Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Beach Patrol

 East Hampton, NY beach

The weather was perfect this weekend for a few excursions to the East Hampton beach.  And while the ocean is always the main attraction, the beach vegetation in the Hamptons is truly spectacular.  Most of us (myself included) routinely walk past the grassy plantings,  searching for a spot near the water to plop down chairs and towels.  But as a gardener always seeking inspiration for natural landscape designs, the dunes provide some fresh ideas.

Grassy entrance to the beach

The sand paths, bordered by beach grass, rugosa roses, artemisia and other wildflowers, help frame the view,  enticing you to walk down the path and explore the beautiful water.  Framing a view is a classic landscaping technique I use often in my garden.  A framed view can actually make a small garden feel bigger by suggesting there are other areas to investigate.

Artemisia and grass pairing

I'm not sure how much of the existing beach plantings are original.  With so much beach erosion over the years, I know a lot of the dune areas have been replanted.  But with the tides and storms,  the new plantings take on a very natural look.

I found this beautiful artemisia blooming among the beach grass.  It has such sturdy stems, supporting truly dramatic flower buds.  The leaves look crisp and disease free so it obviously likes its location.  Not sure if this is native.

Unknown Artemisia 
While a similar grass/artemisia pairing would look good in the garden or a container, please don't dig up any from the beach.  This vegetation adds so much beauty to the beach, provides shelter/food for insects and birds, and helps with sand erosion.  I'll check with the local Nature Conservancy to see if they can identify this artemisia species.  Then I'll look for a good mail-order resource to share.  In the meantime, hope you'll enjoy more than sand and water views on your next beach visit.

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