Growing plants in a coastal position can be taxing at the best of times, the salt laden air, poor soils that don’t hold onto moisture for long combined with the scorching heat can make growing any form of greenery a test. Native and endemic plants are a brown thumbs way of making sure the success rate of your garden goes up, but I always like to put time and thought into the ground cover plants in my coastal gardens too.
By having a healthy coverage of ground covers you will achieve lots of good things for your garden, the soil will be bound together with the roots of the plants preventing erosion. The coverage will also prevent sun getting to any weed seeds that hit the soil lessening germination rates and subsequent weed growth. This ground coverage also helps to insulate the earth decreasing the need for excessive watering.
So what ground covers are best suited to this specific set of requirements?
The native Carpobrotus charmingly also known as ‘Pig face’ is a succulent type groundcover that quickly covers large areas with its fleshy water saving leaves. This plant also has quite spectacular bright pink flowers that are guaranteed to put a smile on your face. Propagation couldn’t be easier with fresh cuttings simply laid onto sandy soil with soil on top as a weight to ensure they don’t blow away and you’ll soon have roots down and the plant will be off.
The South African native Dymondia has a silvery white underside to its low growing dense leaves that form a greenery grey coverage of the soil only 10cm high. This colouring in the leave is an adaptation to drought making it an incredibly hardy plant. It is a member of the daisy family and gets a profusion of yellow daisy like flowers from summer onwards. I’ve used this plant between pavers and steppingstones to creep around tight and awkward shapes and spaces with great effect.
If you are after a lawn substitute with high impact look no further than Dichondra ‘Silver Falls’. With its small kidney shaped leaves in shining silver this drought tolerant spill over plant is great in rockeries, at the top of walls and slopes or even in a hanging basket or pot where the foliage can drape down to maximum effect. If silver is not your thing try Dichondra ‘Emerald Falls’ works just as well and can tolerate even shady spots too.
Grevillea ‘Bronze Rambler’ is an excellent low growing plant that does exactly what is says it does – Rambles around the garden quickly covering the ground with its fine filigree of fresh bronzy foliage that ages to green. This grevillea has the toothbrush style of flower in red that also attracts wildlife including birds in to the garden. It can tolerate a wide variety of soils as long as they are well drained.
Adenanthos cuneatus ‘Coral Carpet’ is a mouthful to say but worth perfecting as this ground cover will transform you garden, binding the soil together and getting it looking like a coral reef. It’s a cousin of the woolly bush but they look nothing alike – both do like a coastal spot in well-drained soil though. It has fascinating foliage with tints of red that glow in the afternoon sun so pick an open spot to get it preforming to its best.