Many of us dream of a house with a sea view, whether it is a quaint cottage or a steel and glass designer pad. But the perfect oceanfront home can present a whole range of issues when it comes to designing your perfect garden. Holly Melton from Clonakilty Garden Centre advises on how to get it right.
There are many different factors you have to take in to account when planning your seaside garden. The main one is location. It is an entirely different thing to be designing a garden in Glengariff, with its wonderful micro-climate that allows you to grow all manner of exotic things, to planning one on top of the Galley Head! You will have to consider just how exposed you are — whether you are in a sheltered bay or feeling the full front of the prevailing southwesterly coming in off the Atlantic. Though the basic principles of design will remain the same; what you want the garden to be used for, its style and amount of maintenance involved? You need to answer those questions first, and then apply the results to fit into your gardens situation.
One of the most important elements of seaside gardening is working out how you will provide shelter. The hardest part of this is how to protect your garden without blocking those all-important sea views. If you have the space, the best thing to do is plant trees and hedging in several lines of defence. That way you can plant tougher but maybe less attractive screening closer to the sea, and that can shelter a more attractive screen closer to your house. This will take time to establish though. A windbreak will definitely help this grow faster, and allow you go get on with the rest of your garden sooner.
Then comes the tricky question of what to plant in your garden. Being closer to the shore means that on the whole you have fewer frosts in the winter, which gives you more options. I always advise people to take a good look around them to see what survives in your location. Perhaps you have inherited a garden. Take a look and see what thrives. Or if you are starting a garden from scratch, ask your neighbours what grows well for them. Scour people’s front gardens. Have a nose around in the hedge rows. If you find something you like and you don’t know what it is, take a photo to your local garden centre. They should be able to identify it, and show you other plants that grow in the same conditions.
Having a seaside garden is both a wonderful and scary thing, even for the most experienced gardeners. But with a bit of well thought out design and some clever planting it is not as daunting as it first appears. And you can create a thing of beauty that you can enjoy for years to come, literally on your own doorstep.