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We do like to grow beside the seaside; Want a taste of the coast at home? Here's how...

despite living on an island, for many inland and city dwellers, the seaside is often only enjoyed on an annual trip in August - and only if the weather is good enough to beckon us to the beach.

And while there, many keen gardeners may look on in envy at some of the coastal plant life you see growing in the beachfront gardens.

But although some coastal plants are tender and will only thrive in milder frost-free maritime settings, many are hardy and tough, surviving the battering of salt-laden winds.

This means they can work just as well in any home - so you can bring back some of the shoreline sparkle to your back garden.

Eryngium, or sea holly, is a classic seaside plant that is often included in herbaceous borders for its dramatic electric blue stems and thistle-like flowers.

It flowers late in the summer and its seed head will continue to look good well into autumn. The long-lasting flowers also dry well for floral arrangements - just cut and hang upside down for 10 days. It will thrive in welldrained soil in the sunniest part of the garden.

The world's first golden sea holly was introduced to the garden world in 2014 - it's called Neptune's Gold. The flower is still blue but the foliage has beautiful golden tinges.

Or for something dramatic, try the giant sea holly which is tall and silver, including the flower head. It's also known as Miss Willmott's Ghost, after the celebrated English plantswoman Ellen Willmott who was so fond of it she would scatter seeds surreptitiously as she toured other gardens - and its ghostly silvery outline became a legacy of her visits!

Agapanthus is often found in coastal gardens, and on a sunny day, the blue flowers mirror the azure sky and sea. It's a firm favourite of mine - I love the drama of their spherical flower heads held atop sturdy stems.

It's perfect for containers but also great among the borders - good drainage is key here so add grit to your pots and soil.

For giant white globes, try A. umbellatus Albus, and for the best and longest flowering blue, 'Blue Storm' is the one to choose. They like their roots compressed so keep them tight in pots or closely planted en masse. Feed twice a year with fish and bonemeal fertiliser.

Depending on your region, you can either overwinter plants in greenhouses if they are in containers or cover with bark mulch outdoors to protect from frost. My third choice is a grass as that's the plant I most associate with the beach, especially Marram grass that knits the sand dunes together.

Cortaderia richardii is a relative of the pampas grass but is smaller and hence more suitable for average gardens. Its feathery plumes are more slender but still dramatic in their arching forms. This evergreen grass is hardy and needs minimal care - just a combing in early spring to get rid of dead leaves - but mind your hands, the leaves are razor sharp so wear gloves.

My final choice for a nauticallyinspired garden is the aptly named Angel's fishing rods. Dierama's elegant bending stems and fragile bell-shaped flowers make it appear delicate, but really it's a hardy perennial.

Give it plenty of space to arch out and make sure it neither dries out in summer nor gets waterlogged in winter. It will do well in a pot and would look really well with the Cortaderia.

So take inspiration from our wonderful landscape wherever you go this summer and make sure to plant a little bit of it back home!

I associate grass with the beach - it knits sand dunes together

CAPTION(S):

Eryngium alpinum, or sea holly

Sturdy agapanthus africanus

Dierama pulcherrimum, or Angel's fishing rods

NATURE'S FINEST Top, Miss Willmott's Ghost, above, seaside plant Eryngium bourgatii, sea holly, right, Cortaderia richardii, a relative of the pampas grass
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 6, 2016
Words:646
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