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Plants for coastal gardens and exposed sites

Plants for coastal gardens and exposed sites


If you garden on the coast or your garden is exposed to strong winds then this is the guide for you! Exposed gardens often bear the full brunt of the weather, from icy gales in the depths of winter to drying winds in the summer which scorch foliage and break fragile stems. In a coastal garden the wind is also laden with salt which only the toughest plants can tolerate. When drawing up coastal garden designs it’s worth knowing which plants will thrive, so your garden not only survives but flourishes in these challenging conditions.


Buffering the wind

You can really expand your choice of plants if you provide a windbreak in your garden. It’s quite surprising how much difference a hedge can make to the overall climate of the garden. Hedges are much better windbreaks than solid walls; walls create turbulence, whereas hedges filter and slow the wind down.


Hedging plants for windy gardens

There are many good hedging plants but only a handful can tolerate heavy winds and/or salty conditions. Despite their hardiness, all the plants listed below will benefit from the protection of some windbreak netting or temporary fencing in their first few years, until they are established.


Hedging plants for windy gardens Salt tolerant  Plant type Extra features
Holly (Ilex aquifolium)TreeInteresting Features - Colourful berries or fruitInteresting Features - Evergreen
Juniper (Juniperus communis) TreeInteresting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - Attractive FoliageInteresting Features - Architectural
Pine (Pinus)TreeInteresting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - Attractive FoliageInteresting Features - Architectural
Yew (Taxus baccata) TreeInteresting Features - Evergreen
Blackthorn/Sloe (Prunus spinosa)ShrubInteresting Features - Colourful berries or fruitInteresting Features - Spring Flowering
Eleagnus x ebbingeiShrubInteresting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - Attractive Foliage
Euonymus japonicusShrubInteresting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - Attractive Foliage
Griselinia littoralisShrubInteresting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - Attractive Foliage
Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna)ShrubInteresting Features - Colourful berries or fruitInteresting Features - Spring Flowering
Rosa rugosa (Hedgehog Rose)ShrubInteresting Features - Colourful berries or fruitInteresting Features - Summer FloweringInteresting Features - Scented
Sea Buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides)ShrubInteresting Features - Colourful berries or fruit
Willow (Salix purpurea)ShrubInteresting Features - Attractive FoliageInteresting Features - Spring FloweringInteresting Features - Attractive bark

Plants for cold and exposed gardens

Exposed gardens can be found on hillsides or flat areas where there are no natural windbreaks such as trees and hedges. These gardens suffer the worst of the weather and plants have to be very hardy to withstand the constant battering. Hedges will help alleviate the force of the wind although further trees and shrubs planted within the garden can create sheltered pockets in which more delicate plants can be grown. We’ve listed some of the best hardy plants for exposed gardens below.


Plants for cold and exposed gardens Salt tolerant  Plant type Extra features
Alder (Alnus)TreeInteresting Features - Spring Flowering
Ash (Fraxinus) TreeInteresting Features - Spring FloweringInteresting Features - Attractive FoliageInteresting Features - Autumn leaf colour or flowers
Birch (Betula) TreeInteresting Features - Spring FloweringInteresting Features - Autumn leaf colour or flowersInteresting Features - Attractive bark
Conifers (Chamaecyparis) TreeInteresting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - Attractive FoliageInteresting Features - Architectural
Cornus (Dogwood) Tree/ShrubInteresting Features - Spring FloweringInteresting Features - Attractive FoliageInteresting Features - Autumn leaf colour or flowersInteresting Features - Attractive barkInteresting Features - Colourful berries or fruit
Laburnum x watereri ‘Vossii’ TreeInteresting Features - Spring Flowering
Mountain Ash/Rowan (Sorbus aucuparia) TreeInteresting Features - Spring FloweringInteresting Features - Autumn leaf colour or flowersInteresting Features - Colourful berries or fruit
Poplar (Populus) TreeInteresting Features - Spring FloweringInteresting Features - Attractive Foliage
Berberis (Barberry)ShrubInteresting Features - Spring FloweringInteresting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - Colourful berries or fruit
CotoneasterShrubInteresting Features - Summer FloweringInteresting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - Colourful berries or fruit
HeatherShrubInteresting Features - Summer FloweringInteresting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - Attractive FoliageInteresting Features - Autumn leaf colour or flowersInteresting Features - Winter Flowering
Lilacs (Syringa) ShrubInteresting Features - Spring FloweringInteresting Features - Scented
MahoniaShrubInteresting Features - Spring FloweringInteresting Features - ScentedInteresting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - Attractive FoliageInteresting Features - ArchitecturalInteresting Features - Colourful berries or fruit
PyracanthaShrubInteresting Features - Spring FloweringInteresting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - Colourful berries or fruit
Philadelphus (Mock Orange) ShrubInteresting Features - Summer FloweringInteresting Features - Scented
SambucusShrubInteresting Features - Summer FloweringInteresting Features - Attractive FoliageInteresting Features - Colourful berries or fruit
ViburnumShrubInteresting Features - Spring FloweringInteresting Features - ScentedInteresting Features - Evergreen
Armeria (Sea Pink)PerennialInteresting Features - Summer FloweringInteresting Features - Evergreen
Aster alpinus PerennialInteresting Features - Summer Flowering
Aubrieta PerennialInteresting Features - Spring FloweringInteresting Features - Evergreen
Centaurea dealbata (Perennial Cornflower) PerennialInteresting Features - Summer Flowering
Dianthus deltoidesPerennialInteresting Features - Summer FloweringInteresting Features - Evergreen
Hardy Geraniums PerennialInteresting Features - Summer Flowering
Lysimachia nummularia (Creeping Jenny) PerennialInteresting Features - Summer FloweringInteresting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - Attractive Foliage
Molinia caerulea (Purple Moor Grass)PerennialInteresting Features - Summer FloweringInteresting Features - Attractive FoliageInteresting Features - Architectural
Panicum virgatum (Switch Grass)PerennialInteresting Features - Attractive FoliageInteresting Features - Autumn leaf colour or flowersInteresting Features - Architectural
Perennial sweet pea (Lathyrus latifolius) PerennialInteresting Features - Summer Flowering
AlyssumAnnualInteresting Features - ScentedInteresting Features - Summer Flowering
California PoppyAnnualInteresting Features - Summer Flowering

For more trees and shrubs for exposed gardens, refer to the table of hedging plants above.


