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This garden was designed by Carole Baxter back in 1997 and was built by our then resident team of gardeners. The idea was to design not only a garden that was inspired by the seaside, but also one that could survive a maritime exposure. The use of rusty chains trailing in waves between cut down telegraph poles gives the impression of an old pier. Fishing floats, lobster pots and broken shells in the gravel path all help to suggest a walk on the tide line, beachcombing. The edging for the path is made from recycled plastic. In more recent years, we've added a lovely bench carved with a seaside theme, and in 2008 the Drystone Walling Association built a fantastic wall around the edge of the garden.

The choice of plants is also important. Most people enjoy being by the seaside, but for some plants it can be a life and death struggle. Salt spray and strong winds combine to damage vulnerable plants and will stunt and twist even tough resilient shrubs. Bearing this in mind, Carole made sure that our seaside garden had a good network of hedges surrounding it. Plants such as Griselinia littoralis, Rosa rugosa or Fuchsia rickartonii will stand up to maritime exposure. Our garden is not that close to the sea (about 7 miles) but if it were, hedging plants would have been used to protect the other more tender plants in the seaside garden from the worst of the wind and salt spray.

Carole also decided to go with a selective colour scheme of of blue, yellow and white to follow the seaside theme. So we try to choose bedding plants such as Orlaya grandiflora, Felicia amelloides and blue and yellow pansies that fall in with the theme.

If you are gardening near the sea, plant choice will be dictated by your surroundings. The plants that grow well near the sea tend to have narrow, strap-like leaves (like grasses or spanish gorse) or thick, waxy leaves (like Griselinia).

It might be worthwhile using some windbreak material to shelter new plants or hedges until they establish themselves, especially if they are in an exposed situation. Plant more tender specimens in the lee of a wall or near a larger plant to give them a better chance to establish.

One of the plus points if you garden by the sea is escaping really hard frosts - it's rare to see the massive plunges in temperature that you get further inland. Maintenance for this type of garden, once established, is relatively easy. We mulch the borders at Beechgrove with spent mushroom compost and this helps to keep the weeds down and improve the soil structure. The hedges are cut once a year and all plants are given an annual feed with a granular slow release fertiliser. Hoeing in sunny weather really helps to control annual weeds.

Some of Carole's favourite plants for the seaside include:

Eucalyptus pauciflora ssp niphophila - this excellent specimen plant is incredibly hardy. Its form and foliage should endear it to anyone interested in gardening in difficult climates.

Caragana arborescens - commonly known as the Siberian Pea Tree

Cortaderia selloana 'Pumila' - this pampas grass is a smaller form, but it still takes up about a square metre. The strappy, arching leaves and ivory plumes add great structure to the garden.

Griselinia littoralis - this evergreen shrub is often used as a hedging plant. It is well known in the west of Scotland, but we grow it equally well here in Aberdeen.

Eringeum giganteum - a great Scottish seaside plant, with its thistley, purple-blue flower heads.

Stachys byzantina - also known as Lamb's Lugs, this soft groundcover can really brighten up border with its silver green leaves.

Geranium 'Phillippe Vapelle' - geraniums are so reliable, and the violet-blue flowers of this variety add real vibrance to the garden.

Armeria sp. - sea thrift is commonly found growing naturally at the seaside. There are several varieties now to choose from with flowers in a range of pinks, purples and whites. These plants also tend to have a long flowering period and are a must have seaside plant.

Carex sp. - there are loads of varieties, from golden to variegated to bronze (like ours). Many varieties self-seed, which can add a relaxed feel that suits a seaside garden.

Festuca glauca - this silvery blue grass forms a lovely little clump and looks great planted in a group or on its own in a pot.

Supplier information:


Recycled plastic edging from:
BPI Recycled Products
College Road
Dumfries
DG2 0BU
Tel: 01387 247110

Drystone Walling Association
www.dswa.org.uk

Bench provided by:
galgael
15 Fairley St
Ibrox
Glasgow
G51 2SN
Tel: 0141 427 3070
Fax: 0141 427 4551
Web: www.galgael.org