By katepaterson, Jun 20 2014 11:54AM
Last year we created a garden right on the sea front in Hoylake, Wirral. I knew I had my work cut out for me when I went to survey the garden. It was impossible to stand up in the wind let alone measure. I had no understanding of the strength of the sea winds up until that point. I knew I had to find some pretty tough coastal plants to stand up to the winds, blown in sand and salt spray. The client also wanted seating areas but I realised I had to suggest the most naturally sheltered places in the garden for this and let the site determine the design and not the other way round. We created seating areas within the woodland area towards the back of the garden, a sheltered terrace around the back of the house, a seating area within a stone 'fort' on the sea front and the final area was by the sea front in a place where they naturally went to enjoy the views because it was so sheltered.
With the planting I spent hours and hours investigating plants that could stand up to the extreme coastal elements. I used tough shrubs in the more exposed areas to build up natural windbreaks and then planted grasses and coastal loving perennials. I made the decision to plant small plants rather than large. Everything seemed to be doing fine until the terrible storms hit earlier this year. Apparently the waves were breaking against the house windows - the old sea wall that had been there since the house was built was literally broken up like match sticks and I had very little hope for the plants.
The aftermath.... We went back there a few months to build a beautiful new sea wall out of stone. We had lost some plants namely: Erigerons, Choisya, and some Lavenders. However, most plants are really thriving now in particular the Knautia macedonia, Sea Holly, Sea thrift (self seeding everywhere), Stipa 'Pony Tails', Miscanthus 'Gracillimus", Agapanthus, Rosemary, Hemerocallis 'Stafford', Liriope muscari, Hydrangea 'Blue Wave', Rosa rugosa (various), Geranium "Rozanne", Perovskias and Euphobia characais subsp. 'Wulfenii'. Other plants in the woodland area such as ferns, Bergenias and Rhododendron 'Anah Krusch' whilst not going berserk - are coping well considering the tough conditions.