Patriotic planting in red, white and blue

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THIS month the whole nation has been in a red, white and blue frenzy of patriotism over the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and I am glad to say that Holdenby House gardens are no exception.

Equally we all seem very gold, silver and bronze minded, perhaps influenced by the recent gold, silver, silver-gilt and bronze medals of the RHS Chelsea flower show, the Olympic torch touring the country or thoughts of our hopeful Olympic athletes and their up and coming medal haul.

Garden design can be at its very best when you allow a little national spirit to inspire your designs. We have this week planted up our semi circle border in the heart of the garden with a red, white and blue theme albeit with a hot and tropical Holdenby twist in its tail.

The walled border is now planted for summer with Agapanthus Africanus blue globe, Canna indica red president, red edged Abyssinian Bananas Ensete ventricosum maureli, red cordylines, Red Castor oil plants Ricinus carmencita, and a delightful crisp white flowering regal pelargonium with a red tinged leaf, all fronted with the red tassels of Amaranthus love lies bleeding.

Perhaps you could try a patch of patriotic planting in your own garden, whether a trio of lavenders, Kew red, augustifolia alba (white) and Hidcote (blue), or Sweet pea Flying the Flag - red, white and blue and beautifully scented - a jubilee hanging basket, or you could even try a Union Jack in the vegetable patch using red lollo rosso and little gem lettuce edged with red basil and rocket.

The Olympic Games are almost upon us and I hope we will have broken the back of the hard work in the gardens and have a little extra time to enjoy our gardens, the sporting events and sunshine.

If the Olympics are epitomised by achievement and the gold, silver and bronze medals, I would say Holdenby would be a silver favourite.

I refer of course to Holdenby’s silver border, a collection of silver foliage plants with predominantly white flower that has evolved over the last eighteen years. This border is really shining at the moment.

My early fears that the late May frosts had done for some of the tender and showy plants like Romnia coulterii, Meleanthus major and shrubby germander Teucrium fruiticans were unfounded as they seem to be putting in plenty of new growth and have recovered well from the scorch that was evident early on.

We have some superb new additions to our silver collection in Agapanthus Tinkerbell, a new white variegated dwarf specimen, Hosta white feather and Hosta fire and ice and Arundo donax variegated giant reed. These blend in with the giant silver thistles Onorpordum gigantium azureum and giant artichoke-like cardoons flanked by a couple of large silver pears Pyrus nivalis. The under planting of soft leafed Lamiums and Brunera is contrasted with viciously spiky Agave americana (the tequila plant), Yucca varieagata and Eryngium alpinum and bourgattii the silver and steel blue sea hollies. The early mass of white tulips have given way to forget-me-nots and foxgloves which in turn will be replaced with white and silver poppies and the exquisitely scented tobacco plant Nicotiana sylvestris only the lonely. All in all I am really pleased and proud of this border this year.