CREATING A GARDEN BY THE SEA IS A BIT OF A BREEZE.AS holiday season approaches, many keen gardeners will be glad that they are visiting the seaside rather than actually living there.
Coastal gardens have a notorious reputation for being difficult to manage, thanks to the salt air and constant sea breeze.
It's true that these elements do limit the varieties of plants you can grow in a seaside garden.
But don't be deterred, because you can create a wonderful haven on the coast and you won't get the frosts that you do inland, thanks to the sea's moderating influence on temperature.
The secret is to create a garden which fits in with the setting - don't try to create, for instance, a cottage garden if the plants are going to be battered by wind and salt spray.
Use materials which match the setting. Pebbles, driftwood and shells are all ideal partners for plants which can take a coastal hammering.
First of all, though, consider a sturdy windbreak if you don't have one.
Surprisingly, some trees can thrive close to the sea, including the evergreen strawberry tree (Arbutus arbutus
Any of about 14 species (genus Arbutus) of broad-leaved evergreen shrubs or trees, in the heath family. Native to southern Europe and western North America, they are characterized by loosely clustered white or pink flowers and red or orange berries. A. unedo). But be warned, it will grow up to 25 feet (8 metres) if left unchecked.
Other suitable windbreaks include hawthorn and whitebeam.
You may need to buy a man-made windbreak to protect the young plants that will become your natural windbreak in a few years' time.
Willow fencing, up to around 6 feet, is one option which looks good and will protect your shrubs until they are large enough to look after themselves.
Once inside your protective screen, you can then opt for a few more normal plants, such as hardy fuchsias, brooms (Genista genista (jənĭs`tə): see broom. ) and escallonias.
Some perennial favourites which will provide colour for much of the year and will survive at the seaside if they have some shelter from the wind.
These include achillea, potentilla, red hot pokers (Kniphofia), bergenia, penstemon Penstemon
a North American genus of plants in the family Scrophulariaceae which act as facultative selenium converters; the selenocompounds produced by the plant cause alopecia, lameness, laminitis; called also beard tongue. , geranium geranium, common name for some members of the Geraniaceae, a family of herbs and small shrubs of temperate and subtropical regions. Their long, beak-shaped fruits give them the popular names crane's-bill (for species of the genus Geranium, , zantedeschia and crocosmia Crocosmia J. E. Planchon 1851, is a small genus of perennial species in the iris family Iridaceae, native to grasslands in the Cape region (South Africa).
They are commonly known in the United States as coppertips or falling stars, and in Britain as .
Don't forget that there are some advantages in that most seaside gardens have well-drained soil and those further south have a temperate climate and plenty of sunshine.
Despite the harsh con- ditions near the coast, gardeners who live by the sea need not bury their heads in the sand - it is possible to create a haven of colour.