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


426-211 (HORT-186P)

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; Holly Scoggins, Floriculturist, Virginia Tech, Reviewed by Leslie Peck, Graduate Assistant, Horticulture, Virginia Tech, Holly L. Scoggins, Associate Professor, Horticulture, Virginia Tech

The Statewide Garden Theme

Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) developed the America’s Anniversary Garden to help individuals, communities, and groups mark America’s 400th Anniversary in 2007 with a signature garden planting. The signature gardens have red, white, and blue color schemes and, upon their release, were promoted and marketed throughout the state and beyond. Although the commemoration has passed, this guide continues to be a useful guide for creating a patriotic garden. This is the second in a series of VCE garden design, plant selection, plant installation, and maintenance publications for these patriotic gardens.

Corridor and Entrance Gardens

Planting a patriotic 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 red, white and blue garden planted beneath the welcome sign to your community, the impact will enhance the visual experience for tourists visiting the area. Communities may contact their local Virginia Cooperative Extension office for assistance with using these resources for local beautification efforts. See a list of all VCE offices at

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, See for additional container and landscape designs, photos, and plant information.

(NOTE: Please refer to your local ordinances and state statutes for right-of-way restrictions prior to planning your patriotic garden on public entrance corridors.)

Low-Clearance Sign

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 a patriotic 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

High-Clearance Sign. This patriotic 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

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

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.

Show Your Colors, Virginia!

Share your patriotic garden with your community and its visitors. Help spread patriotism across the commonwealth.

Resources and Acknowledgements

Patriotic Gardens: How to Plant a Red, White, and Blue Garden, Virginia Cooperative Extension publication 426-210,

Annuals: Culture and Maintenance, Virginia Cooperative Extension publication 426-200,

Perennials: Culture, Maintenance and Propagation, Virginia Cooperative Extension publication 426- 203,

Tree and Shrub Planting Guidelines, Virginia Cooperative Extension publication 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.

Suggested Plant Selections for Patriotic Gardens

Code  Common Name Botanical Name (suggested cultivars; ask your retailer for local suggestions) Height/ Spread Sun/ Shade 1 Dry/ Wet 2 Color
A lantana Lantana
‘Patriot Cherry’  ‘Patriot Pony Red’ 

30"-42" 16"-20"/ 16"-18"
fs-ps d-m red flowers
B pentas Pentas lancelolata ‘New Look Red’ 'Galaxy Mars’ ‘Graffiti Bright Red’   12"-24"/
12"-24" 16"/16"
fs-ps d-m red flowers
C verbena Verbena ‘Tukana Scarlet’   ‘Escapade Red’   6"-8"/ 12"-18" 6"-10"/ 12"-18" fs-ps d-m red flowers
D angelonia Angelonia ‘Angelface White’ 12"-18"/ 12"-14" fs-ps d-m white flowers
E petunia Petunia x hybrida 6"-12"/ 12"-48" fs-ps m white flowers
F fan flower Scaevola x ‘Whirlwind White’ 8"-14"/ 10"-12" fs-ps m white flowers
G bacopa Bacopa ‘Snowstorm’ 3"-8"/ 20"-30" fs-ps m white flowers
H lobelia Lobelia ‘Laguna Dark Blue’
(Not recommended for S.E. Va.)
3"-6"/ 10"-12" fs-ps m blue flowers
I petunia Petunia ‘Wave Blue’ 6"-8"/ 24"-48" fs-ps m blue flowers
J salvia Salvia farinacea ‘Victoria Blue’ 18"-20"/ 12"-14" fs-ps m blue flowers
K verbena Verbena x hybrida
‘Temari Blue’ ‘Tukana Denim Blue’ 'Superbena Dark Blue’
  12"/12" 6"/24" 8"/28" fs-ps m blue flowers
L yarrow Achillea millefolium
‘Red Velvet’
24"-30"/ 18"-24" fs-ps m-d red flowers
M daylily Hemerocallis ‘Frankly Scarlet’ 24"-30"/ 18"-24" fs-ps w-d red flowers
N bee balm* Monarda didyma*
‘Jacob Kline’
36"-48"/ 18"-24" fs-ps w-m red flowers
O Shasta daisy Leucanthemum x superbum ‘Snowcap’ 10"-14"/ 12"-18" fs-ps m white flowers
P Aztec grass Liriope muscari ‘Aztec’ (Recommended for S.E. Va.) 18"-24"/ 12"-18" fs-ps d-m white, variegated foliage
Q garden phlox* Phlox paniculata* ‘David’ ‘Volcano White’ 36"-48"/ 12"-24" fs-ps m white flowers
R speedwell Veronica ‘Icicle’ (Not recommended for S.E. Va.) 18"-24"/ 18"-24" fs-ps m white flowers
S cranesbill Geranium ‘Rozanne’ 18"-20"/ 18"-24" fs-ps m blue flowers
T bellflower Campanula carpatica ‘Blue Clips’ 6"-12"/ 10"-12" fs-ps d-m blue flowers
U speedwell Veronica x ‘Goodness Grows’ 12"-15"/ 12"-18" fs-ps m blue flowers
SA redtwig dogwood, (redosier dogwood)* Cornus spp.* (Not recommended for S.E. Va.) 8' - 10'/ 8' - 10' fs-ps w-d white flowers, blue or white fruit, red winter stems
SB bigleaf hydrangea Hydrangea macrophylla ‘All Summer Beauty,’ ‘Blue Billows,’ ‘Blue Wave,’ ‘Endless Summer,’ ‘Glowing Embers,’ ‘Lady in Red,’‘ Nikko Blue,’ ‘Pia’: (not recommended for the coldest mountain areas) 4' - 6'/
6' - 8'  
2' - 4'/
2' - 3'
ps-fs m-w some cultivars have white, some blue, some red flowers
SC winterberry, coralberry, deciduous holly* Ilex verticillata* ‘Winter Red’ recommended; male pollinator necessary for fruit set such as ‘Southern Gentleman’ 6' - 15'/ 6' - 10' fs-ps m-d white flowers, red berries
SD Virginia sweetspire* Itea virginica* ‘Henry’s Garnet,’ ‘Little Henry’ 4' - 6'/
3' - 4'
ps-fs w-d white flowers, red fall color
TA downy serviceberry, Juneberry* Amelanchier arborea* 10'-25'/
10' - 15'
fs-ps d-m white flowers, red fruit
TB Alleghany serviceberry* Amelanchier laevis* 15'- 25'/ 15' - 25' fs-ps d-m white flowers, red fruit
TC fringetree* Chionanthus virginicus* 12'- 20'/ 12' - 20' fs-ps w-m white flowers, blue fruit
TD dogwood* Cornus florida* 15'- 30'/ 15' - 30' ps-fs m white flowers, red fruit, red fall color
TE sweetbay magnolia* Magnolia virginiana* 10'- 60'/ 10' - 20' fs-ps w-m white flowers, red seeds in fruit pod


1 Sun/Shade fs=full sun ps=part sun/part shade

2 Dry/Wet w= prefers wetter soil m=prefers evenly moist soil d=somewhat dry/drought tolerant

*Virginia native plant

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

Virginia Cooperative Extension is a partnership of Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and local governments. Its programs and employment are open to all, regardless of age, color, disability, sex (including pregnancy), gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, military status, or any other basis protected by law

Publication Date

July 9, 2020