The Smiths? treasured plants thrive with regular doses of ?fish and chips? mulch.  Photos by Yvonne Duivenvoorden

Of course, weather affects all gardens, but a garden by the sea has not only salt spray, but also the dreaded fog. Mildew starts to build up after a day or two, and container annuals have to have affected stems cut back quickly to save the plants. Most of the trees, shrubs and perennials make it through the spring and summer fogs, as long as Deborah clips off any dead material.

During winter, storms roil with waves so huge the spray hits the dining-room window, and the deck becomes a mass of icicles. Winter also brings freeze-thaw cycles swinging from ?20?C one day to 10?C the next, and they can?t count on a deep, protective snow cover. To keep plants from heaving out of the soil, the Smiths put heavy flat stones near each new transplant and wait until the ground is frozen before spreading mulch. Then they smother the whole place with evergreen boughs that must be whipped off in spring lest the plant crowns start to rot.

The Smiths? treasured plants thrive with regular doses of ?fish and chips? mulch.