On the Beach.

It’s been too hot to blog lately, too hot to do anything but lie in the hammock and read and plot new projects for the garden. Oh, and there’s been watering to do of course, endless, back-breaking watering. So this is not a post about the real beach; I haven’t been there for months, there are too many ‘staycationers’ swarming around on all my favourite beaches. But my shed looks like a beach hut and I have created a little beach all round it. It’s a pity there is no cool water to plunge into but I have a lot of blue flowers to cool me down. I have waves of blue agapanthus for the sea with white ones to represent the surf. OK, you have to squint at them and use your imagination to imagine it as the sea.

I have shells and fossils and stones which I have picked up over the years.

I even have a resident seagull.

I have a lovely sky blue flax to give me a taste of the holiday we had to cancel last month. We had planned to cycle the ‘Véloroute du Lin’ which follows the traditional flax route across Normandy. So instead of fields of blue I have this, which is pretty, but I would love to see fields of it.

Linum narbonense ‘Heavenly Blue’

I have fabulous Eryngium bourgatii ‘Picos Blue’ in metallic blue. I have seen this growing in sand dunes on Mediterranean beaches so it should be at home here in the gravel.

Eryngium bourgatii ‘Picos Blue’

I like thistly plants and I have another one on my beach which is probably not particularly maritime, it comes from South Africa. I like its silvery lilac flowers and I love the spiky leaves. It is called Berkheya purpurea.

Berkheya purpurea

Bulbine frutescens is another South African plant, this time with fleshy leaves. I think it looks good growing in the gravel. I came upon it for the first time growing on a roundabout in France. To my shame, I risked the Pianist’s disapproval, death by being run over and angry gendarmes because I just had to have a tiny piece of it. Luckily it grows easily from tiny pieces and so I keep some in the greenhouse every winter as it is not hardy.

Bulbine frutescens

You often see sea campion on cliffs and I love any sort of campion. This is the variegated one, Silene uniflora ‘Druett’s Variegated’

Silene uniflora ‘Druetts Variegated’

The lovely starry lilac flowers are Tulbaghia violacea. It looks good with the eryngium foliage.

And yes, that is a foot below. In the foreground is another campion which seeds and spreads readily which is lucky because people are always asking for a bit.

Silene uniflora
Silene uniflora

I always knew of this as Silene uniflora but I think it may be called Silene maritima now.

I have it in pink too.

Silene uniflora ‘Pink’

I don’t suppose camapanulas are particularly beachy but I love them, specially the little ones so I have a few dinky bells ringing in the gravel.

Other plants which are very much seaside plants are various kinds of Drift, Armeria maritima which bloom in early summer.

Armeria maritima

The horned Sea Poppy grows on beaches here in Suffolk and the native one is yellow. I love this orange one, Glaucium flavum var. aurantiacum. The flowers are pretty but now they are over. I have cut off all the stems and enjoy the lovely grey leaves.

Glaucium flavum var. aurantiacum
Glaucium flavum var. aurantiacum

Lined up outside my shed I have a selection of succulents. I seem to have a surprising number of these which is odd as years ago I didn’t even like them. I fell in love with them when I went to Tresco in the Scilly Isles. I associate them with seaside places after seeing them planted all over the cliffs at the open air theatre at Minack in Cornwall. I wish I had some cliffs to display them.

But the pièce de résistance of my beach in summer is the agapanthus. I grew them all from seed and they have all come out bigger and better than any of their parents. So here they are reminding me once again of Tresco where they have escaped from the gardens to roam about on the dunes.

So now I have shared my beach with you I am off to see what everyone else has been doing whilst I lazed in my hammock. If you live in the UK, I hope your gardens have survived the intense heat. And you too. There have been days when I nearly climbed into the goldfish pond to cool off.

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56 Responses to On the Beach.

  1. Oh, I agree your Agapanthus is gorgeous. Mine sulks. Oh well, is it in pots? I have some of the same South African plants here – the Society Garlic and Bulbine. I wrote down Erygium as I love and it seems it would like it here. Your blues are lovely and it was as hot there as here last week! And my irrigation system went down. Hoses ugh. Stay out of the fish pond.

    • Chloris says:

      I have some agapanthus in pots but they don’t bloom as well as the ones in the ground. We are always told that they bloom better when they have their roots restricted but I haven’t found this to be true.
      All right, I’ll try and keep out of the pond. Actually I saw a grass snake in there the other day and I have a horror of snakes, even harmless ones.

  2. Christina says:

    Your Agapanthus are wonderful. My blue have never made seed but whites have. This year they flowered and guess what? They are blue!!!!! Our summer has not been unbearably hot, but it is at the moment. We haven’t been to to sea yet this year or even swum in the lake, maybe next week. Enjoy your hammock, here it is too hot to be out in the garden and brilliant about 19.00. It is lovely now at 21.34.

