Two of my favourite landscape design projects are gardens I have created in Barwon Heads and Ocean Grove. Coastal gardens have their own unique challenges, being salt laden winds and poor, sandy soils, therefore, sensitive design combined with correct plant selection is crucial to create a successful coastal garden.
The plant palette can differ somewhat from the Melbourne garden, given the coastal tolerances the plants need. A mixture of native, indigenous and exotic species cleverly combined, can create a stunning garden. As with any design, plant colour, texture and form is carefully considered. Here are a few of my favourite plants I like to use in a Victorian coastal garden. Eucalyptus caesia, commonly known as the ‘Silver Princess’ grows clusters of large, red flowers which are stunning and of course, bird attracting. Acacia cognate looks very effective planted in flowing ‘drifts’. My 3 year old daughter says “Dad it looks like hair!”. Shrubs such as Correas and Grevilleas provide colour and texture as well as attracting honey eaters. The indigenous cushion bush has a curious grey, waxy appearance and looks interesting when combined with tufting grasses. These plants have high ornamental qualities and are a fabulous addition to a coastal landscape.
With coastal garden design I like to combine a lot of natural materials, such as driftwood , stone, gravel and recycled products. The Barwon Heads garden has a tomato stake fence at the front of the house which gives the garden an ‘organic’ feel.
Coastal gardens, like any, require garden care to ensure they reach their full potential. Groundcovers such as Myoporum parvifolium and Grevillea ‘bronze rambler’ create a carpet which can help with weed suppression. The garden must be mulched and recycled timber prunings and gravel suit this landscape. A minimum of pruning once a year should be performed on shrubs. Newly planted gardens should be watered well in their first summer of establishment. Coastal landscapes can often be built and mistakenly left with the mindset that they are a ‘no’ maintenance garden. Without the proper garden care, these landscapes could easily fail and not reach their full potential.
I love the sea and the salt air and I love the challenge of creating coastal gardens. With an understanding of the coastal environment, combined with a well thought out landscape design which complements the client and the environment, creating successful coastal landscape designs is very satisfying.