Check out our top tips for Cornish Coastal Planting from nursery owner Graham! This is in recognition of our tips launch in the new Cornwall Living magazine (pg. 59) – a magazine for anyone who loves Cornwall and loves living in Cornwall!
1. Look at your neighbour’s coastal garden and see what is growing well – if it does well next door or within your neighbourhood, it is likely to do well in your own garden. If you’re in a really exposed position on the Cornish coast, and have no easy point of reference, we advise visiting the gardens at St Michaels Mount or Minack Garden to get a good idea of what will grow well in your own garden.
2. Know how coastal you are – there is a world of difference between the exposed gardens on top of Land’s End or Sennen Head, and the coastal gardens of St Mawes or Falmouth, which are located in a more sheltered inlet. You can grow just about anything in more sheltered coastal gardens, whereas much greater care must be taken when choosing plants for a very exposed garden.
3. Take advantage of such a wonderful position – due to the warmth of the sea that sheltered coastal gardens in particular, are exposed to, the luxury of year-round milder temperatures will permit growth of more tender plants that would struggle inland. Patio plants for example, like Gazanias and Osteospermums, can do very well in these gardens, providing wonderful colour for longer.
4. Choose the right windbreak – one of the most important features of a coastal garden is the right hedge or windbreak, so that other plants can successfully establish themselves within the garden. Our top pick is Elaeagnus ebbingei, the hardiest, most salt-wind tolerant hedging plant that we have come across; which can be grown very close to the sea.
5. Do everything you can to avoid wind rock (destabilisation of a plant’s roots by strong winds) as this is one of the biggest dangers to plants in a coastal garden. If planting in the autumn, we recommend cutting your larger, more vulnerable new plants back to half their size. It may feel like you’re wasting half of your plant to begin with, but in reality you’re giving it a much stronger chance of survival through the winter months, and of fully establishing itself within your garden.
6. The soil in coastal gardens is usually very poor. When planting in all types of coastal garden, we recommend using a very good quality slow release fertilizer (like Trevena Cross Fertilizer), but be sure to turn over the subsoil once the fertilizer is in place before placing the plant on top – direct contact with the roots of the plant can cause them to burn should the plant become dry.
7. Be patient and persevere – it’s true that plants can sometimes take longer to establish within a coastal garden. Don’t be alarmed to see some burning on your plants while they establish. Even the hardiest, most suitable plants for salt-laden winds can burn, but they will recover. If you persevere and give them time they will come round and look their best again!
8. Bring in a touch of exotic – often Mediterranean plants and specimens will do very well by the sea, used to poor soil and constant winds/breeze. Our top palms for seaside gardens include Chamaerops humilis and Trachycarpus wagnerianus.
10. Ask advice! Years of experience growing plants in Cornwall and by the sea has placed Cornish nurseries like Trevena Cross in the best position for giving advice on which plants will grow well in a coastal garden. There really is a huge range to choose from – you aren’t restricted by having a coastal garden, and in fact in many cases, can have a greater range of plants to choose from than most.