Seaside Gardening Plants – Backyard Gardener

Seaside gardening

The almost constant enemies of seaside gardening are wind, salt and sand. Frost, however, is neither so prolonged nor so severe on the coast as it is inland, and seaside gardeners have been able to grow many frost-tender plants in the milder climate of their coastal gardens.

Inland gardeners have little idea how powerful is the effect of coastal wind on the growth of plants, and because none or few trees or buildings present a barrier to soften its effect during windy conditions the wind sweeps continuously in from the sea. Wind stunts and it deforms—one has only to observe the fantastic shapes of trees close to the sea to realise this.

Salt can kill outright. It is carried in the spray, and when the wind catches it, it is often deposited many hundreds of yards inland. Few plants are able to withstand the continual battering of sea wind heavily charged with salt, which is heavily scorching to plants.

Sand-blast is often too lightly regarded by newcomers to the coast, though its effect can be quite as damaging as salt’s. Seashore gardens suffer badly from its searing effect when the wind picks up the sand from a nearby beach. Small seedlings are killed and adult foliage is bruised and blackened.

The only answer to the problem of wind, salt and sand is shelter, and it is not possible to create a worthwhile garden in extremely exposed positions on the coast without it, though where a garden has protection a very wide range of plants will thrive which would not succeed in frosty gardens inland. Many plants will grow only when given adequate shelter at the outset, and the planting of newly-made gardens exposed to the full ravages of gales off the sea is rarely successful without the aid of some artificial wind-screen.

Planting of shelter belts of trees on a large scale benefits from an open fence of a two-bar wooden structure interwoven with foliage of gorse or spruce. For small gardens there is nothing better than a fence of wooden laths, 2.5cm (1in) wide with spaces of similar size, set vertically on a stout wooden framework and posts at either end for driving into the ground. Avoid a solid barricade such as a wall, which causes wind-turbulence on the lee side, since the aim is always to filter the wind rather than obstruct it.

Plants which tolerate salt and wind are nowadays very largely selected from those grown in Australia and New Zealand. As a result of long coastlines and varied climatic conditions more successful seaside shrubs have evolved in Australia and New Zealand than in any other part of the world. Shrubs that successfully resist salt-spray are planted facing the sea. These are often equipped with toughened leaves such as are found in the genus Olearia. 0. haastii and 0. albida stand any amount of salty wind. Others have shiny leaf surfaces. Euonymus japonicus and Griselinia littoralis look bright and glossy within a few yards of the sea. Or the leaves of some may be coated with a gummy secretion as in Escallonia macrantha, enabling them to endure a coating of salt. Yet another form of protection is afforded by a multitude of tiny hairs which cover the leaf surfaces of grey-leaved and silver-leaved shrubs. It is a curious fact that most of these are well adapted to withstand the first brunt of a salty blast. Sea buckthorn, Atriplex halimus, Senecio laxifolius and S. monroi are among the best we have for prominent positions in exposed coastal districts. If sand-blast is a menace, tamarisk will grow with its roots in pure sand and is also useful for adding height to rough banks and walls.

Shrubs for milder maritime areas

Abelia grandiflora

Abutilon megapotamicum

A. vitifolium

Artemisia canescens

Artemisia stelleriana Azara dentata

Artemisia microphylla

Berberis thunbergii atropurpurea superba

Buddleia auriculata

Buddleia globosa ‘Lemon Ball’

Buddleia nivea

Calceolaria integrifolia

Callistemon citrinus

Cassia corymbosa

Cassinia fulvida

Cassinia ledifolius

Cassinia leptophylla

Ceanothus ‘Autumn Blue

Ceanothus impressus

Ceanothus ‘Indigo’

Ceanothus rigidus

Ceanothus veitchianus

Centaurea gymnocarpa Choisya ternata

Cistus crispus ‘Sunset

Cistus ‘Paladin Pat’

Cistus palhinhaii

Cistus purpureus

Cistus skanbergii

Clianthus puniceus

Colquhounia vestita
Convolvulus cneorum

Corokia virgata

Crinodendron hookerianum

Daphne mezereum

Daphne odora

Desfontainea spinosa

Echium fastuosum

Elaeagnus macrophylla

Embothrium coccineum

Erica australis

Erica alpina

Erica lusitanicus

Escallonia hybrids

Eucalyptus globulus

Eucalyptus gunnii

Eucalyptus niphophylla

Eucalyptus pauciflora

Eupatorium micranthum

Fabiana imbricata

Fatsia japonica

Fremontia californica

Fuchsias (large-flowered)

Halimium alyssoides


Hoheria glabrata

Hoheria sexstylosa

Hebes (in variety to include H. hulkeana)

Helichrysum petiolatum

Helichrysum plicatum

Hypericum moserianum tricolor

Hypericum `Rowallane’

Jasminum polyanthum

Jasminum primulinum

Jovellana violacea

Lavandula stoechas

Lavatera assurgensifolia

Leonotis leonurus

Leptospermum scoparium nichollsii

Leptospermum’Red Damask’

Lippia citriodora

Muehlenbeckia complexa

Myrtus communis

Myrtus luma

Myrtus ugni

Olearia insignis

Olearia x scilloniensis

Olearia semidentata

Olearia solandri

Paulownia tomentosa

Phlomis fruticosa

Phlomis italica

Phormium tenax

Piptanthus laburnifolius

Pittosporum eugenioides

Pittosporum ralphii P. tobira

Polygala myrtifolia

Rosmarinus angustifolius

Rosmarinus ‘Corsican Blue’

Rosmarinus lavendulaceus

Rosmarinus ‘Majorca Pink

Rosmarinus ‘Severn Sea

Rosmarinus ‘Tuscan Blue

Salvia grahamiiinvolucrata bethellii

Sambucus nigra foliis aureus

Senecio cineraria

Senecio cineraria ‘White Diamond

Senecio glastifolius

Senecio huntii

Senecio heritieri

Senecio leucostachys

Senecio rotundifolius

Solanum crispum

Solanum jasminoides

Teucrium fruticans azureum

Yucca gloriosa

Shrubs for colder maritime areas

Amelanchier canadensis

Arbutus unedo

Atriplex canescens

Atriplex halimus

Aucuba japonica

Baccharis patagonica

Berberis aquifolium

Berberis darwinii

Berberis stenophylla

Berberis thunbergii atropurpurea

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