Oct. 19 will be a special day in Yorktown - celebration time for the 225th anniversary of the 1781 battle that brought an end to the American Revolutionary War.
That commemoration is already starting with patriotic red, white and blue flowers featured at Riverwalk, a specialty shop and restaurant area that opened last year along the waterfront at Yorktown Beach.
Red and white begonias and blue salvia are just a few of the plants arranged in beds and containers along the brick walkways that meander past shops and restaurants. Patriotic planters are also located at York Hall, public libraries and the courthouse in York.
More than 35 planters containing red, white and blue flowers were recently created by York master and junior master gardeners and 4-H Cloverbuds. "Honor America's Past ... Plant for America's Future" is the theme for the Historic Yorktown Beautification project, according to Joel Bunn, 4-H extension agent for the county. "It was really a community beautification project as well as an educational opportunity for the junior master gardeners," says Joanne Chapman, York's landscape maintenance coordinator.
Virginia Cooperative Extension is also promoting the look of red, white and blue gardens now through next year. Its America's Anniversary Garden project was recently launched in honor of the 400th celebration for Jamestown 2007. The statewide goal is to get schools, organizations, businesses and home gardeners to create red, white and blue containers - and shrub and perennial gardens - in honor of the state's historical heritage. Earlier this year, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine helped plant an anniversary garden at Jamestown Settlement.
At Yorktown, patriotic planters are located among numerous trees, shrubs, perennials and ornamental grasses that were installed when the retail area opened. This weekend, that landscape takes on a Fourth of July look with flowers such as white gaura and pansies mixed with red coleus.
Red, white and blue petunias also create a salute-your-flag feeling.
"We hope anybody and everybody plants a patriotic garden or planter," says York master gardener Evelyn Parker who helped with the Yorktown plantings. "It's something adults and children can do."
Put in your own patriotic garden
Why? Plant one in honor of the 400th anniversary of Jamestown 2007-- and the 225th anniversary of Yorktown on Oct. 19. Says who? Virginia Tech and its Virginia Cooperative Extension program launched the America's Anniversary Garden project to celebrate the state's historical heritage.
Who should plant one? Schools, organizations, businesses and home gardeners -- kids on summer vacation -- are encouraged to plant red, white and blue gardens in honor of the first permanent English settlement. "We're hoping many schools will plant them to help teach not only about horticulture but also Virginia history," says Bonnie Appleton, a horticulture professor at Virginia Tech and member of the planning committee.
What are some recommended plants? In annuals, there's red lantana and penta; white angelonia and bacopa; and blue salvia and verbena. In perennials, look for red yarrow and daylilies; white daisies, speedwell and geranium; and blue speedwell. In shrubs, consider red-twig dogwood; blue and white hydrangeas; and white-flowering Virginia sweetspire. Trees include white-flowering fringe and dogwood. Many flowering bulbs can also be used.
No yard? Penta, salvia, verbena and bacopa can be combined to make a red, white and blue container garden for a patio, porch, balcony or deck. Petunia, ageratum, portulaca and vinca also feature appropriate colors.
Where can you get ideas? Visit anniversary gardens already planted at Jamestown Settlement off Route 5 in James City County, Riverwalk at Yorktown's riverfront and York River State Park, also in James City.