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America's Anniversary Garden: A Statewide Corridor and Entrance Enhancement Program



Authors as Published

Leanne DuBois, Extension Horticulture Agent, James City County; Elizabeth Maurer, Extension Master Gardener, Virginia Beach; Joyce Latimer, Extension Horticulturist, Virginia Tech; Bonnie Appleton, Extension Horticulturist, Hampton Roads AREC; David Close, Master Gardener Coordinator, Virginia Tech; and Holly Scoggins, Floriculturist, Virginia Tech

The Commemoration

In 2007, Virginia will mark the 400th anniversary of Jamestown, the first English settlement in the Americas. The 18-month-long commemoration begins in May 2006 and will feature educational programs, cultural events, fairs, and various live and broadcast entertainments sponsored by Virginia and cities and towns across the commonwealth. See the America's 400th Anniversary website at www.americasanniversary.com for information about this salute to America's birthplace. Communities and citizens also will be improving their streets, parks, schools, businesses, and gardens to celebrate this event.




The Statewide Garden Theme

Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) has developed the America's Anniversary Garden to help individuals, communities, and groups mark America's 400th Anniversary with a signature garden planting. The signature gardens will have red, white, and blue color schemes and will be promoted and marketed throughout the state and beyond. This is the second in a series of VCE garden design, plant selection, plant installation, and maintenance publications for the signature gardens. Communities throughout the state are partnering with this initiative to draw tourists to their own special places in Virginia.

Corridor and Entrance Gardens

Planting an America's Anniversary Garden on entrance corridors throughout the state is a way to create an attractive and inviting "front door" to welcome visitors and residents. A coordinated beautification effort can facilitate a strong sense of place and reflect the pride and visual character shared throughout Virginia. Whether your city or town plans to install an extensive landscape or a simple America's Anniversary Garden planted beneath the welcome sign to your community, the impact will enhance the visual experience for the many tourists expected to visit the area. This red, white, and blue theme will showcase the historic commemoration of statewide unity creating a lasting impact for the commemoration for years to come. Communities are encouraged to contact their local Virginia Cooperative Extension office for assistance with this effort. See a list of all VCE offices at www.ext.vt.edu/offices.

(NOTE: Please refer to your local ordinances and state statutes for right-of-way restrictions prior to planning your America's Anniversary Garden on public entrance corridors.)

Garden Designs and Plant Selection

The plant list and design suggestions on the following pages will facilitate a coordinated planting program and offer carefully chosen plants for the red, white, and blue color scheme. The list contains plants that are easy to maintain, provide lasting color, and are suitable to the many diverse climate zones throughout the state. In addition, many are Virginia natives.This publication offers three design options for corridor plantings. These designs are intended as guidelines or suggestions of landscapes that can be created. All designs and plant selections are for full sun locations. The plants - annuals, perennials, shrubs, and trees - have been selected to have at least one red, white, or blue feature. These are suggested plants. If these plants are unavailable or inappropriate for your area, use substitutions from our plant charts or suggestions from your local garden retailer or Extension agent. Always select plants that are well-adapted to the conditions found at individual planting sites. Use the numbered Extension publications listed under Resources at the end of this publication for additional gardening and landscaping information. All of these publications are available online via Virginia Cooperative Extension's website, www.ext.vt.edu. See www.ext.vt.edu/americasgarden for additional container and landscape designs, photos, and plant information.

Low-Clearance Sign. This design for a low-clearance sign located in full sun is an example of a red, white, and blue combination of easy-care annuals and perennials used to create an America's Anniversary Garden. The overall garden size is 10 feet by 10 feet. See the code column under annuals and perennials to identify the plants. Use substitute plants as needed or available. Notice that two options have been given for each plant (two codes which refer to the suggested plant selection list).




High-Clearance Sign. This America's Anniversary Garden design, for a tall sign with three to four feet of clearance and located in full sun, uses a larger collection of taller annuals and perennials - each with at least one red, white, or blue feature. The overall garden size is 10 feet by 10 feet. If space allows, select one or more of the small trees or shrubs to place behind the sign. See the code columns under each plant category to identify the plants. Again, two options have been given for each plant (two codes which refer to the suggested plant selection list).

Large Corridor Design. This landscape design is for a larger, 20 feet by 40 feet, corridor planting in a full to part sun location. This design includes more woody shrubs and trees in addition to annuals and perennials. See the code columns under each plant category to identify the plants and the two options given for each plant (two codes which refer to the suggested plant selection list).



Soil Preparation

Proper soil preparation is essential for the establishment and good growth of landscape plants.

Test soil drainage before planting. Dig a 12-inch test hole and fill it with water. If drainage is less than one inch per hour, relocate or raise the planting area, or install drainage to carry water away from the planting area.

