Creating your garden oasis by the sea

Gardening in a coastal area has many unique advantages such asmore sunlight, well, definitely more reflected light, fewer frosts,andmany sub-tropical plants will grow quite well in a sheltered position by the sea.

The main disadvantages areusually poorer soils andthe wind whichcan play havoc with plants.

Let’s deal with the soil first.

To turn poor sandy soil, which is on the alkaline side of neutral, into a good growing medium you need to dig in plenty of organic material.Anything will do as long as it rots down nicely – seaweed,leaves, woodchips and animal manures will all work rather well.

This is an ongoing process as you have to work at getting a rich, dark, fertile soil by the constant addition of composting materials.

Protection from wind is often best provided by a screen or plants.

Choose plants that are indigenous to the area as they not only grow well, but also grow fast,the two main requirements you want from a windbreak planting.

Have a look around at what the locals are using as windbreaksto seewhat is working in that particular area.

There are some other factorstoconsider if planting a new garden or renovating a tired or old one.Don’t betoo hasty in removing any existing plants as they may be invaluable as protection for new ones.

COASTAL ESCAPE: The coast offers many advantages and some disadvantages for gardeners wanting to create a seaside retreat.

Even old sags and clumps of grassprovide some protection. Remove them when the newer plants are growing strongly and can survive the elements.

Watering a seaside garden is quite an art.

Good soakings are preferable to light, frequent sprinklings,for good drainage, whilst an advantage, can lead to nutrientsbeing leached from the soil.

When you apply a fertiliser, instead of two heavy feeds per year, give the same amount but in six equal doses throughout the year.

Mulching is especially important as it not only supplies nutrients and humus to the soil, but also decreases the loss of moisture to evaporation by the sun and wind.

Don’t be in a hurry to establish the garden.

Use small plants because large ones, whilst giving an instant effect, are going to be exposed to winds before they can become established.

Plant selection is also important. Plants with grey or silver leaves tend to do best in hot, sunny situations as well as being alkaline pH tolerant.

Asign that a plant likes a little lime are its leaves.Generally a grey or silver leaf indicates a liking for lime.

With a little planning, soil preparation and thought givento suitableplants and their requirements, there’s no reason why you cannot have a beautiful flourishinggarden by the sea.

DIARYMarch 15: The Launceston Horticultural Society meets at the Windmill Hill Hall, High Street, Launceston at8pm.

March 16:The Launceston Orchid Society meets at the Newnham Uniting Church Hall, George Town Road, Launceston at7pm.

March21:The Australian Plant Society meets at the Max Fry Hall on Gorge Rd, Trevallyn, Launcestonat7.30pm.

March 26:‘WestFest’ at the Exeter High School Farm, Main Road, Exeter 10am-3pm. Family fun day with food, good coffee, live music, wine andoil tasting, localcrafters, children’s activities, rural suppliers, animal displaysand more.Sled-dogs in Sportwillfeature.Entry $5, 6-12yrs $2.

Daily:The Emu Valley Rhododendron Garden, 55 Breffay Road, Romaine, Burnie is open 9amto5pm.This magnificent garden is run by volunteers who must be commended for their work tomakethis one of Tasmania’s major tourist attractions.

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