coastal landscaping plants

Hey y'all,
My mom & dad (step) are permanently moving to their "retirement" home at the beach this winter. By at the beach, I mean right across the road from the ocean bay, between jacksonville & wilmington, nc.
I'm helping my mom get together some landscaping ideas for their yard. My mom really like shrimp plants (the type that produces flowers that make you think of actual shrimp) and wants to put some plants out in the yard there. I have read conflicting info on the shrimp plant. I read one place that shrimp plants are tropical and do well in tropical areas, and I have also read elsewhere that they don't do well in "salt areas". Does anyone have any experience with these plants or know if they will grow & produce well that close to the ocean?
Also need some info on the "pink flamingo" plant. Spotted one in the michigan bulb catalog, but can't turn up much info on it. Like the shrimp plant, the pink flamingo produces flowers that resembles pink flamingos.
Thanks, Rae
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There are a number of salt-tolerant native plants here: http://www.nps.gov/plants/pubs/chesapeake/index.htm I would assume the ones which particularly can handle the salt spray would be in sections like this: http://www.nps.gov/plants/pubs/chesapeake/secondhalf.htm#dunes
This was written for Norfolk, VA and north, but there probably is significant overlap with North Carolina.
Do you know just how salty the soil/air is? Is there a salty water table or are they above the water table? Does the wind blow towards their yard from salt water? I don't have much firsthand experience with being that close to the coast, though, so I'm just trying to think of what kinds of questions I'd ask.
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Jim Kingdon wrote:

Good questions! You gave me a bit more to research. I have no clue about a salt water table....
There is a tree break between them and the water in the front of the house, but the back & right side (if you are standing in front of the yard with your back to the house) is open ...the bay has a inlet that goes around behind their house, where my parents & neighbors use to dock their boats. It's not a beach town (yet, & hopefully won't be), more of a fishing community.
There isn't much of a salt water spray off the bay, but when storm surge comes in is a concern. The bay is a "no wake" area. Generally the wind ( ocean breeze) blows in across the yard from right to left...straight off the water.
Thanks for the links, will put them to use.
Rae
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I garden right on the coast overlooking a bay with just a low hedge and sheep pasture between the garden and sea.
Most coastal areas will be windy, and during stormy weather, the rain may be salty (salty enough to coat the window glass and scorch soft leaves). So pick plants which are adapted to survive wind and salt. The leaves are often a good indication . Plants with small hard leaves, long narrow leaves, waxy leaves, and felted leaves generally do well. Plants whose wild relatives grow on or beside the shore, also do well; they include many poppies, thistles, brassica family. I grow a lot of coastal South african bulbs like agapanthus nerines and crocosmia, and New Zealand natives such as hebe, phormium and coprosma..Unexpectedly (to me) lilies are completely unfazed by high winds and grow tall strong stems without staking. I try to contrast low tight mounding plants with airy clumps of taller ones (such as grasses, bamboo); partly for wind resistance but also, so as not to block the stunning sea , mountain and island views.
70 mph winds are common here and most winters we'll have some over 100mph. It pays to plant small, at the start of summer, so that plants have chance to extend a root system bigger than the top growth, before winter gales can rock them. Otherwise they risk being blown out of the ground I often anchor top-heavy new plants with some heavy stones over the roots for the first few seasons.
Making sheltered seating areas is a good idea :-)
Janet.(Isle of Arran, Scotland. Latitude 55 N).
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Janet Baraclough wrote:

Hey Janet,
Thanks for the input. My mom has just fell in love with these shrimp & flamingo plants, but I am trying to stick with tried & true coastal plants. I had no idea that lilies would do well there. Hadn't even considered them for the coast really.
We are going with some bamboo (bambusa alphonse karr), dwarf pampas, and several different hibiscus varieties. They have a couple of dwarf pear trees and a famosa (spell?) tree there already. Not going to plant anymore trees there, but still looking for hedges & flowers to set around the house, boat house, fish house, & storage building.
Winds only get that high when hurricanes/tropical storms hit. Otherwise, there is usually only a slight breeze daily, 10-15 mph some days. No mountains there either. Just the sea....the big beautiful sea!
Rae
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