GARDENING: Planting a coastal colourful garden
Probably one of the hardest gardening tasks you will ever have to do is establishing a garden on the beachfront.
From the start, the selection of plants wasn’t as easy as just going to a nursery, looking at the label on the plant and saying this looks good.
Many of the plants recognised in gardening books and local nurseries can be complete duds in coastal conditions.
I received an email this week from Helen of Emu Park asking if I could recommend some colourful coastal ground covers that could be planted on an embankment garden not far from the beach.
The following ground covers all have specialised features to enable the plants to grow in those difficult positions in the garden and are able to be successfully grown in Central Queensland coastal gardens.
Arctotis acaulis or African Daisy is an evergreen ground cover that can spread up to a 1m across.
The dense silver foliage and colourful blooms of the Arctotis make an eye-catching feature in any garden.
The flowers range in colours variations of red, white, yellow, pink, orange and mauve that will have contrasting centres.
It should be noted that on cloudy days, or even as the afternoon shadows fall upon the plant, the flowers will close up, and sometimes they will tend to flower on the sunnier side of the garden first.
Banksia integrifolia prostrate or Creeping White Honeysuckle is a very hardy cascading ground cover for exposed positions with average to well drained soils.
This plant will grow to around half a metre high and up to 2m across.
Bird attracting large yellow brushes will appear throughout the year.
Carpobrotus glaucescens or Pigface is one of the prettiest flowering native ground covers, bearing pink to mauve-shaded flowers that can be 4 – 6cm in diameter during spring and summer.
It has large succulent leaves and a dense habit, this plant is perfect for positioning on dry well-drained slopes and is also one of the easiest native ground covers to propagate from cuttings.
Erigeron karvinskianus or Seaside Daisy is a hardy ground cover that produces a mass of small open-faced white daisy type flowers with a yellow centre.
It flowers most of the year in warm sunny positions.
It can be invasive, however, and needs to be checked periodically, as it is a very fast grower.
Gazanias, while many coastal gardeners have successfully grown Gazania scandens, there has always been an element that have felt that the small annual Gazania, the Sunshine hybrids, was a waste of time and effort on the coast.
These ground covers will literally form a kaleidoscope of colour, and are in fact planted by seed in open patches in the garden, rather than purchasing individual plants, thus becoming a very low cost filler.
Grevillea lanigera or Woolly Grevillea is a small dense ground cover growing to 1.5m across with fine grey green foliage.
It bears clusters of spider flowers containing the colours of pink, cream, red and white during winter and spring.
Grevillea lanigera requires a sunny well-drained position. It is quite hardy and salt tolerant.
Hibbertia scandens or Guinea Flower is a vigorous growing ground cover or small vine that is native to Central Queensland.
It is always one of the brightest ground covers during the warmest part of the year with its beautiful yellow flowers.
Oenothera speciosa can be a real surprise packet in coastal plantings, proving to be a spectacular mass-flowering plant in colours of pink or white.
Plus this small ground cover has the added ability to withstand high salt-laden winds without any visible effect to the floral display.
This prolific flowering ground cover primrose is well known to western gardeners, as being able to survive and grow in the longest drought, and still produce flowers in a garden where everything else has been reduced to a dried arrangement.
Russellia equisitiformis or Coral plant has made a name for itself for being able to be grown in the beachfront gardens of the coast, to the hot dry gardens of the far west, to the formal gardens of Brisbane such as those of the Queensland Museum.
Sun Showers has yellow flowers instead of the usual coral red flowers of its parent plant.
These tubular flowers are usually borne from autumn to spring, but with mild winters like we had last year, the plant can flower the whole year round.
Vitex ovata or Prostrate Vitex is a hardy ground cover with blue grey foliage and clusters of lavender blue flowers in spring.
It will handle most sunny positions and even grow in exposed locations. This would be one of the most under-utilised ground covers available to local gardeners.