Examine soil for compaction before planting. If the soil is compacted, consider replacing it with a good loam soil or incorporating several inches of an organic material, such as composted yard waste, to a depth of at least 8 to 12 inches over the entire planting area. Do not incorporate small quantities of sand; sand will increase compaction and decrease drainage.

Test the soil. Once the soil drains well and is not compacted, test the soil to determine if the pH should be adjusted or any nutrients added. To obtain a soil test kit, contact your local Virginia Cooperative Extension office. A complete list of VCE offices is available at www.ext.vt.edu.

Do not amend the soil that will be used to backfill around the root-balls of your plants. Using amended backfill soil can cause water movement problems, causing the plant roots to be too wet or too dry.

Watering and Mulching

Watering is important to settle the soil at planting, encourage root growth into the landscape soil, and sustain plants once they are established.

During the growing season, plants need an average of one inch of water per week. If rainfall is limited, supplement with irrigation. Even during the winter, it may be important to water perennials, shrubs, and trees if the ground is frozen yet the temperature is warm. Use irrigation methods, such as drip irrigation and water reservoir devices, to conserve water, prevent soil erosion, and target the water application. Overwatering wastes water, may weaken roots and lead to root decay, and encourages undesirable weed growth.

Mulch benefits newly planted trees, shrubs, perennials, and annuals by conserving soil moisture, moderating soil temperature, and suppressing competing grass and weeds. Apply mulch immediately after watering newly installed plants. Do not over mulch! Two to three inches is adequate, less if you are using a fine material, more if it is coarse. Use either organic mulches (shredded or chunk pine bark, pine straw, shredded leaves) or inorganic mulches (shredded tires, volcanic and river rocks). To prevent insect, disease, and rodent problems if using organic mulches, and bark abrasion if using inorganic mulches, keep mulch from touching tree trunks and shrub stems. Do not use black plastic beneath mulch around trees and shrubs because it blocks air and water exchange.


Planting Tips for Annuals and Perennials
  • Annuals and perennials grow best when the planting site has been well prepared before planting. Perennials, like trees and shrubs, will be in the same spot for several years so bed preparation is more important than with annuals alone. Amend the soil to correct problems with drainage and acidity or alkalinity. Incorporate several inches of compost or other organic matter throughout the entire bed to improve soil structure.
  • Gradually acclimate greenhouse-grown plants by placing the pots outdoors in a spot sheltered from strong winds and direct sun. Water them as needed and increase their sun exposure daily. Protect them from frost.
  • Before planting, water the plants well. To reduce plant stress, plant in the late afternoon or on a cloudy day.
  • Remove a plant from its container by gently knocking on the bottom of the inverted pot. Do not pull on the stems as this may damage the plant.
  • Gently pull the surface roots away from the bottom of the root-ball to reduce root circling. If a root-ball is very compacted, make a few shallow cuts through the roots on the side and bottom of the root-ball.
  • Water new plants in thoroughly with a water-soluble plant food, or after applying a season long, controlled-release fertilizer.

 Suggested Plant Selections for America's Anniversary Garden

Show Your Colors, Virginia!

Share your America's Anniversary Garden with your community and its visitors. Help spread the colors across the commonwealth. Support the commemoration of America's 400th Anniversary through beautification of our cities and streets and through the patriotism evoked by the focus on the red, white, and blue flowers of the America's Anniversary Garden. See www.ext.vt.edu/americasgarden for more details on the suggested plants and designs for additional types of gardens and containers.

Resources and Acknowledgements

America's Anniversary Garden website, http://www.ext.vt.edu/americasgarden

Plant America's Anniversary Garden, Virginia Cooperative Extension publication 426-210, http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/426-210/

Annuals: Culture and Maintenance, Virginia Cooperative Extension publication 426-200, http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/426-200/

Perennials: Culture, Maintenance and Propagation, Virginia Cooperative Extension publication 426-203, http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/426-203/

Tree and Shrub Planting Guidelines, Virginia Cooperative Extension publication 430-295, http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/430-295/


Special thanks to our reviewers: Greg Eaton, Extension Specialist, Blacksburg; Eric Bendfeldt, Area Specialist for Community Viability, Northwest District; Karen Carter, Extension Agent, Henrico County; and Monica Lear, Extension agent, Arlington County.

Landscape designs and watercolors by Elizabeth Maurer.

Project supported by funding from Jamestown 2007.


Virginia Cooperative Extension materials are available for public use, re-print, or citation without further permission, provided the use includes credit to the author and to Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, and Virginia State University.


Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; Jewel E. Hairston, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State, Petersburg.


May 1, 2009