Seaside gardens, wonders of man and nature… France edition!

Seaside gardens in France

From North to South, along the vast oceans of the world, French coasts are among the most beautiful in the world. They have mild, temperate climates which means that a great many plant options are open to their seaside gardens – botanically speaking!

Take a look at our French selection of seaside garden plants!

Plants in Brittany

A seashore in Brittany with hydrangea and sailboatsBrittany gardens are known for their stunning hydrangea. Why are they so abundant in this area? They take on a beautiful blue color due to the acidic soil. They’re easy to pair with many heath soil plants such as azalea, rhododendron, and magnolia.

To mirror the blue of the sea, add agapanthus for spherical blue blooms!

Brittany also welcomes plants from tropical areas thanks to the mildness of its weather, too. Every so often, you can glimpse palm trees or banana leaves reaching up over behind private garden walls.

French Mediterranean plants

Seaside gardens along the mediterranean include evergreen oakMediterranean gardens have a unique combination of endemic plants.

Silvery-leaved fragrant species alternate with bright-colored flowers.

As for trees, you can’t do without an olive tree! Also typical is the evergreen oak and the occasional bougainvillea. From among the many perennials, you can count on lavender, rosemary, statice, thyme, artemisia and helichrysum. Hedges is where oleander serves best  with its colorful flowers.

Plants in Normandy

Clematis wispy seed headsNearer to England, gardens in Normandy often have a touch of English influence. Thus, shrubs, climbing plants, perennials, grasses and biennials form ravishing mixed borders.

Within these diverse flower beds, foxglove, gaura, pennisetum, viburnum, phlox, daylily, clematis… abound!

Pergolas and arbors are sheathed in climbing roses, and tall trees like willow and beech extend their cool, generous shade. Always remember to plant a couple apple and pear trees for cider, too!

In the French Southwest

In southwest France, along sea, canna lily fare very wellFrom Vendée to the Spanish border, the ocean keeps temperatures mild, but strong winds come and go as they please.

Gardens must make the most of a set of plants that cope well with drought that sandy soil makes more harsh than it would be.

Exotic influences connect with native species, making every garden a battlefield of beauty. Balisiers and Strelitzia sway with the wind. More rigid hollyhock, centaury and chastetree will stand their ground. Heath soil marks another region, together with flourishing conifers, and further south still, ferns are abundant.

Which shrubs to plant in sandy soil?

Strawberry tree is great for hedgingTo create a hedge for your seaside garden, it’s important to select shrubs that can resist both sandy soil and salty spray. Sandy soil drains extremely fast. Water runs right through it, quickly leaving it dry. Nutrients go the same path: they don’t stay near the surface. So the key is to select shrubs that don’t need much soil moisture, and survives on very few nutrients.

Here is a great selection of salt-and-sand-proof shrubs for your coastal hedge:

Grasses, queens of the coast

Grasses will always find a place in a seaside gardenGrasses are ideal in coastal gardens because their frail stems sway with the wind without ever breaking.

As for appearance, their golden blades seem to merge with the surrounding sand and will complement every growing bed beautifully.

This family of plants has another valuable advantage: it requires practically no care at all. Perfect for a vacation beach house! Stipa grows two feet tall (50 cm) and forms green clumps in spring that turn to gold in summer. Pair it with Miscanthus, the feathery frond grass, and with Deschampsia that has vaporwave vibes. For a sprig of color, your best bet is Muhlenbergia capillaris: it boasts a rare airy-light cloud of pink seed pods in season.

Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Grasses at the beach by Pharaoh Ezypt under Pixabay license
Beach with hydrangea by Jean-Marc Rassaert under Pixabay license
Wispy seed heads by K Walo under Pixabay license
Evergreen oak by Rosalyn & Gaspard Lorthiois, own work
Canna lily flowers by Walt Musekamp under Pixabay license
Berries and leaves by İsmet Şahin under Pixabay license
Haze of pink by Scott Hecker under © CC BY 2.0