There are certain plants that are mandatory to grow in a coastal garden including sea holly, sea thrift and sea kale. In truth there is no statutory law, only perhaps a law of nature that tells us these things will do well in our conditions and because of that it would be rude not to give them a go. Or just daft to ignore species that have the word “sea” in them. One plant that falls into this category is the sea buckthorn or Hippophae rhamneoids and I have been drawn to/repulsed by it for a while. It featured on one of Ray Mears’ survival programmes and I was intrigued as he spent hours extracting juice from the bitter fruit only to damn it with faint praise and a sour expression. What a palaver for something that makes your hair stand on end. Last year when I visited the Tapley Park I was impressed by two vast specimens that provided the upper storey of a corner of the permaculture garden. The head gardener, enthusiastic and knowledgeable, extolled the many virtues these trees share; they provide winter food for many birds including the fieldfare, they pay host to several moth species, the fruits are full of antioxidants and vitamins (with -oids a plenty) and can be used not only in wines, pies and preserves but as a skin salve. Inspired by this fabulous piece of buckthorn marketing we sowed seed and the resultant buckettes have grown slowly but steadily ever since. We are now the proud owners of about half a dozen plants which I am planning on using as a replacement hedge. There is one little hitch, some plants are male and some are female and you need both to get fruit. Without the fruit I am not sure it is worth the pain (it is not called buckTHORN for nothing). Anyone know how do sex a sea buckthorn seedling?