Coastal Winds and Other Gardening Tribulations
I love living near the coast. Can’t get enough of those ocean views, but my plants, lovingly moved from the house up the hill, are not thanking me. They don’t like the coastal winds.
It’s tough gardening here in my new front yard. In my old garden, I had walls and hedges filtering the wind. Here, I have no protection from the prevailing winds that have been howling for the past four days, wreaking havoc on my poor little flowerbed and snatching the glowing purple petals from my bread seed poppies which were looking quite fabulous until now!
Earlier in the season, when the bed was new, the coastal winds tossed the spires of my budding delphiniums to the other side of the bed and they’re only just recovering, in time to be battered anew. Luckily there was enough time between wind rampages for lots of growing so the plants in the middle of the bed try and protect each other.
The soil dries out in no time, however, and now I know what my mother means when she talks about desiccated shrubs in her Port Alfred garden which endures hot berg and coastal winds. Luckily, I have lots of wonderful ground covers protecting the soil, helping the roots to keep their moisture a little longer. I have a pink evening primrose that has taken off since I transplanted it from pot to flowerbed. My lovely pink gaura also loves its new found freedom and is behaving like a ground cover too.
Having said that, most of the water is lost through transpiration as the plants are blown back and forth which is probably why most of the native plants around here have small leaves and bendy stems. I just have to go down the beach to see all the low growing plants clinging to the sides of the cliffs to know that this is the key to survival. The meadow in my garden shows this perfectly too, with low leaves, thin grasses and wiry stems.
Tall as they are, my thin stemmed lilies don’t mind being buffeted around while they stand tall among all the other plants. They’ve all weathered the wind stoically, although the flowers don’t last as long as they do in calm times.
I had to pick some of the new flowers to give them a chance to bloom in a vase on the kitchen table and they look very smug compared to their pals out in the courtyard. Yes, even the courtyard potted plants are being blown about. My red hanging petunia gave up the fight almost immediately, but the purple one below it is hanging on. I have to water my hydrangea on the veranda almost daily or it looks very limp.
Before the south west wind began to blow, I noticed that my pink evening primrose and my miniature hollyhock were ready to bloom. They just didn’t though. My wallflowers were blooming abundantly in shades of orange, purple and yellow. Then suddenly they weren’t. That gave me a clue and I had a closer look. Sure enough, all the buds and blooms had been neatly nibbled off by a deer and there was a deer turd on the lawn to prove it! So I sprayed all the plants with deer repellent and so far it seems to be working. Or perhaps the deer hasn’t been around lately. Anyhow, my wall flowers are blooming again and my hollyhock is just about to (fingers crossed)!
I also have at least half a dozen gophers at the gate, desperately trying to dig their way through the gopher wire into my poor little flower bed. I fear it’s only a matter of time before my lily bulbs disappear on me. I know I should trap the gophers but I’m far too squeamish for that.
So I’m thinking of planting a windbreak hedge around the south west side of the flower bed to protect my babies from those coastal winds. Lavender is a good choice of coastal wind breaker because it’s so tough, nothing can deter it. Or I might try rosemary which just loves this area, salt winds and all. They’re both lovely, aromatic plants and, best of all, gophers and deer don’t like them.
Happy gardening and please don’t forget your sunscreen.
There’s so much skin cancer about, you must protect your skin.
By the way, here is a link to a list of gopher resistant plants: http://www.groundcoversandgardening.com/gopher resistant plants.
If you want to buy plants that deer probably won’t eat, look here. I know I will be.
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