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The ten best seaside & coastal plants

Hazel Sillver / 29 September 2014

Beth Smith, creator of Foamlea, a stunning coastal garden on the north Devon coast, shares her top ten coastal plants.

Foamlea, north Devon. Photograph by Paul Debois.
Striking Echium pininana tower above crocosmias, phlomis and geraniums at Foamlea on the north Devon coast. Photograph by Paul Debois.

All photogaphs by Paul Debois. For more, please see our picture gallery of beautiful Foamlea coastal garden.

Coastal gardens can be difficult places to find reliable plants for. Exposure to the elements, including wind and salt spray, can sometimes provide a harsh environment for plants to flourish. These plants have all done well at Beth Smith's beautiful garden Foamlea on the north Devon coast. If you are struggling to grow plants in your coastal it may be worth creating a barrier out of hedging to block the worst of the wind. 

Beth Smith's top ten coastal plants


Phlomis loves the Mediterranean conditions of the Devon coast - full sun and very well-drained soil.


These reliable South African plants clump up well. I particularly like the local Devon and Cornwall cultivars. Find out how to grow crocosmias here.


Geums provide me with a lot of ground cover. Favourites include 'Prinses Juliana' (orange) and 'Lemon Drops' (yellow).


Olearia is a reliable and weatherproof daisy bush that suits our climate well.


Geraniums are great plants. I grow at least 30, inluding Geranium macrorrhizum and Geranium palmatum.


I adore Echium pininana, which grows to 8-10ft and seeds itself around the garden. It takes three to four years to flower, so you have to be patient.


I especially love Cistrus ladanifer, which smells wonderful. 'Silver Pink' is a pretty cultivar.


I grow Buddleja salviifolia (flowers in May) and Buddleja crispa (flowers in September). They attract butterflies into the garden. Find out how to grow buddleja here.


Kniphofia thomsonii var. snowdenii has bright fiery flowers and it blooms for 11 months of the year. Find out how to grow kniphofias here.


I especially like the burgundy rosettes of Aeonium 'Zwartkop', a succulant that will tolerate down to minus five. Find out how to grow succulents here.


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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.