Gardening: Deck out a coastal classic

By Leigh Bramwell

Whoever said gardens were not subject to trends? Over the past few decades we've lived with the chaos of cottage gardens, the extravagance of Italianate style, the discipline of natives only, and the un-gardenlike miserliness of the riverstone and Mondo fad.

But it's all proof that gardens suffer the vagaries of fashion just as houses and wardrobes do, although it's a lot less disruptive to trash an unfortunate choice of shoes than a Zen-themed garden with a solitary Japanese maple shading an area of stones.

At the end of this almost endless summer, it's very tempting to prolong that lazy, beachy feeling with a bit of coastal style. Not throughout the whole garden - good grief no - but a little corner where we can create a shrine to sun, sand and surf. Or something like that.

Of all the themed gardens I've seen, the coastal ones are the most innovative, the most fun, and the easiest to do on the smell of an oily rag. Landscape materials for coastal gardens are fairly simple - old weathered timber, shells, corrugated iron, boardwalks and blue paint. And the decorative elements are equally easy to come by, with the exception of the obligatory old dinghy, for which you may have to trawl the auction sites until you find one close to home. And while you're at it, keep a lookout for those great old timber and striped canvas deckchairs that look as though they belong on Britain's Brighton Pier.

They're hardly two a penny but you might get lucky and if not, there are contemporary, if pricier versions available.

But buoys, fishing nets, fishing rods, cray pots, rope coils, broken oars, marine-themed garden art, shells and arty hunks of driftwood will be easy to find, and once friends and neighbours know you're collecting, there'll be no end to the garbage they leave on your doorstep. Hang out at the nearest marina and you may even luck into someone fitting new sails to their boat and selling or giving old ones away.

Collecting flotsam and jetsam is stress-breaking but not bank breaking. Combine junk-finding missions with the collection of seaweed to enhance your soil, and you have the makings of a very good garden.

- Hamilton News

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