Gardening by the Seaside

Gardening  by the sea side has a number of unique challenges . Although the climate may be milder, less prone to frost and snow, coastal gardens are often in exposed sites and suffer from sea spray heavy with salt. Many gardens are part of a second home and so the garden must fend for itself for periods.

If the garden is very exposed, it may be necessary to create a wind break or some shelter. A hedge is better than a wall or a fence which can creates wind eddies and be blown down. A mixed hedge can be formed from many of the shrubs listed below.

If garden pots are unattended for periods, a good tip is to add water gel crystals to the soil. They help to retain water as will a mulch, stones and shells can look attractive.

Gardens near the sea need tough plants - Below is suggestion list depending on your personal preferences; all are suitable for sea side gardens.

Gardening by the Sea Side 

Cistus common name Rock rose

Cistus common name Rock Rose 

A tough shrub suitable for a sea side garden and which will flower all summer long if its dry and sunny. The image illustrates C. x Cyprius which is only ** hardy, and needs full sun to flower. Cistus dislikes the wet as it is a mediterranean shrub by origin and is a small compact shrub. 

It is ideal for a seaside garden more advice about growing Cistus  


 Perovskia common name Russian Sage 

This is an ideal sea side plant, a deciduous sub shrub grown for it's lovely lavender blue flowers and aromatic leaves. It is easy to grow, likes a dry sunny spot with no more attention than to be cut back, not too harshly, in the spring. It has a woody base and when cutting back do not cut into the wood too much.

An added bonus is that the bees go wild for Perovskia and although not visible in the image on the left this plant was covered in bees. It looks good in a  sea side setting and in the image is nestled along a blue fence which was a great combination. P.Atriplicifolia ' Blue Spire' is a good variety and has the RHS garden merit award. rhs_agm_logo-75x75

Photinia 'red robin'

Photinia fraseri Red Robin 

A popular easy to grow garden shrub which requires very little attention. The new growth of foliage is a vibrant red giving great colour to the border, and it produces it’s best colour in sun but will grow anywhere provided there are no cold, drying winds. It is a little tender, classified ** hardy which is why it is ideal for sea side gardens and grows up to 5m (15ft) and is often used to make a sea side hedge.

Photinia is a much more attractive shrub than it is often given credit for as it can appear frequently in landscaping around supermarkets but the red flush of new growth is very attractive. Red Robin has the RHS garden merit award rhs_agm_logo-75x75


Potentilla fruiticosa

Very tough, deciduous shrub which flowers from late spring on wards. Saucer like flowers commonly  either white, yellows, pinks and red.  Growing up to 1m (3ft) it can form into a low hedge or form part of a mixed border. It needs no attention easy maintenance, it's easy to grow and reliable in  a sea side garden.


Rosa Rugosagreen wheel barrow Rosa Rugosa easy to grow

As a Rose, the Rugosa variety is much more tolerant than other roses of the difficult coastal conditions and is related to the wild rose. Summer flowers are followed by large red or orange hips. It is easy to grow and can be planted to form a hedge but beware the thorns are lethal.

Unlike many roses the Rugosa is tolerant and if its not pruned every year it will still flower the following summer.  It grows up to 2 metres and Rosa Rugosa is deciduous so in the winter it will be bare. It is fast growing and very forgiving of growing conditions, its also known as the salt spray rose. The only condition it dislikes it wet soil.

Meconopsis grandis branklyn common name Himalayan Blue Poppy

Meconopsis grandis Himalayan Blue Poppy

Stunning with beautiful blue flowers Meconopsis is suitable for some coastal gardens. Meconopsis is very particular about growing conditions, with a strong preference for cool and damp and cannot be grown sucessfully in sunny dry conditions. If your coastal garden is shady, damp in one of the cooler areas of the UK Meconopsis will grow well. It is a plant which will tolerate conditions well in the North of England and Scotland. If your coastal garden enjoys these conditions Meconopsis makes a great addition supporting the bluest of blooms.

Escallonia hedge in Guernsey


If you have a sheltered sea side garden, Escallonia makes a fantastic hedge and this image was of an Escallonia hedge growing in Guernsey. The shrub has so much going for it lovely glossy leaves, neat habit, delicate flowers. Many Escallonia are slightly tender but there are fully hardy varieties. 

If you have a sea side garden and are looking to plant a hedge it is well worth considering Escallonia; more information about growing Escallonia and different varieties. 




The other just fab plant for a sea side garden is Agapanthus. Where in cold wet areas it is a perennial struggle to grow Agapanthus and to get them to flower, in sea side gardens it is a breeze. Travelling down to Cornwall illustrates the point where even the roundabouts are full of Agapanthus. Travel further over to the Scilly Isle, take a boat to the famous Tresco gardens, and in abundance growing wild on the scrubland just in from the beaches are vast quantities of Agapanthus and they look so exotic.


Shrubs suitable for a Seaside Garden







Ilex common name Holly



Hydrangea macrophylla




Garrya elliptica male flowers

Garrya elliptica

 escallonia flowers



Flowering plants suitable for a Seaside Garden



Deep blue Agapanthus



Sea holly





crocosmia lucifer


 Alchemilla mollis in flower

Alchemilla mollis (Lady's Mantle)