Southern Beach

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surf and beach, South Dunes, Jekyll Island, 27 June 2014

Perhaps my favourite garden is the beach, where I’ve just spent 8 days or so, briefly at North Myrtle Beach, SC, and for about a week at Jekyll Island, GA, a long-time love.

Like all gardens, the beach is in flux, every day a new day with an array of plants and animals to notice and appreciate. And the sensory experience matches any flower or vegetable garden:

>> The texture of the ocean — wet, at times choppy, foamy, smooth as glass — contrasts with the soft sand and the shell-covered sand, the cool packed sand and the loose hot sand; and with the prickly dune grasses and sedges, rocks, sea pork, sea pansies, egg cases, dead and dying jellyfish, horseshoe crabs and molted shells, whelks and clams, worms and insects, seaweed and seawhip, sponges and driftwood scattered about.

>> The sounds of the sea birds — seagulls crying, plovers cheeping, and sometimes even the wing flapping of pelicans and herons, if you’re close enough– and the rustling of the grasses and nearby palmettos, the harsh wind and soft breezes, the splashing of the surf, the scuttling of the ghost crabs, the squeals of children.

>> Even its scent changes: salty sea air, fish heads and dead rays, the faint perfume of morning glories and other flowers in the dunes.

>> And the eye feasts, on varying blue sky — indigo, ultramarine, periwinkle, powder blue, azure, teal — with white cumulus clouds, dark storm skies, dashed and fleeting cirrus clouds; the ocean green to black, with dolphins leaping, shrimp boats working; sand whose grain texture and colour changes constantly; up-beach rivulets and pools of water; sea-going and land-living crabs of all sorts; sea birds in flight, resting in the surf, scurring to and fro; sea turtles’ nests dotting the dunes at this time of year; and again the grasses blowing and the dune plants blooming. Again the striations of the beach.



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