Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Buckthorn provides good shelter.

THERE are a certain small proportion of homes in this part of Ireland that present challenges when it comes to gardening.  One of those is being located along the coast where the one positive is that there is usually a good view.

 Coast

I enjoyed the TV documentary called “Coast” and, particularly when Neil Oliver was presenting it. Anyone can see the magic of being by the sea and how beautiful it is when we visit during the summer months. We are sometimes envious of those people living there but, we forget that we are looking at this through rose tinted glasses and, that the reality is different during the long winter months when the weather is not the most enjoyable.  It is similar to our view of the west of Ireland, where it is quite miserable during those dull, wet and windy periods.

Garden mad

Many would say you would have to be mad to garden in a coastal area while others might say it only suits garden mad people to attempt it. From my limited experience I have seen people in very exposed sites on the coast creating good gardens and, if you wander off the road along the copper coast from Fenor to Bonmahon you will see plants flourishing along the exposed areas. The reason is that the plants have evolved to grow in those conditions and there, is the key on what to plant in your coastal garden.

Handicap

The main problem for growing plants by the sea is the salt laden winds which burn up plants and, in stormy conditions these winds can reach some miles inland where it will scorch the exposed side of the plants and maybe even kill them. The solution is not to start any fancy gardening until you have adequate shelter provided and, this can be done with suitable plants or non-living materials like netting. Because of the winter storms we advise that most planting in coastal be carried out in the spring months.

First step

Wind takes moisture from plants and also causes wind-rock where the stem swirls around and leaves a hole at the base where water gets in and rots the roots. We avoid large sized plants as they are hard to secure and more difficult to establish and, find that young plants tied with a short bamboo cane are easier and grow rapidly within months of planting. In all cases we concentrate on boundary shelter behind which more tender plants can be introduced in later years.  The trouble is that usually the best views are where the wind comes from so it might limit your choice to lower growing plants and the taller ones can be planted where there are no views to preserve.

What to plant 

If you search around you might be given advice on what to plant but some plants, while providing good shelter for a while, keep growing until they become monsters and their value for shelter has long disappeared such as Populus alba, Cupressus (many), Eucalyptus (many) and Pines. The best shelter is to go for a mixture of evergreen and deciduous lower growing plants that grow up to five metres (16’) and they include-whitethorn, blackthorn, whitebeam, sea buckthorn, Elaeagnus ebbingei, Escallonia ‘Sea Breeze’, Griselinia, Olearia and Euonymus ovatus.

TIP OF THE WEEK

All summer flowers which were planted some weeks ago have now taken off and are flowering well. If time allows, you can casually take off the faded ones as they arise and the plant will then put more energy into more new flowers and this, coupled with adequate watering and a weak feed every two to three weeks will ensure good displays until the autumn cold weather comes in. If you are away for longer than a week you can put all the containers and hanging baskets on the ground in a light area but away from the sun and they will survive without watering. If you have any queries or comments, you are welcome to share them with me on (051)384273 or [email protected] and if of general interest I will include it in a future newsletter.

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