Want your own seaside garden? Here’s how you can get the look

Flowers growing by a seaside cottage
8:00am, Tue 06 Jul 2021
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With visits to the seaside looking likely this summer, you may find inspiration from gardens along the coast, whether it’s wind-resistant plants, or the charming accessories gardeners have added.

Marcus Eyles, horticultural director at Dobbies Garden Centres (dobbies.com), says: “Plants for coastal gardens need to be resilient to salt, sun and wind. A classic seaside look has a relaxed feel, filled with greenery, ornamental grasses and pops of colour.

“Turn challenges into opportunities, working with the natural landscape by choosing coastal plants that are native to the area.

“Enhancing the overall look of the space, they will feel right at home in seaside gardens, happily growing in temperamental conditions,” Eyles adds. “Depending on the location, warmth from the sea can protect from frost, so some more tender plants can be grown in these areas.”

Eyles offers the following tips to give your garden a seaside feel…

Sea breezy plant picks

Sea Holly (eryngium): Making a bold statement, these spiky plants grow upright and are long lasting. With striking, thistle-like flowers, they prefer a sunny spot and dry, well-draining soil. They are also a favourite with bees and butterflies.

Mexican orange blossom (choisya): These large bushy plants are hardy shrubs, with glossy green leaves and white flowers. They are relatively low maintenance, growing happily in full sun, making them an ideal pick for coastal gardens.

Elaeagnus: A good option to create a border, this shrub can grow rapidly, working well if you want to add some extra privacy and have a big enough space to accommodate it. With small fragrant flowers hidden among the foliage, it will flourish in full sun and will withstand salty breezes.

Sea thrift (armeria): Adding a pretty pop of colour with deep pink foliage, sea thrifts are a charming addition to gardens by the coast. A versatile plant that’s easy to grow, and the long flowering season – April to August – will brighten up your outdoor space. You’ll often see these flowers along coast paths and cliff tops, confirming them as a top pick for an authentic coastal garden.

Griselinia: Another good choice for a garden hedge, this evergreen shrub will survive windswept weather, acting as a barrier for other plants. Garden birds will be attracted to the small purple fruits produced in autumn.

Ornamental grasses: A regular feature along British beaches, grasses will add height, structure and extra protection from windy conditions. Varieties we recommend include Calamagrostis arundinacea and Carex oshimensis ‘Evergold’, which has variegated foliage.

Malva or lavatera (mallow): Ideal for attracting birds and butterflies, with large, nectar-rich open blooms, they can grow in a variety of soil types, from well-draining to heavy clay and sandy soils.

Perovskia (Russian sage): With gorgeous clusters of lavender-coloured flowers that bloom from mid-summer to autumn, this plant is drought and salt tolerant. They can grow up to 3ft tall, adding height and interest in gardens. You can plant them on their own or in groups for more impact.

Kniphofia (red hot poker): With green foliage and red, orange and yellow flowers, these will bring a touch of exotic. They can cope with exposed or sheltered conditions and prefer well-draining soil. Flowers will put on a long-lasting display and are popular with butterflies.

Pittosporum: Slow growing, with sweetly scented white and yellow flowers and glossy leaves, this tall shrub makes another good windbreak in coastal gardens. A low-maintenance option, they just need occasional pruning and well-draining soil to keep them looking their best.

Wavy coastal design

A pebble path in a garden (Alamy/PA)

For a laid-back, relaxed coastal garden look, incorporate weathered wood, pebbles and rounded pea gravel into the design scheme.

Use clever planting to create windbreaks, with sweeping plantings of evergreen shrubs.

Plant grasses in drifts to allow the wind to create the movement in the tall stems, and use perennial flowers in bold groups of complementary colours, with soft shades of creamy lilacs and lavender purple foliage.

Ship ahoy accessories

Garden accessories can be used to give a nod to the seaside. Add a selection of nautical striped cushions, throws, and a selection of recycled glass bottles and lanterns in shades of sea blue. Layering the space up with some finishing touches will soften the overall look and feel.

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