The Boston HarborWalk offers amazing opportunities to explore the waterfront along Boston Harbor. A system of over 40 miles of pedestrian (and bike friendly) pathways, it winds along the waterfront from Dorchester to East Boston. http://www.bostonharborwalk.com
A particularly beautiful section between Carson Beach in South Boston and the JFK Museum and Library in Dorchester provides beautiful views of the city, Dorchester Bay and the Boston Harbor Islands. This section of the HarborWalk also offers a great study in plantings well suited for coastal conditions. With full sun, drought, coastal breezes and salt spray, plantings along the seashore thrive only if they tolerate these tough conditions. Below are a few examples of plants that are perfectly suited for the seashore.
|Large swaths of Fountain Grass edge the main pathway|
Ornamental grasses edge the HarborWalk pathways in broad drifts. Particularly effective are mass plantings of these grasses. Nothing seems more appropriate at the seashore than grasses rustling in the breeze. These plantings are even more enchanting as the early evening sun starts to set and provides backlighting for their colorful seed heads.
|Bayberry bushes full of fruit|
The pathway is lined with another seashore favorite. Myrica pennsylvanica, commonly known as Northern Bayberry. As a native shrub that is drought and salt tolerant, its perfect for planting near the coast. It is hard to miss the abundance of silver/blue berries this time of year.
I have a distinct childhood memory of my mother gathering bayberries and melting them to make candles. I called my mom to validate that I remembered this correctly, and true enough, she used to make her own candles. You simply boil the berries, collect the wax that floats to the top of the pot when cooled, remelt the wax in a double boiler and dip a wick repeatedly in the wax. Voila, a candle!
|Austrian Pines provide structure and screening|
Back on my walk, I found lots of Austrian Pine trees along the pathway. Austrian Pine is a great evergreen for the coastal garden; they are fast growing and tolerate windy conditions, sun and drought.
|Punches of purple from Russian Sage|
And for a punch of color in the seaside garden, nothing beats Russian Sage. It is drought tolerant, loves the sun and blooms throughout the late summer. With fragrant silvery foliage, the bees just go crazy for Russian Sage.
These are all plants that are at home in coastal conditions, and can be explored along the Boston HarborWalk. If you are lucky enough to have a garden by the sea, I hope you’ll find some inspiration in these photos!