Having just returned from a long weekend at the beach I was again delighted to see what people are growing in their sandy environs. Lots of daisies, lavenders, rosemary, ceonothus, arbutus, succulents, lilies and bold perennials that I often think of as out of place in Portland gardens but that look great against the big open sky: red hot pokers, globe thistle, palms, calla lily. There was a distinct lack of my urban garden August woes: burnt crisp foliage, spider webs, itchy bitey white flies and psyllids, empty beer cans, the hollers of drunken midnight cart pushers.
The colors seem so much brighter to me out on the coast. Just a simple swath of red crocosmia against the faded shingles of a cape cod style house satisfied me. I decided for my future beach house design theme, I would plan for large, bold flowers, succulents as ground cover, a few small pines, some lazy grasses to provide movement and sound, and escallonia hedging if I needed privacy (I love their cute dainty pink flowers). Keep the vacation house easy and low maintenance and save the high maintenance for the place you spend most of your time. Or let nature take its course and have a beach lawn if your front door and windows are high enough and away from blowing sand: let the beach strawberry, flowering succulents and grasses take over.