Seen at The Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden - Chinese proverb

Friday, 11 April 2014

Paint the Town Red... or Gold... or Wild

Our nation's streets are set to look very different this year with 3 key initiatives helping to make it so...

A single red poppy at the Yeo Valley Organic Garden

Anniversary of the start of World War I

Perhaps the most moving display of them all will be the bright red poppies many places will sow (or have sown) to mark the centenary of the start of WWI. Expect to see the most poignant outbreak of them all timed to flower on the exact anniversary, August 4th.

WWI will also be one of the main themes for this year's RHS Chelsea Flower Show, where Birmingham City Council - famed for their innovative displays in the Great Pavilion - will feature 4 foot high poppies.

I'm not expecting to see many of them in and around Chippenham. Our proximity to farmland and the flower's plentiful supply of seeds ready to self-sow themselves are not a match made in heaven. However, a Google search shows many towns and cities will have poppies at the heart of their displays this year - Swansea, Blandford Forum and Maidenhead to name but three.

The Royal British Legion (RBL) has linked with B&Q for the real poppy campaign with £1 donated to RBL for each packet sold. According to their website (take the link), poppies can be sown now for a summer display.

Sunflowers aren't always annuals - here are some Helianthus 'Lemon Queen' from my garden 

50 Years of Britain in Bloom

A host of sunflowers are set to celebrate Britain in Bloom's golden anniversary this year and the RHS has given away 500,000 sunflower seeds to help make it so. There are lots of 'Growing for Gold' events as part of next week's National Gardening Week (14th to 20th April). The link takes you to the website where you can find out what's happening near you - gold or otherwise.

I'll be keeping an eye out for celebratory sunflowers over the summer as part of Out on the Streets and I hope to have my own little celebratory patch of gold up at the allotment as well as the H. 'Lemon Queen' in my garden.

The  cowslips at the entrance to our estate get better and better every year :)

Grow Wild

If you watched Countryfile on Sunday you're aware they had 230,000 packet of wildflower seeds up for grabs courtesy of Grow Wild. Yes, had - they've gone already.

So plenty of our gardens and open spaces are set to Grow Wild later in the year. This 4-year lottery funded project - also supported by Kew - is designed to get more of us growing native wild flowers. In 2014 they're also looking for 107 community spaces in need of transformation. Alongside 4 flagship sites - 1 each for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland - these are set to turn unloved sites into inspirational spaces.

However, it's not just about scattering a few seeds from a packet as they need looking after too. If you're lucky enough to have acquired one of the 230,000 packets of seeds (or some seed via other means), the Grow Wild website has plenty of information to help your new wildflower area thrive.

I have some wildflower mats to trial... and I think I've found the ideal spot. I'll keep you posted.

Is your neighbourhood set to turn red, gold or wild this year? Or perhaps there's something else planned - do let me know in the Comments below.

12 comments:

  1. I'll be sowing poppies, sunflowers and wildflowers on the plot soon. Flighty xx

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  2. What great ideas. We have poppies growing in our front garden which we inherited when we moved in. They are terribly neglected but return each year in full glory, not sure when they bloom tho' so they may miss the anniversary.

    We have sown sunflowers for the first time this year with some seeds we were given free at the end of a puppet show about sunflowers!

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    1. Welcome :-) I remember making a sunflower puppet when I was little

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  3. I usually sow sunflowers for our youngest son who loves them, I will definately be sowing poppies this year after reading this.

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    1. Hello Lorna - good to know this has inspired you :-)

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  4. Fantastic ideas, especially the planting of poppies. I shall look out for some seeds.

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  5. I will be sowing poppies in the garden, but I don't think the farmers would appreciate it if I sowed them along the lanes!

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    1. Same here Pauline - we're very close to farmland

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  6. When I woke up at 5am and realised I wasn't getting back to sleep one of the reasons was that I realised I finally had the perfect spot for 'Lemon Queen'!! Shall be intrigued to follow your experiences with the wildflower mats.

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  7. That's fantastic Janet :) Mine was inspired by seeing the display at Inner Temple show a few years back. Your bees are going to thank you for your planting it.

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