Coastal Garden on Long Island Sound

Photography by Rob Cardillo

Heather was circumspect in her plantings. Rather than dominating the scene with look-at-me plantings, she strove to complement the outcropping. “I didn’t want to gild the lily,” is how she explains her “less is more” philosophy. Nature dictated some of her decisions. Unable to dig holes sufficiently deep to support most perennials with the exception of some particularly stoic Flower Carpet roses, Knock Out roses, a few dianthus, and gaura, she opted for shallow-rooted annuals instead. Painting with a palette of angelonias, Profusion zinnias, salvias, cosmos, lantanas, verbenas, million bells, creeping phlox, and portulaca, she pays homage to the coastal terrain. And in the process, Heather has gained an intimate understanding of stone. Anyone who thinks that seaside boulders are simply gray hasn’t spent time in their company. “Rock changes color with the light,” Heather has learned.

The colors in the plantings reflect the ever-changing moods of the rock face. In fact, the vibrant shades in the petal palette came as a surprise to the lifelong gardener. “The colors are amazing,” she says. “Something about the fog and dew enhances the spectrum.” The hues far surpassed colors advertised in catalogs. Similarly, the hydrangeas also planted on the property are a shade of sky blue rarely seen inland. They combine with the pines and blue spruce to expand the landscape’s rainbow.