Celebrating The Queen's Platinum Jubilee In The Garden

To celebrate the 70 years of Queen Elizabeth’s reign “The Queen’s Green Canopy Initiative” is a concept inviting people in the UK to plant trees as a lasting legacy to honour The Queen’s leadership and service to the nation for the last 70 years.

The aim is to help the environment by planting trees during her Platinum Jubilee Year. Planting more trees is our most powerful weapon in the fight against climate change. Trees are the ultimate carbon capture and storage machines. Like great carbon sinks, woods and forests absorb atmospheric carbon and lock it up for centuries through photosynthesis. The entire woodland ecosystem plays a huge role in locking up carbon, including the living wood, roots, leaves, deadwood, surrounding soils and its associated vegetation.

The initiative will create a green legacy of its own, with every tree planted bringing benefits for people, wildlife and climate, now and for the future. The Queen and The Prince of Wales planted the first Jubilee tree, a Verdun Oak, in the grounds of Windsor Castle earlier this year. Verdun Oaks were first planted in the UK as memorials following World War I. The acorns were collected at the battlefield of Verdun and grown into young trees. The Prince of Wales describes tree planting as a “statement of hope and faith in the future”. The Queen has been planting trees since she acceded to the throne in 1952. During her reign she has planted more than 1,500 trees worldwide. If you do not have space to plant your own tree contribute to a local “ The Queen's Green Canopy” project to create a network of individual trees, avenues, copses and whole woodlands in honour of Our Queen.

We can also celebrate by using the national colours of the Union Jack. Red, White and Blue for the summer flower schemes in our tubs hanging baskets and borders. Unless you have already grown your plants from seed these are now ready to buy from the Garden Centre. May is when most risk of damaging early morning frost is very low so you can confidently plant with just one eye on early morning temperatures. If cold is forecast just cover with fleece the night before.
If you are reusing tubs and baskets from last year first empty completely, remove the drainage crocks, and moss and liners from baskets. Soak in a solution of 1 part household bleach and 9 parts water for 10mins then thoroughly rinse in clean water and allow to dry otherwise things get very messy especially if you have a little helper.

If you are planting tubs whether plastic, stone, reconstituted materials or old galvanised baths make sure there are drainage holes in the base and a good layer of drainage crock, even broken up polystyrene packing, before adding any compost. This avoids the compost compacting. The composts we recommend contain little or no peat (the ultimate carbon store) which has been replaced by coir and wood fibre substitutes, which are both waste products. Westland New Horizon which is completely peat free claims to now produce better root growth than most other composts. Terry and I are trialling it this year so I will report our findings at a later date. Meanwhile you can always rely on Jacks Magic.

The same composts can be used for planting hanging baskets. These can be lined with moss and synthetic moss type products but these should be replaced every year to avoid any carry over of pests and disease from a previous season. It is a good idea to include water retaining crystals and slow release feed after a couple of handfuls of compost have been added.

So which plants shall we select? Here are just a few possible combinations.
If you have lots of tubs or hanging baskets its effective to choose a variety like Petunias which come in so many colours and plant a single colour per tub so one Red one White One Blue. Petunias are available as upright or trailing plants with single or double flowers which are often highly perfumed and like sunny patios. Verbena is more discreet and also available as upright and trailing varieties in red white and blue.

Other schemes for sunny aspects can include Red Geraniums, Senecio with silvery white foliage and White or Blue Lobelia all of which can be upright and trailing. If you are planting a shady place substitute Red Fuchsias for Geraniums and Impatien White Beacon for Senecio.

Sweet Pea Royal Mixed is a mix of Sweet Pea seeds in red white blue and royal purple. Plant directly into a large pot with an obelisk to support these highly perfumed much loved climbing cottage garden plants.

The Platinum Jubilee Rose has large double vibrant pink flowers with an incredibly strong sweet fragrance that will linger in the breeze. This compact shrub variety is ideal for beds and borders or even grown as low hedging. It is also good in large tubs especially on terraces and porches where the fabulous scent can be admired by everyone. We must find a place to plant this rose.