you have to strike a balance between openness to the sea view and providing shelter from the sea wind, which isn’t always a gentle zephyr. With salt picked up from the sea spray, the wind can cut any plant that gets in its way as effectively as a pair of pruning shears. Foliage and shoots can be injured by rubbing against each other or from dust or sand abrasion, or may be torn off altogether.
It takes a dense mass of growth to deflect the sea wind and protect plants that are not native to the seaside. If your site is blessed with shelterbelts of tough pines, hawthorns, tamarisk and griselinia, these can form the basis of your new garden design.
Within their embrace, resilient shrubs like fuchsias, hydrangeas and hebes can flourish. However, the soil in seaside gardens is likely to be poor stuff – sandy, thirsty and hungry for compost.
Maintaining a seaside gardens
Despite problems of exposure and damaging, salt-laden winds, seaside gardens do have distinct advantages over those inland. Light intensity is often higher with more sunshine hours, which allows the successful cultivation of sun-lovers like gazanias and argyranthemums. Not only will these plants grow to extra-large proportions in the free-draining soil, lack of frost may mean they carry on flowering all year round, unlike in colder areas where they have to be over-wintered indoors.
As on sloping sites, new plants need to be established quickly. This requires extra care, but the initial investment will pay dividens. Famous seaside gardens like Inverewe in Scotland have been created on what were previously barren peninsulas by the judicious use of windbreak plants.
Other good tips are to use green plastic netting to make temporary wind filters, to enrich the soil with organic matter, to retain moisture and plant young, healthy plants that will put out new roots and establish more rapidly than outsized specimens prone to wind damage and drying out.