RHS Chelsea Flower Show was ‘all at sea’ this year. Not only was there the beautiful ‘IBTC Lowestoft: Broadland Boatbuilder’s Garden‘, but also the ‘Welcome to Yorkshire Garden‘, both of which recreated intricate coastal habitats to showcase the array of plants available for gardeners interested in coastal planting.
Many people might find the idea of a coastal garden a bit daunting, especially when you factor in winter storms, salty sea breezes and wind-blasted plants. But coastal gardens – and those upto 5 miles inland – often benefit from the milder maritime climate near to the seaside. There’s also a whole host of beautiful plants that thrive in the extreme conditions of shingle banks, estuaries, cliffs, mudflats, sand-dunes and marshes – many of which can create unusual and unique gardens.
Derek Jarman’s garden at Prospect Cottage, Dungeness in Kent is perhaps the best known UK example of a garden right on the egde of the coast, part of the ship wrecks, shingle and spin-drift. Jarman, a renowned theatre and film director, used found objects, flint and stones to create the hard landscaping of his garden, then pulled the wider geography in by not raising fences or marking boundaries. The planting is naturalistic with poppy, scabious, red valerian, lavander, california poppy, sea kale and santolina all growing strongly.
But the real beauty of the garden is in its originality and individuality. Jarman celebrated the uniqueness of the shingle spit on which he gardened, creating sculptures from old metal and wood, and planting drought-loving species straight into the gravel. He created a garden at ease with the landscape, and one that completely pleased himself before anybody else – these are refreshing ideas for keen gardeners to take away no matter how they garden.