Coastal Gardens

Coastal Gardening Book – Intro – Chapters: – 1234567891011121314151617CreditsIndex
Feature gardens: Prospect CottageTrescoAbbotsburyRBG SydneyBodnantMadeira BG Brookgreen

Many of us dream of living on the coast, but how to tackle the sometimes tricky planting conditions that coastal gardening demands? This inspirational and practical book explains how to design, plan and plant up your garden by the sea, making the most of the coastal microclimate.

An exposed situation, extremes of weather, soil type and salty air can be difficult to deal with. Learn how to design and choose the right plants that will thrive, whether it be a windswept, sheltered, container, productive or tropical and exotic-looking garden.


Having a place near to the Coast brings so much pleasure. If your property is close enough to the sea, you may have fine views and even be able to enjoy the soothing ‘whoosh’ of the waves as they lap against the beach – or crash if the weather is more stormy. You do not have to move too far inland and away from the coastline to be able to take in the misty, salty air and enjoy the summer breezes, whereas further inland the air could be sultry and oppressive. For many, being by the coast brings a certain peace and tranquillity that is good for the soul. This is, after all, why so many people retire to the coast or choose to have second homes there. They can get away from it all and recharge their batteries.

For a keen gardener, a seaside property provides as many as challenges it does opportunities. A coastal garden can suffer high-tide flooding, for example. Or it could sit atop several feet of extremely free-draining sandy soil which lacks goodness, does not retain moisture, and becomes scorching hot in summer. Or the garden could bathe in harsh sunlight that turns the most delicate plants to a crisp.

The two most important issues facing a coastal garden are wind and salt. Wind can collect out at sea, gather some speed as it surges towards land, then charge through your coastal garden, leaving near devastation in its wake. This can be a regular occurrence. In many cases, as it hurls and twirls out at sea it whips up salty spray and, like a puppy bringing a stick, it carries the spray onto the shoreline, which results in a deposit of sea salt all over our gardens. This salt is certainly detrimental to the long-term wellbeing of wood and metal items in the garden, but it can be deadly to plants – or at least some plants.

This is the key thing. You must know which plants to grow in your coastal garden. You must know how to integrate them to best advantage, and how to grow and maintain them. Your taste in plants and colour schemes will change and evolve over the years, and should you ever move to a second seaside property you can delight in growing an entirely different range of plants. We say this with confidence for, as you will discover later in this book, there are so many excellent seaside plants from which to choose.

As joint authors of this book we hope it will be as useful to you as it is beautiful. Our aim is to tell you and show you which flowers, trees, shrubs, vegetables and fruits will thrive in gardens that are close to the sea. You will see how they work in established gardens, and there are plans for you to follow or adapt in your own coastal havens.

We have both been around long enough to have travelled extensively, and in our global trottings we have seen many hundreds of seaside and coastal gardens which are all paradises on Earth. Some were large private estates with magnificent views, whilst others were tiny courtyards. Some were entirely exposed to the elements, whilst others were sheltered enough to grow exotic plants. This book is a collection and a celebration of them. Thankfully our cameras were always working, and so we are delighted to show you just some of the wonderful seaside gardens we’ve seen. And to pass on some of the tips and advice picked up on the way.

John Bickerton & Graham Clarke

About the authors...

John Bickerton has been a passionate gardener since childhood. He trained as a designer and gained a wealth of experience in this area working for Amateur Gardening and Your Garden magazines. He designed and co-ordinated their show gardens at Chelsea Flower Show, Hampton Court Flower Show, Ideal Home, Amateur Gardening Spring Show and the National Amateur Gardening Shows and achieved a Gold Medal at Chelsea Flower Show in 1998. He now manages his own garden design business.

Graham Clarke was trained in horticulture at the Royal Horticultural Society Garden, Wisley, and then spent a year working in the gardens
at Buckingham Palace. He has been a gardening writer for over 25 years and is author of many popular books, including The Organic Fruit and Vegetable Gardener’s Year also published by GMC Publications.
A former editor of Horticulture Week, Graham still contributes to this industry favourite as well as Amateur Gardening and The Garden.





Chapter 1
Why live near the coast?

Chapter 2
The challenges of coastal gardening

Chapter 3
The value of good garden design


Chapter 4
Shoreline gardens

Chapter 5
Sheltered gardens

Chapter 6
Container gardens

Chapter 7
The productive coastal garden

Chapter 8
Tropical and exotic-looking



Chapter 9
Tough customers

Chapter 10
Coastal trees and hedging

Chapter 11
Colourful coastal plants

Chapter 12
Stunning foliage for colour

Chapter 13
Annuals and bedding plants
for colour

Chapter 14
Ground cover plants

Chapter 15
Climbers and wall plants

Chapter 16
Best plants for shade

Chapter 17
Best sun-loving plants

Useful resources

Photographic credits


First published 2009 by Guild of Master Craftsman Publications Ltd, Castle Place, 166 High Street, Lewes, East Sussex BN7 1XU
Text © John Bickerton and Graham Clarke 2009 © in the Work GMC Publications 2009 ISBN: 978-1-86108-636-5 All rights reserved
The right of Graham Clarke and John Bickerton to be identified as the authors of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, sections 77 and 78. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior permission of the publisher and copyright owner. This book is sold subject to the condition that all designs are copyright and are not for commercial reproduction without the permission of the designer and copyright owner. The publishers and authors can accept no legal responsibility for any consequences arising from the application of information, advice or instructions given in this publication.

© Coastal Gardens 2001-2012