Garden trends - coast-inspired gardens

Resilience is a buzz word in garden design with designers looking to environments such as the coast, where plants are exposed to the extremes of weather, for planting inspiration.  The relaxed way these tough plants pop up in shingle, together with the weathered wood and natural textures found in coastal gardens, has an appealing informal feel – not to mention an air of escapism.

Observing the types of plants that grow in their natural coastal habitats is a good way to do your research.  Native coastal plants that enjoy sun but cope with wind and rain include Armeria maritima (thrift), spiky Eryngium maritimum with its thistle-like flowers, and even sea kale is a good starting point.

For a seaside feel, use colours that evoke big skies, the sea and sand such as blues, silvers, whites, and pops of yellow.  Sun-loving perennials to look out for include nepeta, salvia, scabious, fennel, gaura and verbascum.  White or pink valerian (Centranthus) often grows wild in shingle and is good in poor dry soil.  Mediterranean plants such as olives, lavender, rosemary, sage and thyme also thrive in free draining soil and suit coastal themed planting.  Spiky exotics such as agaves give impact, along with ornamental grasses such as tufty festuca as well as taller ornamental grasses such as Calamagrostis ‘Karl Foerster’, for height.  Containers and raised beds also help create a seaside feel, filled with plants such as sempervivum and aeonium.

When planning the hard landscaping, try to use natural materials such as reclaimed timbers from local reclamation yards, stone, and gravel from local quarries.  Weathered wood for fences and decking can add to the coastal look – perfect for lounging on when the sun comes out for that holiday vibe.