Growing up in northern New Brunswick, Denise Adams was introduced to the pleasures of growing plants for food by her family. As an adult, she combined her love of the sea and coastal land with her interest in growing native plants and she gradually accumulated a wealth of knowledge about the conditions that contribute to a hardy Atlantic coastal garden.
Over many years, she recorded her observations about the effect of various types of soil, salt air, temperature and wind on the plants that she grew in different maritime locations. Recently, following her retirement from teaching, Denise drew on the material she had recorded in her garden journal to write Atlantic Coastal Gardening, which was published in 2014. The book describes her experience in growing flowers, herbs and vegetables, and includes tables showing optimum conditions and timing for each plant.
Her current oceanfront property features lots of rocks and native plants, which she has incorporated into the landscape for a natural look. Among her tips for a coastal garden is to choose plants with small leaves or needles, which are less susceptible to drying winds; grasses and succulents are also good because they adjust more easily to harsh climates.
Denise noted that she doesn’t try to replicate a manicured English garden on her rugged landscape but she does include a few tall perennials in areas where she has created micro-climates by using large boulders or thick shrubs as windbreaks. By drawing on native plants and local artifacts, she creates a natural setting where even a lobster trap can serve as a barrier to foraging deer on the search for her fresh green beans.
Among the hardy plants that she recommends for
coastal areas are: Fireweed, Balsam, Bindweed, Lupins, Blue Flag, Beach Pea, Gaillardia, and ferns. A bonus to coastal gardeners is seaweed which, after it has been rained on and dried, is useful as both mulch and “miracle compost.”
In addition to her book on coastal plants, Denise has also published a small book “Little Book of Sea and Soul”, a collection of recollections and photographs that illustrate her passion for both the sea and its coast.
Following her talk, Denise stayed to autograph books for members of the club who were inspired to put into practice some of the practical tips she had mentioned.