PARTY PLANTS TO LAST ANOTHER 60 YEARS
Will your Jubilee celebrations be a one-day stand or something more lasting? We will all retain poignant memories of the great day, but it will be more special if we can plant or create something for future generations to enjoy and that gives pleasure, just as the Queen has done for the past 60 years. If decorating your garden for a party, push the boat out. You don’t have to spend lots of money, but simply create embellishments that can hopefully be used again during summer. To get some inspiration, I spoke to Debs Goodenough, head gardener at the Prince of Wales’s organic garden at Highgrove for the past four years, and before that, head gardener at Osborne House (Queen Victoria’s Isle of Wight retreat). She recalls that at Osborne House they used to make triumphal arches to celebrate special occasions: such arches are a long-standing tradition – they were used for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897. They are usually made from a light wooden framework that is completely covered with evergreens (the gardeners at Balmoral use heather), flowers and flags. Often, suitable wording is added. “Sixty Glorious Years” would suit Diamond Jubilee arches, for instance. A simple, rustic version could be made in smaller gardens, using birch twigs, hazel or willow wands, or trellis: anything that can be woven, pinned or tied together, and then studded with flags and flowers, cut or in containers. Providing cover is crucial, especially if you are inviting more people than can fit into your house during a sudden downpour. You don’t want guests wet and suffering. Whether you go down the festival route and get a large tarpaulin to sling between trees, get a pop-up tent or two, or buy/hire a marquee, “glam” them all up with flowering arches. If you can run to it, buy three or four metal arches (from your local blacksmith), two metres or so high, that are wide enough to fit over a trestle table and benches, fit them in a line, sling a waterproof cover over the top and Flowers for Her Majesty: from top, red peonies; ‘Royal Jubilee’; white apple tree Red Windsor; and blue ‘Shikoo’ see the stamens. No doubt at Chelsea, there will be many stunning introductions named for the Jubilee. Debs is going to plant a Red Windsor apple tree in her garden: “This is a sport [a freak genetic occurrence] which arose in Hereford in 1985 with Cox’s Orange Pippin parentage – tasty and disease resistant. Also grown at a British nursery.” Make a commemorative plaque, so later generations will know the history of the plant. Make your own or have enthusiastic young relatives paint one. As for cut flowers, Debs suggests peonies, Philadelphus, or Ceanothus: “Anything that is homegrown, is looking good and sports the colours.” Up the road from me, at Burghley House near Stamford, the head gardener, John Burrows, is growing and planning decorations for the 10,000 people coming to celebrate on 13 June along with their guest of honour, the Queen. John is using slices of homegrown oak branches about 15cm in diameter and 10cm deep, as table decorations. He is chiselling out a hole in the centre to take a hidden vase, which he will fill with roses, alchemillas, euphorbias and whatever looks vibrant in the gardens on the day. Estate carpenters have carved two beautiful wooden spades and the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh will plant two trees with them: a large-leaved lime and an Oriental plane. So what is Debs going to be doing during the Jubilee celebrations? “I will be sometimes with friends and family, but also at Highgrove with the people I work for, to make it a very special time for them – it couldn’t be better than that.” Life readers can save 10 per cent when you buy roses (containerised, bare root or bouquets) by mail order from David Austin Roses. Quote DTSP to qualify. Order online at davidaustinroses.com, call 01902 376300 or write to David Austin Roses, Bowling Green Lane, Albrighton, Wolverhampton WV7 3Hb.offer valid until 31 July. 2012 Royal Jubilee roses can be advance ordered for despatch from November 2012 onwards. Each rose is £17.50, or three for £46.50, plus £5.95 p & p. Roses will be supplied as bare roots.