My name is James Hughes, and I garden in Suffolk County, Long Island, New York. My focus tends to be on using coastal natives in creative (hopefully) ways. Bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica, Zones 3–7), beach plum (Prunus maritima, Zones 3–8), goldenrod (Solidago spp.), cedar (Juniperus virginiana, Zones 2–9), little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium, Zones 3–9), and blueberry (both high and low, Vaccinium corymbosum and Vaccinium angustifolium, Zones 3–8) make up the backbone of my garden. That said, I’m not opposed to using some exotics here and there.
I’ve enjoyed using some natives that don’t always find homes in our landscapes, such as Nantucket serviceberry (Amelanchier nantucketensis, Zones 3–6), swamp rose (Rosa palustris, Zones 4–9), groundsel bush (Baccharis halimifolia, Zones 5–10), and sweetfern (Comptonia peregrina, Zones 2–6). The birds love ’em! I’ve also enjoyed incorporating herbs into the landscape, as they’re low maintenance and lend a beachy vibe.
Included in my photos are my custom shou sugi ban wave-themed garden gate and fish-themed garden bench (complete with beer holder). Somehow I managed to make both without accidentally burning down the garage!
In terms of failures, there have been plenty, but I try not to focus on them too much—another way in which gardening is a metaphor for life, I suppose.
Beautiful visitors such as butterflies are one of the rewards for having a native-focused garden.
Beach plum has a beautiful spring display of white flowers followed by tasty fruits.
The wave-themed gate was created with the traditional Japanese technique of shou sugi ban, which involves charring the surface of the wood to preserve it.
Wide view of the garden, feeling wild and full of flowers.
This bayberry is showing its namesake berries, whose silvery-blue color is created by a layer of fragrant wax.
Blooming thyme (Thymus vulgaris, Zones 5–9) is one of the herbs in this landscape.
And the fish bench—complete with a beer holder!
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