We all love to be out and about in all weathers, racing, fishing, exploring or having a cuppa onboard. But have you ever thought about how the plants that grow in marinas cope with the varied weather conditions?
From windswept Portland to Deacons on the banks of the river Hamble, the five Dean & Reddyhoff marina sites are carefully managed to encourage plants that both look great and support a diverse range of wildlife.
If you’ve got a waterside garden, then here are some top tips on making the most of your outdoor space.
Plant Selection With their often-exposed sites, coastal gardens have microclimates making plant selection even more important. Look for varieties that can cope with salt spray, wind, exposure to sun and free draining soil that can be low in nutrients. Agapanthus Peter Pan, Crocosmia Lucifer and a large array of wildflowers including wild poppies thrive in the low-nutrient rich soil. Be reminded of the pink haze of summer clifftops by planting thrift (Armeria maritima), its robust nature makes it perfect for dry sunny sites, lining paths, borders or popping into rockeries.
Wind Creating natural windbreaks is key. Planting around boulders and stones can help anchor plants. Succulents, aloes, palms and cordylines are perfect. Make sure that plants are pruned regularly and staked accordingly to help avoid wind damage. Like the sound of rigging on masts in the breeze, the swish of grasses like Miscanthus or Pennisetum provide natural movement all year around.
Feeding, watering and weeding Plants with silver or blue green leaves are great at holding onto moisture, think Agave and Sea Kale (Crambe maritima). Sea Holly (Eryngium variifolium) has striking silver foliage and architectural blooms adding structure to borders. Bees and insects love it and you can leave it over the winter to add interest.
Using liquid seaweed fertiliser, made from kelp and fresh water, that’s been kept for around two years so that the ammonia has broken down, is a natural way to feed plants. Feed the plants that need it and be careful not to over feed as some plants prefer poorer conditions!
Handweed where possible and be careful of over using chemicals that could leach into the water. In tough climates then if your plants thrive and grow then enjoy where they like to settle!
Wildlife Echium vulgare is great for adding height. The tall plant has upright spikes of tiny purple flowers, often with bright stamen that bees and other pollinators long. It should also flower all summer and self-seeds so is very low maintenance.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is perfect for a seaside spot and very hardy. Evergreen with pretty blue flowers in summer, it smells fantastic and can be picked all year round – it’s also perfect to throw onto a BBQ. Plant it near paths and around doorways so it releases fragrance as you brush past it.
All the plants and materials we use to build the boat show stand will be recycled and replanted at our marinas when the show is over. Do come along and see us on stand E043 and share what your favourite plants are – we love to learn from our berth-holders and visitors.
Dave Hill, Head Gardener, Dean & Reddyhoff For further information visit www.deanreddyhoff.co.uk