Grow your own Union Jack
Patriotic planting plans to celebrate the Olympics and Diamond Jubilee
If you're looking for an unusual way to celebrate the Olympics or the Jubilee - or both - how about trying some ceremonial planting? A Union Jack flowerbed, or even a selection of red, white and blue plants in pots, hanging baskets or windowboxes will make a stunning backdrop to any Olympics-themed parties or Jubilee celebrations.
Buy the flag
Suttons Seeds has produced a kit containing everything you need (left): a Union Jack plan measuring 100cm x 60cm, printed on biodegradable, compostable film, plus 135 red, white and blue petunia mini plants. Place the Union Jack film on the soil, plant the petunias through it as directed, and wait for the living Union Jack to appear. Suttons Seeds Union Flag Plant Bedding Pack plus Flag costs £14.99, or buy two kits for £24.99.
If you prefer to create your own flag, or just want a red, white and blue bed, hanging basket or windowboxes, you can buy 72 red, white and blue Easy Wave petunias for £12.99 from Thompson & Morgan - saving £6.99.
If you prefer not to grow petunias, Van Meuwen is offering a Verbena 'Union Jack' collection of six plug plants in red, white and blue for £9.99.
For a scented display, how about red, white and blue sweet peas? DT Brown has 25 young 'Spencer' plants in red, white and blue for £8.95.
Grow your own
Buy or grow your own petunias, verbena or sweet peas, or take the advice of the Royal Horticultural Society on how to create a living flag for 2012. Jenny Bowden, one of the RHS Member Advisors, says: 'We have come up with some great suggestions that are relatively easy to grow. We know how important these two wonderful events are to people and we just thought that some patriotic planting would help in the celebrations.'
For a fantastic floral display for the Jubilee in June, buy partially grown plants and to put them in containers and hanging baskets. Suggested plants include white verbenas, lobelias and Nemesia ‘Wisley Vanilla’, red pelargoniums (geraniums) and blue Lobelia Panthera ‘Cobalt’.
For Olympics celebrations in July, August and September, there's time to grow the plants from seed. The RHS suggests red, white and blue sweet peas, red-flowered Salvia splendens, Nicotiana (tobacco plant) in red and white, and blue flowers such as ageratums or Salvia farinacea ‘Victoria’.
If you prefer growing veg to flowers, you could take a leaf out of the RHS Garden Harlow Carr's book, where they're growing red, white and blue potato varieties: ‘Highland Burgundy Red’, ‘Purple Majesty’ (blue) and ‘Elisabeth’ (white)!
If you plan to plant your own Union Jack, here's a template of the flag - scale it up onto your growing area, and mark the lines with canes and string or trickled lines of sand. Sow or plant with the blooms of your choice.
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