There is an assumption that designing a coastal garden must be a wonderful thing to do. After all you just need a few plants that look and smell wonderful on a summer’s day and the rest is taken care of by those magnificent views looking out to sea. Sadly it is not quite as easy as that simply because for every glorious hot still day there are many more that can leave you struggling to stay upright relentlessly buffeted by the wind and rain. The stark truth is that coastal gardens are never as idyllic as they can appear to holidaying visitors.

The traditional problems of coastal gardening are exposure and salt on plants and even in the soil. The other consideration is one of excessive noise if there are strong winds or storms at sea the noise can be so loud that shouting will be the only option, if you want to be heard.

This especially applies when you need to make conversation above the sound of the crashing sea or a screaming south westerly. Any wind of course also carries with it a salty spray that is damaging to all but the most resilient of plants. It does its worst in spring just as new growth is emerging often desiccating delicate young growth. This is where it is so important to have healthy vigorous plants that can recover from this initial setback. In addition high winds can be structurally damaging so it is vital that you carry out plenty of staking.

Shelter belts are often very effective in protecting exposed gardens but this said it is important to find a happy balance between protection and spoiling a magnificent view; which after all is why you probably chose to move there in the first place. Some useful plants for providing protection are euonymus, ilex and eleagnus but there are plenty more if you hunt around.

Never assume that every coastal garden is going to automatically have lots of hot sunshine, this will all depend where you decide to live. A garden may be light and open but it may suffer from very high rainfall, so if you want to create something like a Mediterranean area including plants such as cistus, salvias and lavender do check out the local climate first.

Having the sea on your doorstep is indeed a privilege but you may have to make a few sacrifices on the way such as not growing azaleas, roses, cottage garden plants or anything that is happiest on a cool and sheltered woodland floor. Sometimes it is best to avoid being too ambitious a plants person and derive a lot of your garden’s overall beauty from selected pieces of sculpture, beautiful paving, groups of coloured pebbles or large ornamental pots.