    • Chloris says:

      How lovely to hear from you Christina. Agapanthus don’t come true from seed, the original parents of mine were blue, I was amazed to get the white ones too.
      I have missed swimming this year too. We were supposed to be going to Greece in September but we are going to cut our losses and cancel. Airports and planes can’t be healthy places at the moment. Keep well, and I look forward to seeing you again when we finally all emerge from our caves.

  3. susurrus says:

    I love the agapanthus sea spray! It has been a little cooler today here, which is a relief.

  4. Pauline says:

    I too have grown agapanthus after seeing them in the Scillies, but have never tried growing them from seed. After seeing your success I will certainly try as yours are stunning!

    • Chloris says:

      Agapanthus are easy from seed. They can bloom in two years if you are lucky but they usually take three years. The bonus is you never quite know what flowers you will get. Mine are all much better than their parents.

  5. bcparkison says:

    I do think you should add a water feature. A small pool or a larger one. It would be wonderful

  6. rusty duck says:

    I’d settle for your beach anytime. I grew Berkheya as well this year. Yours is better behaved, mine have become overly tall and lanky, perhaps because we have more rain?
    I follow the nursery which supplies the Minack. I bought an Agapanthus imperatus from them last year which has just put up its first bloom. Addictive plants aren’t they! They seem to do well here too. If our climate keeps on going the way it is they might even become invasive!

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Jessica. Yes, agapanthus are addictive, each year I grow on far more seedlings than I need. I have even found that they seed themselves which surprised me in our climate. Even though I have so many, I bought two more a couple of years ago, a gorgeous large flowered one called ‘Queen Mum’ and Agapanthus imperatus. I thought it would be fun to add to the gene pool.

  7. Your beach if FABulous! Like you, I’ve had to avoid our local beaches which have been totally overrun by tourists from nearby cities, who then have the audacity to complain about lineups! AND they leave garbage everywhere!!!!! Anyway..next year will hopefully be a bit calmer…Agapanthus…so beautiful….

  8. Very creative. Our Agapanthus are long done as they bloom in early spring. It seems that it is hot everywhere. We are hitting 101f here today.

  9. Cathy says:

    What fabulous Agapanthus you have. I love the idea of a seaside garden and your choice of plants really does make me think of sand and salty sea breezes. I would love a sea breeze right now in fact as it is still very hot and humid here. The Eryngium has gone on one of my wishlists, as well as a linum. 😃

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Cathy, I wish I’d made my beach bigger, I am pleased with it. I was influenced by Derek Jarman’s garden at Dungeness.

      • Cathy says:

        I had to look that garden up as I had not heard of it. Quite a magical place, but I must say I prefer your ‘beach’ without a nuclear power station nearby!

  10. Cathy says:

    Oh doesn’t this work well? As usual you have had the vision to create the overall effect you envisaged. The agapanthus are gorgeous and I love the little campanula, whilst I have always had a soft spot for flax. Do you know which agapanthus the seedlings were from that you sent me last year? A friend bought one of the ones I grew from seed from Bristol cathedral and hers is flowering, unlike mine, which was about 2 years after sowing

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Cathy. The seedlings I sent you were all from my beach. They don’t come true from seed so you will get surprises. I have 2 blooming from the same batch but 2 years is quite quick, most of them take three years.

  11. Frog says:

    Oh what wonderful agapanthus indeed ! Lovely to see all your silene. I lost my variegated one which was one of my first plants and did very well until I started moving it here and there. Would love to have it again. I am in Normandy now but this year the local farmer has grown rapeseed where he had flax last year.

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you. How lovely to be in Normandy. The véloroute du Lin goes from near Dieppe to Fécamp. We hope to go next year I shall be disappointed to find rape instead of flax, we get more than enough of that here.

  12. alison41 says:

    What a lovely blue & white cooling post you gave us. Your agapanthus are gorgeous – I never knew they had such a wide colour range. They do well here, as does the bulbine, my garden is full of it. I find it a useful plant, as the sticky sap provides a very good remedy for minor cuts, scratches and skin problems.

  13. Anna says:

    Oh thank you for the trip to the seaside Chloris which was most refreshing. I’m not sure whether we will get to see the sea this year which is sad. We have postponed a holiday based in Nice this October which I was really looking forward to. I had to chuckle at your antics on a French roundabout. I’ve had enough trouble over the years trying to take photos of their amazing roundabouts as himself has just wanted to drive through as quickly as possible. I think that he would probably drive off and leave me if I am attempted to extract a snippet of a plant 😂 Beautiful agapanthus.

    • Chloris says:

      It is so sad to have to cancel holiday plans but I would rather stay safe at home. French roundabouts are often beautifully planted. We were on foot in a small town when the crime was committed; I didn’t jump out of the car to do it.

