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YOUR GARDEN: DESIGN IT Be beside the seaside.

Byline: Adrienne Wild

BRING the seaside to your doorstep and holiday at home every weekend with the right plants and a few well- chosen accessories. Dust down the deckchair - you're going to need it.

To start with choose a sunny corner to create your beach resort - in front of a painted hut or summerhouse would be an ideal spot - and use trellis or woven willow fencing to screen the area from the rest of the garden.

Plant bamboos such as the clump- forming phyllostachys aureocaulis with its orange yellow canes, or phyllostachys nigra that has black canes, which will rustle in the wind and, if you use your imagination, even sound like waves crashing on the shore.

Different-sized pebbles, rounded cobbles and boulders in bold, naturalistic drifts denote the sitting area and if you have space consider decking to create a platform for your table and chairs. Lay pebbles on weed-free soil or over a fabric weed-proof membrane.

Select plants such as grasses that resemble those found on sand dunes. A great choice would be the evergreen stipa arundinacea or pheasants tail grass, which forms a graceful mound of knee-high leaves that are tinged with orange in winter.

Consider using the blue-leaved festuca grasses to create the effects of the sea. Remember that you're only restricted by your imagination.

In the gravel areas, plant ground- hugging sea thrift or armeria maritima, the aster-like flowers of erigeron glucus and thyme.

For borders you'll find that the best planting inspiration comes from real seaside towns, so why not plan a weekend recce? Coastal gardens often feature the shrubby tree tamarisk, brooms or cytisus, cistus, escalonia, lavatera, hardy fuchsias, hypericum, Spanish gorse and mophead hydrangeas, plus lots of windproof spiky-leaved plants like yuccas and phormiums.

In the flowerbeds you'll usually find red hot pokers, sea kale, crambe maritima, and the thistle- like sea holly eryngium maritinum. All these plants thrive in thin, stony banks and well-drained soils.

Finally, accessorise your "beach" with pieces of driftwood, frayed rope and netting, life belts, scallop shells, lanterns, lobster pots and other seaside artefacts.

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SHINGLE LIFE: Crambe maritima
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:May 18, 2003
Words:353
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