Seaside garden

One of the main benefits of coastal gardening is that such regions are frost free. Problems however, include salt spray, windy conditions and sandy soils. Preparation and forethought are key: soils must be constantly  enriched with manure and compost, salt tolerant plants are essential- consider creating living screens of such plants to protect less tolerant plants.

Some great plants for seaside planting include:

Botanical name: Hemerocallis hybrids

Common name: Day Lily

Daylilies seem to thrive anywhere you plant them — so it should be no surprise they’ll also do well by the beach. They bear grassy foliage and flowers in a wide range of shades, from bright reds and deep purples to golden-yellows, eye-catching oranges, and creamy white.

Photo of Day Lily from Pinterest

Photo of Day Lily from Pinterest

Botanical name: Kniphofia hybrids

Common name: Red Hot Poker

Add drama to your garden with red-hot poker. This stately perennial offers strappy leaves topped by spikes of red, orange, and yellow flowers. It’s a wonderfully heat- and drought-resistant plant that’s also a favorite of hummingbirds.

Kniphofia-Pinterest

Kniphofia-Pinterest

Botanical name: Gazania hybrids

Common name: Gazania

Gardeners cherish gazanias as much for their cheery, daisy-shape blooms in glowing shades of yellow, orange, red, pink, and white as for their tough nature. In warm-climate areas, these charmers are evergreen perennials, but they also make fantastic additions to container gardens.

Gazania hybrid- Pinterest

Gazania hybrid- Pinterest

Botanical name: Lavandula angustifolia

Common name: English Lavender

Double your pleasure by planting lavender in front of roses. Both of these beauties will fill your garden with scent — and the lavender will camouflage the bare rose stems. Lavender is an easy-care plant that loves sandy soil, making it perfect to grow along the beach.

Lavandula angustifolia- Pinterest

Lavandula angustifolia- Pinterest

Botanical name: Portulaca oleracea

Common name: Portulaca

Drought-tolerant and tough-as-nails, portulaca, won’t knuckle under to salt spray. It bears beautiful flowers on a low, creeping plant perfect for the front of the border or in window boxes, hanging baskets, and other containers. It blooms in a range of shades from white and magenta to yellow, orange, and red. Though portulaca is an annual, it commonly self-seeds in the garden so you may need to plant it only once.

Portulaca-Pinterest

Portulaca-Pinterest

Botanical name: Geranium hybrids

Common name:  Geranium

Geraniums will thrive in any sunny spot, making them ideal for exposed seaside beds and borders. Look for varieties with bright red blooms to catch the eye, or go with soft pinks or whites for a more soothing presentation.

Geranium-Pinterest

Geranium-Pinterest

Botanical name: Cuphea ignea

Common name: Cigar Plant

Cuphea is relatively new to gardeners, so it’s not gotten the amount of attention it deserves. But this little annual blooms its head off, producing bright red, pink, or orange flowers, even in the hottest weather. It also holds up well to salt and drying winds.

Cuphea- Pinterest

Cuphea- Pinterest

Botanical name: Armeria maritima

Common name: Pincushion

Lovely little sea pink is an adorable groundcover with grassy foliage and round clusters of pink or white flowers in late spring and early summer. It’s a slow spreader, so you don’t have to worry about it running rampant.

Armeria-Pinterest

Armeria-Pinterest

– Erigeron karvinskianus (Seaside Daisy)

– Rosmarinus officinalis (Coastal Rosemary)

– Gaura lindheimeri (Butterfly Bush)

– Nepeta x faassenii (Catmint)

– Convolvulus cneorum (Silverbush)

– Festuca glauca (Blue Fescue)

– Leucophyta brownii (Cushion Bush)

– Agapanthus praecox (African Lily)

Plant of the month – Magnolia

Magnolias are such a beautiful tree. They are often considered to be the most spectacular flowering trees that flourish in temperate regions.

They comprise of about 100 species. Both evergreen and deciduous, most with scented flowers. The flowers are often seen to advantage on bare limbs before the foliage appears, and this simplicity contributes to their universal appeal.

Magnolias do well in well drained acid soils rich in manure. Generally fast growing, their fleshy surface roots are easily disturbed so perform better with little or no underplanting. Wind and late frosts can also damage the large flowers. Light shade is generally ideal, as a full sun position will burn the delicate leaves and flowers.

