How to Fake a Coastal Garden Look

These tough coastal plants give a beachy look almost anywhere

written by Kathleen N. Brenzel
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Seaside daisy (Erigeron glaucus)

Native to: California and the Oregon coast.

Looks like: A clump- forming plant (to 1 1/2 feet tall) with lavender flow- ers. ‘Sea Breeze’ has large pink blooms; ‘Wayne Roderick’ (‘W.R.’) grows 8 inches tall.

Use it: In low, wide containers, or in sunny rock gardens with fast-draining, sandy soil.

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Beach strawberry (Fragaria chiloensis)

Native to: Pacific Coast beaches and bluffs.

Looks like: White flowers on a low mat of dark green leaves in spring. Blooms are followed by red fruits that draw birds.

Use it: In pots or as a groundcover (it spreads by runners). In hottest areas, give it some afternoon shade.

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Common thrift (Armeria maritima)

Native to: Coastal areas around the world. A.m. californica grows wild in California, Oregon, Washington, and B.C.

Looks like: Tiny pink pompoms above grassy foliage. Shear off faded blooms to keep it going.

Use it: To edge paths or borders, or in containers. Needs good drainage.

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Gold coin (Asteriscus maritimus)

Native to: The Mediterranean and Canary Islands.

Looks like: A mat of green foliage flecked with yellow, silver dollar–size daisies throughout the year. ‘Compact Gold Coin’ is less sprawling.

Use it: Along a sunny garden path or in a container.

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Saffron buckwheat (Eriogonum crocatum)

Native to: Ccoastal areas of Ventura County, California. Find it at native-plant nurseries.

Looks like: A mound of white leaves with clusters of yellow flowers that age to bronze.

Use it: In pots and rock gardens, where it’ll attract butterflies. It does best near the coast, in fast-draining soil.

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Plant a beach in a pot

For a coastal vignette on a sunny patio, set small plants, such as seaside daisy and thrift, in a low, wide bowl. Top with a thin layer of washed sand, and tuck in a few shells or pieces of driftwood.