  14. Meriel in Wicklow says:

    Really loving it.

  15. Relijen says:

    What a lovely space. 🙂 I know what you mean about missing those places you long to go to, as I’m sure many around the world do, right now. I absolutely love agapanthus. I grew many of them back in California. I have yet to learn how to successfully grow them here in “Winterpeg” Manitoba. Lol But, living is learning and I will assuredly figure it out. 😀 Thank you for the reminder and the inspiration!

    • Chloris says:

      Manitoba is in Canada isn’t it? The large headed agapanthus are not hardy. I get them through the winter by covering them with lots of fleece.

      • Relijen says:

        Yes! We’re here on the Canadian prairies 😃 Fleece is a very good idea. Here, I depend a lot on leaf mulch and lots of packed snow. It seemed a little counter-intuitive at first but the more snow, the better protected the plants are.

  16. Denise Maher says:

    Berkheya, silene, glaucium, agapanthus, succulents — so many of your plants are also in my garden a mile from the beach in So. Caif. Growing up here, I’ve stayed away from the beach for many years — too crowded, parking, etc — but in this pandemic year I decided to look around and found a beach not far that gets very few visitors. And I’ve since found out for good reason! Apparently stingrays love to hang out in the shallows, and more people are stung here than anywhere in the U.S.! I stay out of the water and hang out with a book on the mostly empty beach except for seagulls. So glad you found a “beach” to enjoy too.

    • Chloris says:

      How lovely to find your own beach even if you do have to share it with stingrays. I remember going swimming with stingrays in the Cayman Islands years ago. Are the Caribbean ones smaller?

  17. I love your fantasy beach, Chloris! I’m impressed (but not surprised) that you grew your Agapanthus from seed. Watch out for the Bulbine – I had it for years but, at some point when I wasn’t looking, it spread like crazy and I ended up pulling it all out. I’ve tried Erygium a couple of times without success but I do love it and will undoubtedly try it again sometime in an effort to find a spot it likes.

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Kris. Bulbine won’t be a problem here, the frost kills it. There are some lovely varieties of eryngium, I should think they would do well for you.

  18. Heyjude says:

    What a lovely beach! I have so enjoyed my visit to your beautifully designed gravel garden. I bought several very young agapanthus last year and three have flowered this year, the others are still fairly small. I might repot the ones which are sharing a pot next month. The pretty variegated one (Silver Moon I think) is planted in the garden, but hasn’t flowered for several years! I wonder if I should dig it up and put it back in a pot! BTW my greatest envy is for your shed 😋

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Jude. Oh yes, Silver Moon is very pretty. Perhaps it might do better in a pot. I love my sheshed, it is a lovely place to be when it is raining.

  19. tonytomeo says:

    Drift of thrift? It is native on the coast here.
    Bulbine is rad, but not many others appreciate it. I got mine just last year, or the year before. The guy who gave it to me did not understand why I was so jazzed to get it. He would have discarded it otherwise.

    • Chloris says:

      Thrift is native here too but there are some lovely cultivated varieties. I love Bulbine frutescens but it is not hardy here. Still it is easy from cuttings.

      • tonytomeo says:

        Thrift seems to be native to many places. I can not imagine how it got around so much. Many species have vast natural ranges, but not many are on different continents.

  20. pbmgarden says:

    Your beach retreat is inspiring. Love all the blues and whites. I’ve always loved flax but it is short-lived in my garden. I probably need to give it better drainage.

  21. veronica says:

    I live those agapanthus . I have two large seed heads so I will try to gather then in . Are they easy to grow from seed ?

  22. ecopoet says:

    very fresh & inviting – love the cool tones , eco 🙂

  23. snowbird says:

    It’s the same here, far too hot to move apart from that endless backbreaking watering! Gardeners are never happy with the weather….hubs is sick of me moaning about it on a daily basis. Climate change is here and having an impact now, I no longer recognize the seasons, haven’t done for years now,
    Your beach and blues certainly calmed and cooled me! I especially loved that adorable little campanula, loved how you saw it as dinky bells. Oh…the agapanthus…goodness, just stunning!!!xxx

    • Chloris says:

      You are right, climate change is here. But we have had some lovely rain and plants are perking up and looking much happier. Do you have any agapanthus? If not I will send you seeds when they are ripe.

  24. snowbird says:

    I have some but they don’t seem to like my sandy soil, I’ve taken to growing them in pots. I’ve never grown them from seed so would be delighted if you happy to send me some! Thanks so much!!!xxx

  25. NCS says:

    Now this is my fave part of the year!! Love beach planting – great ideas

  26. What a wonderful little beach you have created. I like the imaginative mix of “beach” plants, even those that are not really maritime. I particularly like the orange horned Sea Poppy.

  27. mostlynadia says:

    I grew up with these flowers all over the place, really brings back memories. Theyre beautiful!

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