Careful position: Pick a location where the shallow, fleshy roots won’t be damaged by digging or by soil compaction from constant foot traffic.
Soil: Magnolias appreciate fairly rich, well-drained, neutral to slightly acid soil amended with plenty of organic matter at planting time. They will grow in somewhat alkaline soil but may develop chlorosis (yellow leaves with green veins).
Mulching: At least in the early years, keep a relatively thick layer of mulch over the root area.
Watering: Irrigate deeply and thoroughly, but don’t waterlog the soil or the tree will drown.
Fertilizing: Treat chlorosis with iron chelates. Feed trees if new growth is weak, or if you see significant dieback despite adequate watering and drainage. Use a controlled-release product; magnolias are very susceptible to salt damage from overfertilizing, resulting in burned leaf edges.
Pruning: For deciduous magnolias, best time is after bloom; for evergreen kinds, do the job before the spring growth flush. I find that pruning is not always necessary. Unless you need to prune the lower branches.

Some of my recommended species and cultivars are below.

Magnolia ‘Little Gem’- a great small to medium sized tree for those who want an evergreen variety. It will grow to approximately 3-4m. Its distinctive feature is the dark rusty coloured underside of the leaves.

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Magnolia x soulangeana (Saucer Magnolia)- this would have to be the most common species of Magnolia. You cant go wrong with this one. Its a classic. Growing to approx. 6m tall.

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Magnolia stellata (Star Magnolia) – also a classic Magnolia. Much smaller flowers and differently formed than most. Hence the reason why it is called Star Magnolia, because the flowers look like stars! Grows to approx. 4.5m tall.

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Magnolia x soulangeana ‘Vulcan’- darker pink flowers than the standard soulangeana, and also late flowering.

Magnolia stellata ‘Water Lily’- is a slow-growing, rounded, medium-sized deciduous shrub with narrowly obovate leaves. Fully open flowers are pure white. Grows to approx 2.5m.

Magnolia ‘Heaven Scent’ –  is a vigorous small tree with dark foliage. Flowers to 10cm in length, cup-shaped with nine rosy-pink petals, soon fading to pale pink with a magenta central stripe on the outside.

How to choose the perfect tree

Planting a tree is a very rewarding experience, although i think alot of people are hesitant because they are given incorrect information about the mature size of their chosen tree.

It definitely pays to do your homework before making your purchase.

1. Firstly, think about where you would like to locate the tree. Is it near your house? Near underground pipes? Near your driveway? Close to your pool?

2. Think about the purpose of your tree. Do you need a shade tree? An ornamental tree? A tree to block your neighbours? Or a tree for fruit?

3. Choose a healthy plant, and pick a good specimen. Most people will ask ‘But how do i know if it is a good specimen?’ Well, i will tell you.

– Always check the root system of your tree. If possible remove from the pot. If it is pot bound, which means the roots will be circling the root ball, it usually means it has been in the pot for too long. Better to get a tree that has been in the pot for only a few months, and the roots are not circling around the pot.

– Look for a straight and strong trunk. You dont want to choose a tree with forking lower down on the main trunk, as this could mean weak spots and cause the trunk to break off.

– Look for a healthy tree. Look at the leaves for a clue of the plants health. Leaves should not be showing any signs of yellowing, as this can be an indicator of deficiencies.

My recommendations for a small tree:

-Acer palmatum (Japanese maple)

– Prunus varieties (Ornamental Cherry)

– Malus varieties (Crabapple)

– Lagerstroemia indica (Crepe Myrtle)

Medium tree:

– Gleditsia triacanthos (Honey Locust)

– Pyrus calleryana (Ornamental Pear)

– Gordonia axillaris (Fried Egg Plant)

– Magnolia x soulangeana (Saucer Magnolia)

Shade tree:  

– Fraxinus angustifolia ‘Raywood’ (Claret Ash)

– Ulmus parvifolia (Chinese Elm)

– Nyssa sylvatica (Tupelo)

A beautiful example of a Eucalpytus tree

A beautiful example of a Eucalpytus tree

A visit to RHS Harlow Carr Garden

I love visiting England. I love everything about it. The people, the food and their huge interest and love for gardening!!

Before i moved to Switzerland, i never realised how much comfort i would receive from visiting a country that speaks English.

Zurich is a great place, but the language can be challenging and England has the charm and the old architecture but they speak English!

Anyway, i spent the week catching up on some retail shopping, lazing in the countryside, hiking in the Peak District National Park, and of course eating at the local pubs…i had pies, roasts, fish and chips, bangers and mash and plenty of scones. One thing i really love is that i get to eat crumpets every day!! I cant get them in Zurich and i miss them so much.

I really do see myself living in England at some stage in the near future….i dreamt about it on the plane  on the way home. Where will i live? For how long?

