Flying the Flag
One of the major headlines that have dominated the domestic press runs this year has been Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee, the celebration of Queen Elizabeth II’s 60th year on the throne – a feat only achieved once before, by her grandmother Victoria. And her celebratory tour of the country, and, more particularly, her visit this week to our local borough of Bromley, has spurred us to write this piece.
There have of course been many efforts to commemorate this momentous occasion in our monarch’s history, varying from the mint of the commemorative £5 coin to the tour itself. However, with sites like Buckingham Palace and Hyde Park, among countless others, how can the domestic gardener hope to project their support for the Jubilee without fading into obscurity?
Well, you don’t read us for our car hire tips! No, instead you’ll find below a selection of annual bedding plants, which were chosen as much due to the timing of garden centre stocks as to that of the regal celebration itself. And as you might expect, the colours we’re focusing on are our national strip, the signal that has typified British pride and individuality since their inception in 1801 – I am of course referring to those of the Union Jack, whose colours you can now fly yourself, with the simple aid of a well-placed hanging basket.
Pelargonium (Geranium) ‘Maverick Scarlet’
For the crimson tones in your union banner we first have the variety of Pelargonium known as ‘Maverick Scarlet’. It prefers loamy well drained soils and, though strictly an annual in this country, it can be brought inside to live in the winter months. Dead-head regularly to prolong flowering.
Salvia splendens ‘Blaze of Fire’
This is an arching, upright annual which will bear towers of deep scarlet, bell-shaped flowers, becoming wider, descending to an emerald green foliage. For best results, keep this cultivar in a well-drained position, afforded full sun, but some shelter from the elements.
Tropaeolum majus ‘Empress of India’
Nasturtium, as this plant is otherwise known, is an annual with a climbing or trailing habit and the only real condition of successful cultivation of the Empress is to ensure her good weather and a well-drained soil, although actually nasturtiums are pretty tolerant of most conditions and will easily self-seed for next year.
Impatiens ‘Carnival White’
Busy Lizzie, as it is otherwise known, will make an excellent punctuation to the riots of the colour sure to fill your jubilee bed. It prefers a shady position and will (as the name suggests) produce huge bursts of white blooms to brighten any dull corner.
Nemesia ‘White Lagoon’
This attractive annual has strong white flowers contrasting well with its dark green foliage. It will grow in sun or partial shade and needs no dead-heading.
Verbena ‘Aztec White’
This spreading/trailing annual bears clusters of pure white blooms throughout summer and late into autumn, it prefers a moist, chalky soil and plenty of sunlight – great for hanging baskets.
Anchusa capensis ‘Blue Angel’
This angel may not be immortal, but its small but vivid blue flowers will cover the bushy plant over a long season, provided it is sheltered and given a loose, well-drained soil structure.
Echium ‘Blue Bedder’
Echium is a very agreeable annual, which is happy to be planted in soils of poor fertility and, aside from the obvious beauty that its rich blue flowers will lend throughout the summer, it is also one of the great bee attractors.
Lobelia is probably one of the most popular annuals both for hanging baskets and bedding and justifiably so, providing vivid colour all summer long.
Now obviously the formal ceremony for Her Majesty’s 60th is bearing down on us at a rate of knots, and as we can safely assume the last frosts have passed now for most of us, now is the optimal time to be planting your flag for the summer.
By Josh Ellison