Seaside gardening, my first attempt

When I worked on the last post I accidentally published it before any photos were attached so I scrambled around hoping I had a few minutes before anyone cared to open the post to locate photos for a quick edit hence it was a hasty put together post.

Gardening by the sea is a new challenge for me. The grounds around the house comprises a dry grey sand in some parts and others a yellow sand. It’s a soil that Bracken Fern absolutely thrive on. I thought I could do a little better than a Bracken nursery so decided to get some composted soil trucked in from Oatlands.

I have consulted quite a few books but the one I favour is Englishman Eric Jarman’s book on gardening at his Dungeness seaside home, given to me a few years ago by friends in Brisbane.

Derek Jarman‘s Garden ISBN 9780500016565

My deck planters with succulents - a nursery for the larger plot

Olea europa olive

Jarman pottered about gathering flotsam and jetsam and created a garden of stones and sculptures among plants until his early death from a terminal illness. He stumbled across the property much like we did, without any intention to buy, just a visit to see what the area was like. We spotted a ‘For Sale’ sign on a house that bore John’s mother’s name and it all snowballed from there.  Our land is not as large as Jarman’s had to work with but I am adopting some of his ideas and enthusiasm to overcome the usual struggles when gardening in sand and occasional high wind coupled with sea spray. Elements that together conspire to circumvent my bold ideas about aesthetics and edibility.

It is here though that John has become a gardener for the first time in his life. Our other house has been largely planted and cared for under my direction by a wonderful dedicated father and son team.  Every day now here in the Bay of Fires, John is outside watering and clearing away weeds from the roots. He has shovelled and wheel-barrowed tons of stone and pebbles to create good drainage and as a backdrop for my ambitious plans.

Helichrysum Licorice

I have used Pink Supreme stone and Montgomery stone, grand names I am sure. I have found a low-lying greyish plant called Licorice that is fast growing, and tolerates dry conditions. I see it as a background for brighter shrubs and coloured perennials.

Lobelia erinus

For a cobalt splash of colour I have put in borders of Lobelia and Sea Daisy below.

Erigeron profusion


Nepeta or Cat Mint is another drought and frost tolerant plant suitable for borders. This Nepeta says it’s the Hanging Rock (sky blue) variety on the label but already I can tell the flowers are going to be mauve. So that brings me to all the advice I have soughtlisten carefully and make up your own mind I have decided as everyone has different interpretations including the nurseriesI went to a well-known plant nursery in Launceston and received some very daft advice about which species of blueberries to grow in my area, I know in the end they just wanted to sell what they had available.

Rosemarinus officinalis

The rosemary is an edible one I transplanted into almost the same position and since it grew quite well last year in sand I have high hopes for it.

Lauras nobilis

Bay tree is another transplant and I check it each day to see if has revolted by being placed in a new spot. A few new shoots have appeared so there is hope yet.

Cordyline banksii x pumilio var

Last year I planted Red Fountain in a tall clay pot and the label said ‘Looks Great 365 Days a Year!’ Well that is to yet to be proven true. It is a Cordyline with not only a noble name but should give me a strappy purple foliage that will eventually cascade into a round ball. It is not yet performing its task of luring the visitors eye with an extravagant welcome as they walk down the driveway. I chose it not only for its potential good looks but its purported toughness and low water use.

Helichrysum italicum serotinum

The curry plant is not specifically for eating although it can be used in salads in small quantities and I am told it adds an unusual flavour when smoking meat.

Lemongrass has a long way to go before I can harvest it. I contained it between the upper and lower rock beds in the hope that once it takes off it will not only look effective here but stay where I want it. I find myself avidly reading the details on plant labels, did I say water wise is high on my criteria for a new garden.

Cymbopogon citratus

Westringia fruticosa variated form

I needed a border plant to hold the soil in front of the garage, the land slopes toward it and we have added a bed of stones for drainage. If all goes well a border of Westringia Fruticosa – a non edible rosemary with small orchid like flowers will restrain the soil.

I have added some cuttings from my verandah herb pots of the hardy and perennial  Sage and Thyme but they are far too scruffy now for a portrait shot.

I am off to a big city tomorrow and hopeful of obtaining a few more varieties to complete the garden before we leave.

  1. #1 by malcolmenrigh on February 6, 2012 - 4:41 am

    Roz, the wonderful folk at the Ross Nursery are reasonably close and are great pals for locally adept species.

  2. #3 by mary on February 6, 2012 - 10:12 am

    It looks as if you’re having fun Roz! I too have curry plant and lemon grass – the latter has gone crazy in the garden, so don’t worry – you’ll be using it very soon! There’s something special about planting and eating ……..x

  3. #4 by malcolmenrigh on February 7, 2012 - 1:59 am

    Roz, Barb told me last night that she thinks the Ross Nursery has closed!
    If you wish to venture north west to the Chudley Valley, the folks at ‘wychwood’ are a delight, they propagate and sell at the nursery.
    Karen Hall and Peter Cooper, they close from May thru to September each year.
    80 Den Road Mole Creek 03 63631210
    They started with a bare paddock 20 years ago, Karen worked in Brisbane with Ian Thompson on Boundary Street Spring Hill in his large Antiques Emporium in the 1970s.
    And when you swing by do stop to see the 600 year old tree at the old graveyard, featured on our other blog a while back

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