Les’s Patch

Les Foden.
Les Foden.

When to plant is one of the most controversial topics we have living on the coast. The important thing in all planting is to get the new roots growing as quickly as possible so that the plants get hold of the soil in their new quarters. For this warmth and moisture are needed.

The worst and longest periods of gales and stormy weather on the coast are undoubtedly from October to March, so new plantings at that time are a no go.

Spring time proves to be the best. The end of March, beginning of April, is okay providing fertilised peat is well watered in around the plants.

Many gardeners report that they can produce excellent flower gardens on the coast but are not nearly as successful with flowering shrubs. The best method is to grow the sheltering plants I mentioned last week and to make the right choice of shrubs.

Here are some of my suggestions.

Escallonia is one of the most useful of seaside shrubs and can be used as a hedge in coastal areas. It has shiny evergreen leaves with pink or red flowers.

Another shrub is azara which has small, shiny leaves with yellow flowers in March. Berberis darwinii is a great seaside shrub.

Buddleia, camellia, caryopteris, ceanothus, choisya, elaeagnus, fatsia, halimium, helichrysum, hibiscus, hypericum and lavender – a long list, all a good selection to grow by the sea.

Two flowering shrubs, the fuchsia and the hydrangea, are two of the most valuable for late summer colour in coastal gardens.

Fuchsias are nowhere near so much at home, nor flower so freely, as by the sea. Though they are often considered suitable for only mild areas they are so frost resistant at the roots that F.magellanica and its varieties may be safely planted in any coastal garden. Even in very exposed situations they can be grown successfully with a backing of tough evergreen Euonymus Japonica, as mentioned last week.

For this purpose none is better than the very vigorous red and purple F.magellanica riccartonii. There is a lot to be said for the fuchsia – pest free, no dreaded mildew rust or black spot and so easy to grow.

No flowering shrubs contribute more colour to the seaside garden in late summer than the hydrangea. It was first discovered in 1917 growing on the shores of Japan.


For a really rich growing medium that plants such as tomatoes will love, use a bag of compost instead of a grow bag. Shake the bag to break up any large lumps, then cut a large rectangle to expose the compost and plant into this.

Terracotta pots look wonderful but can absorb water. To prevent compost from drying out line the pot with polythene making sure to pierce holes in the bottom for drainage.