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You are shore to love this; You can conjure up the feel of the seaside in your garden, no matter where you live, simply by choosing the right coastal plants.

THE garden at Glebe Cottage isn't huge but we are lucky in having a variety of situations which, to my delight, means we can grow a diverse range of plants.

On a short stroll you can discover woodland (a few trees with shade-loving plants growing under them) then take in a boggy bit where a little stream creates moisture all year round.

Across the track on the west there are open beds and borders where all manner of perennials live happily together, creating colour and interest for months on end. Some flower late into autumn when this part of the garden takes on a lovely warm glow.

Separating these from the top of the garden are hot beds, where rich, deep soil affords a home for plants that love to luxuriate. Running through the hot beds is a thick box hedge in a waving line. It creates areas where, thanks to its protection, tender plants survive.

Above it is the brick garden where, in small beds between brick paths, we experiment with foliage and plants with blue and yellow flowers.

And tucked into one corner of this area, protected by the dry-stone wall of a long raised bed, is what has come to be known as the seaside garden.

The soil is poor and I've spent ages making it poorer by digging in grit and sand. Its drainage is sharp now and this sheltered nook is probably the warmest part of the garden - it gets every second of sunshine.

At the front of this bed is a huge stone. Its top is about a metre square and it's perhaps a foot deep - just perfect for lounging about in the sun, which is exactly what my mum used it for.

It was the "first cup of tea and cigarette of the day" stone, or the "last gin and tonic and cigarette of the day" stone.

It was Mum's inspiration in imbuing the whole place with a relaxed holiday air that was responsible for it being called the seaside garden. We've tried to create the atmosphere of the seaside without employing obvious tactics - not an anchor or a lobster pot in sight.

Principally, it is the plants that conjure up the sound of waves. Familiar plants of cliff face and shingle shore are bound to do well in a position like this.

Right now we're remaking our seaside bed. One of the first plants to go in is the striking sea kale, crambe maritima. In spring, crinkled tufts of indigo purple push their way through the shingle at the end of last year's corky stems.

Rapidly they open into a groundhugging rosette, their colour bleaching to glaucous grey blue, their frilly leaves becoming thicker and more succulent.

The surface and shape of the leaves are designed to channel moisture into its centre. Clouds of white flowers are headily honey scented and followed by branching seed heads smothered in stone-coloured beads.

Wherever they grow, plants have evolved, adapting themselves to the prevailing conditions. Coastal plants need to be tough. They are exposed to squally winds and baking sun. Often they have tap roots that plunge deep into the sand, searching for nutrients and fresh water and mooring them to the shore.

In our gardens they employ the same techniques and although there may be little need to guard against being swept away, the ability to withstand drought is an important attribute. Drought-tolerant shrubs are few and far between. Several belong to the pea family, fixing nitrogen in surrounding soil. Coronilla valentina 'Citrina' has to be the star. Clustered heads of lemon pea flowers exude a fresh, fruity fragrance - a delight throughout the season and in mild winter spells.

Scent is a feature of many maritime plants - in the exposed conditions of the coast, insects are a rare sight so plants compete with fragrance. Many roses suffer in the sun but there are several coastal species that don't turn a hair when the going gets dry.

Rosa rugosa is often used as hedging and valued for glorious scented flowers and the orange hips that follow them, as well as for fresh green foliage turning yellow in autumn. It is an accommodating plant from the coasts of Japan and has naturalised on the Welsh shore.

Sea hollies are much lauded although the majority are from the mountains of Europe and the Near East. Species such as Eryngium bourgatii, in particular its blue and violet forms, are versatile plants, thriving in arid conditions and gracing hot, dry beds with colour and sparkle from their spiky bracts.

Eryngium maritimum is the true sea holly - difficult to grow unless in pure sand. See it for yourself on our coasts. Even in the heart of the city plants can summon in our minds the taste of salt or sound of shingle shifting in the waves.

ASK CAROL QI MISSED the boat for sowing winter vegetables. What can I do now? Catherine Holmes ANEVER fear, Catherine, there are lots of veg you can still sow successionally - carrots, beetroot, chard and perpetual spinach would all work well. And you can also sow salads at any time of the year. In fact you can keep them going through the winter. Check seed companies' ' websites for winter vegetable plug plants.

QI''VE got a few Astrantia "Roma" plants and I love them.

Can I grow more from seed? Jean Forsyth, by email AIT''S a sterile hybrid so sets no seed but you can divide your existing plants next winter when they become dormant.

Pot them up and grow them on before planting outside.

Grow your own carrots


Roma is a sterile hybrid

Coronilla valentina is a star shrub

Carol remakes the bed of her seaside garden in Glebe Cottage
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Jun 15, 2013
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