Plants for coastal gardens

The upside to coastal gardening is the reduced risk of frost, allowing you to grow borderline-hardy plants which other gardeners only dream of! Plants adapted to growing in coastal conditions often have tough, leathery or hairy leaves which protect the plant from salt damage and reduce moisture loss.

A plant’s Latin name can also give clues to its coastal origins, for example if the name contains ‘maritima’ or ‘littoralis’ (meaning ‘of the shore’). Have a look at your neighbour’s gardens too and see what grows well for them! We’ve listed some of the best coastal garden plants below.


Plants for coastal gardensSalt tolerantPlant typeExtra features
Acacia dealbataTreeInteresting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - Attractive FoliageInteresting Features - Spring FloweringInteresting Features - ScentedInteresting Features - Architectural
CordylineTreeInteresting Features - Summer FloweringInteresting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - Attractive FoliageInteresting Features - Architectural
Cytisus (Broom)TreeInteresting Features - Summer FloweringInteresting Features - Attractive FoliageInteresting Features - Scented
Eucalyptus gunniiTreeInteresting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - Attractive FoliageInteresting Features - Architectural
Sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa)TreeInteresting Features - Summer FloweringInteresting Features - Colourful berries or fruit
EscalloniaShrubInteresting Features - Summer FloweringInteresting Features - Evergreen
Fuchsia magellanicaShrubInteresting Features - Summer Flowering
HebeShrubInteresting Features - Summer FloweringInteresting Features - Evergreen
RosemaryShrubInteresting Features - Summer FloweringInteresting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - ScentedHerb
AchilleaPerennialInteresting Features - Summer FloweringInteresting Features - Attractive Foliage
Amaryllis belladonnaPerennialInteresting Features - Autumn leaf colour or flowers
Armeria (Sea Pink)PerennialInteresting Features - Summer FloweringInteresting Features - Evergreen
Centranthus (Valerian)PerennialInteresting Features - Summer Flowering
Corynephorus 'Spiky Blue' (Grey Hair-Grass)PerennialInteresting Features - Summer FloweringInteresting Features - Evergreen
Crocosmia (Montbretia)PerennialInteresting Features - Summer Flowering
Delosperma (Ice Plant)PerennialInteresting Features - Summer Flowering
EchiumPerennialInteresting Features - Summer FloweringInteresting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - Architectural
Erigeron (Fleabane)PerennialInteresting Features - Summer Flowering
Eryngium (Sea Holly)PerennialInteresting Features - Summer FloweringInteresting Features - Attractive Foliage
Fatsia japonicaPerennialInteresting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - Attractive FoliageInteresting Features - ArchitecturalInteresting Features - Autumn leaf colour or flowers
Festuca glaucaPerennialInteresting Features - Summer FloweringInteresting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - Attractive Foliage
GaillardiaPerennialInteresting Features - Summer Flowering
Helianthemum (Rock Rose)PerennialInteresting Features - Summer Flowering
Osteospermum jucundumPerennialInteresting Features - Summer FloweringInteresting Features - Evergreen
PhormiumPerennialInteresting Features - Summer FloweringInteresting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - Attractive FoliageInteresting Features - Architectural
Red Hot PokerPerennialInteresting Features - Summer FloweringInteresting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - Architectural
SedumPerennialInteresting Features - Summer FloweringInteresting Features - Autumn leaf colour or flowers
ThymePerennialInteresting Features - Summer FloweringInteresting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - Attractive FoliageHerb
AlyssumAnnualInteresting Features - Summer FloweringInteresting Features - Scented
CalendulaAnnualInteresting Features - Summer Flowering
California PoppyAnnualInteresting Features - Summer Flowering
Clarkia (Godetia)AnnualInteresting Features - Summer Flowering
GazaniaAnnualInteresting Features - Summer Flowering
Lavatera trimestris (Mallow)AnnualInteresting Features - Summer Flowering
Limonium (Statice)AnnualInteresting Features - Summer Flowering
Malcolmia maritime (Virginian Stock)AnnualInteresting Features - Summer FloweringInteresting Features - Scented
SenecioAnnualInteresting Features - Attractive Foliage
Verbascum bombyciferumBiennialInteresting Features - Summer FloweringInteresting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - Attractive FoliageInteresting Features - Architectural

For more trees and shrubs for coastal gardens, refer to the table of hedging plants above.







Plants for coastal gardens and exposed sites - Interesting features - Scented, spring flowering, autumn flowering or leaf colour, winter flowering, summer flowering, evergreen, attractive foliage, architectural, colorful berries or fruit







Cornflower are ideal for exposed gardens due to their hardiness.

Cornflower are ideal for exposed gardens due to their hardiness.












Evergreen perennials such as Dianthus deltoidesare ideal for exposed, coastal gardens due to their salt tolerance and they provide colour in the summer months

Evergreen perennials such as Dianthus deltoides are ideal for exposed, coastal gardens due to their salt tolerance and they provide colour in the summer months.

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