Cornwall LivingIssue #71

Cornish coastal gardens

Chris Plant from Mid Cornwall Landscaping Ltd hopes to help bring some spring cheer and inspiration for your garden.

Thoughts of enjoying your garden may seem a long way off after an incredibly wet autumn and winter, and even Siberian snow covering the county. But with spring weather now on the way, Mid Cornwall Landscaping’s Chris Plant gives us his tips on getting the garden ready to enjoy.

“Creating a coastal or coastally inspired garden isn’t always easy but here are a few tips to point you in the right direction.”

“If asked the question ‘what is a typical Cornish garden?’ the answer could be broad and varied,” explains Chris, “but for me it would be one that takes its inspiration from the amazing natural landscape Cornwall has to offer and especially our unrivalled coastline. Creating a coastal or coastally inspired garden isn’t always easy but here are a few tips to point you in the right direction.”

Create shelter

Chris tells us that, whether you’re protecting yourself or your plants, making provision for shelter is essential in a coastal garden and should be one of your first considerations. “When planning patios, decks or seating areas, I would always recommend you give yourselves several options to take into account the different wind directions and the position of the sun at different times of the day. These don’t have to be large areas; in fact, some of these smaller spaces often work best and become favourite hideaways.”

Walls can be constructed to give shelter and create a feature in the garden. These can be constructed from natural slate or granite and can be used in both traditional and contemporary coastal gardens. Block and painted rendered walls are ideal to create that Mediterranean feel and provide a backdrop for planting.

“Fencing makes a good windbreak, and I would recommend a style that still allows some wind to pass through rather than solid panels. Upright timber sleepers can also be used to define areas and complement the coastal feel.”

Chris suggests several shrubs and hedging plants that will cope with extreme winds and salt laden air and can be planted to give shelter. “Evergreen hedging such as the ever popular Griselinia, Euonymus, Olearia and Elaeagnus all work well as windbreaks.”


Living and gardening in Cornwall brings its challenges but also gives an opportunity to grow plants which are unique to our climate. There are of course a fantastic range of trees, shrubs, perennials and succulents which will thrive in your coastal garden. Chris provides just a few for starters.

“For the subtropical feel there are the essential palms such as Cordyline, Trachycarpus and Phoenix palms as well as the Yuccas and Phormiums. After a trip to the Isles of Scilly many years ago, I loved seeing the Echiums and Agapanthus growing ‘wild’ and have successfully grown these in my own coastal garden over the years. I also like to take inspiration from the clifftops and dunes and would include grasses, such as Stipa tenuissima, Miscanthus Sinensis and Pennisetum Hameln. I feel they work best interplanted with perennials such as Achillea, Eryngium, Echinacea and Leucanthemum.”

Chris continues: “Armeria maritima (Sea Thrift) brings a mass of spring and summer colour to our clifftops and can be planted in your coastal garden in gravel areas or in stone walls along with other alpines, creeping plants such as Erigeron and succulents.”

With many years of experience of landscaping, the Mid Cornwall Landscaping Ltd team can assist in the design, construction and planting of your own coastal garden. Why not contact Chris or one of the team today?

"Creating a coastal or coastally inspired garden isn’t always easy but here are a few tips to point you in the right direction."