Beach asters, Shoreham

Beach asters (Erigeron Glaucus) are garden escapes from North America, often seen in seaside gardens. Coloured pencil on paper – 15 x 26 cm


Shoreham beach, where I found these Beach asters, is one of the richest vegetated shingles in the world. It hosts an extraordinary mixture of plants and animals, all of which contend with salinity, fierce wind and a lack of fresh water – not to mention trampling and destruction by humans. The landscape can look slightly surreal, the haphazard clumps of vegetation make formations that make strange silhouettes against the flat planes of shingle, sea and sky.

Beach asters (Erigeron Glaucus) are a garden escape from North America.

I like the idea of garden escapes: seeds floating on silken parachutes above the walls of the garden compound. Runners burrowing under garden fences, emerging free to take root where they wish, where they feel at home. On shingle, beach aster produces round clumps (shown in the picture). It is often seen in seaside gardens (I used to think it rather dismal). The plants at Shoreham are sculptural and showy, both in and out of flower. The blooms themselves are delicate and detailed.

I used coloured pencil – as a medium, it lends itself particularly well to the rendering of pebbles.

You might also like these other plants from the Shoreham shingle: Sea kale and Bittersweet. Or here is a view of the lower beach where even these hardy plants cannot survive.

Photo of Beach Aster, Shoreham,