Anyway, now to get down to business….i also took the opportunity while in England to visit the very famous Royal Horticultural Society Harlow Carr Garden near Harrogate.

I get really excited when i visit open gardens. I feel like a kid at christmas! The day started out a little cloudy, but by lunchtime i was basking in the sunshine.

The park is located on 58 acres of tranquil gardens, and really is a fine example of a working garden. Full time staff and volunteers buzz around the garden constantly.

The Echinacea was the star flower of the day and sending the bees into quite a spin

The Echinacea was the star flower of the day and sending the bees into quite a spin

Looking from the woodland walk back towards the main border garden

Looking from the woodland walk back towards the main border garden

Sedum 'Matrona' was a new plant that i discovered

Sedum ‘Matrona’ was a new plant that i discovered

The main border area

The main border area

I loved all the many types of grasses that were incorporated into the border gardens

I loved all the different types of grasses that were incorporated into the border gardens

Artichoke flower

Artichoke flower

More of the main border area- this was my favourite!

More of the main border area- this was my favourite!

Lawn alternatives

Ever wonder what to do with that piece of lawn that just wont grow? Is it the large shady tree that stops the grass from growing? Or the dog that loves to run laps in the same spot?

Would you like something green but dont want to mow it? There are some great lawn alternatives around, but a word of warning – not all of the alternatives are resilient enough to handle a game of cricket!

1. Mini mondo grass

Ophiopogon japonicus ‘Nana’ is used in this stylish setting to break up a flat area of paving. It is an excellent choice to edge or divide paving as it is only around 10cm tall.

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2. Chamomile

Is a favoured lawn alternative in cooler areas. Here it is in full flower but for those who prefer their lawns to stay green year round, seek out the form ‘Treneague’ which rarely flowers.

Anthemis-nobilis-Roman-Chamomile-Photos

3. Native Violet 

Viola hederacea is one of the best of all lawn alternatives for moist, shaded spots. As well as neat foliage it also blooms with small violet flowers.

Native-Violet-Hederacea_sml--w1400h1050

4. Helexine

Soleirolia soleirolii or Babys tears, is a soft creeping ground cover with tiny round leaves. It spreads forever when conditions are moist and shady but only reaches 5cm high.

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5. Thyme

is a lawn alternative for a hot, sunny spot. Well grown, it will even tolerate some light foot traffic. It has a wonderful fragrance especially when crushed underfoot or brushed against.

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6. Informal path

Think of using large pavers in a shady area.

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What to do in the garden this month – September

Happy Fathers Day to all the fathers in Australia today…especially mine! Its definitely hard being away from home for the special occasions. I have missed them all over the past five years, except for Christmas. I do love heading home for my annual trip at Christmas.

As well as Fathers Day, today marks the first day of Spring. When Spring arrives a burst of activity comes to the garden.

Flowering now 

September is when the garden really goes off and nature is at full speed. Blossom trees (cherries, plums, peaches and crabapples) are in full bloom. Rhododendrons and azaleas are at their best, and flowering bulbs are bursting through the earth with an unexpectedly joyful display. There are alot of native flowers in bloom, including stunners like rock orchids, pink wax flower and flannel flowers, so get out and enjoy bushwalking!

While flowers cant help but take centre stage, many trees also look gorgeous simply because of their new growth. Lime leafed golden Robinias and Gleditisias and the new plum and burgundy leaves of maples.

What to do 

Attack weeds! Unfortunately, the warmer weather brings a lot of pesky problems too. Weeds and bugs can spread quickly unless you deal with them promptly.

Annual weeds should not have gone to seed yet, so you can break their lifecycle by removing them now. Bulbous weeds, such as onion weed, oxalis and onion grass take up poisons best when they are actively growing, so Round Up is most effective in these cases.

Patrol aphids. Watch out for aphids on the new growth of plants. These can be controlled with soapy water.

Fertilise Citrus. If you have potted citrus give them some extra tender loving care now that they are coming in to flower, by dosing them up with  liquid fertiliser.  You can also refer to my section on Caring for Citrus for more information.

Prune climbers. Spring also means some of our best loved climbers are in full swing. Jasmine, Wisteria and Clematis to name a few, are bursting with blossoms, bees and heady scents.

What to plant

As soon as frosts are finished think about planting petunia, phlox and salvia seedlings. Likewise, many frost tender vegetables and trailing groundcover fruits (including some melons) can be planted now as seeds.

Plant eggplant, capsicum and zucchini. Fill in the lawn. Now is a great time to either sow seed or lay turf so it takes root ready for backyard summer parties!

Look for varieties that suit your climate and situation.

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