Mary Cullings Wright is the bed leader of the Celebrate Red, White and Blue garden. This bed is a celebration of patriotism through the use of red, white and blue plantings. The concept comes from the VCE initiative to celebrate Virginia’s 400th year anniversary in 2007.
Mary has been a master gardener since 2012, and the bed leader of this bed since 2014. You can find her at the TG most Thursday evenings and Saturday mornings. Mary has no co-leader at this time but she gets plenty of help from Ruth, Leslie, Kathy, Jean and Nancy. You can find Mary working during the day in the Perennial House at Merrifields.
The RWB bed continues to be under construction, and Mary is always challenged to find new plantings that will show all three colors at the same time. The July 4th holiday is a good example. Some of the plants Mary finds as the best performers is the Plumbago, Ceratostigma plumbaginoides, that surrounds the Nippon Daisy, Nipponanthemum nipponicum, in the fall. The fall is the one time she can truly count on Red (leaves of the Plumbago in the fall), White (the flowers on the Nippon Daisy), and Blue (the flowers on the Plumbago) to all be in bloom at the right time!
I asked Mary what she has changed over the years and she gave me the following. These are great ideas for anyone who would like to start their own:
“Almost everything in this bed could be considered changed. I removed any non-red,white or blue plantings and the Barberry shrubs (tick-haven). Added three shrubs Dappled Willow-white, Viburnum dentatum ‘Chistom’ – Blue Muffin, Viburnum dilatatum ‘Henneke’ Cardinal Candy and then edited out one, ‘Cardinal Candy’ to the Shrub bed (I over crowded).”
GROUND COVERS: Added Veronica x Tidal Pool, Campanula poscharskyana ‘Blue Waterfall’ and Arenaria montana Sandwort to already present, Ceratostigma plumbaginoides Hardy Plumbago, and Myosotis scorpioides, Forget me Nots.
BLUES: Agastache ‘Black Adder’ x3 (blue), Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’, Clematis x
jouiniana ‘Praecox’ Sapphire Indigo, Goldwell Creeping Veronica, Salvia x sylestris, May Night. The Viburnum shows dark blue berries in the fall, and this contrasts nicely with the white in the foliage of Dappled Willow.
WHITES: most have come from Nancy H: Salvia Snow Hill and Veronica alba, Buddleja lo & Behold ‘ Ice Chip’, Dianthus Early Bird Frosty, White Obedient plant,
REDS: Salvia lyrata, lyre-leaf sage (red leaf, white flower), Monarda didyma (red bloom),
Crocosmia Lucifer, Lychnis chalcedonica Maltese Cross (survived two seasons but not last
year) Dianthus Hybrid Fire Star, Salvia Arctic Blaze, Cardinal plant, Peony ‘Carl Rosenfeld’
This year she added Clematis x jouiniana ‘Praecox’, Sapphire Indigo, a ground
cover, which if all goes as planned we should expect the carpet of blue in three years, and she added the Cardinal plant.
The bed is “full sun” with poor/dependent drainage in the lower dominant
side of the bed. She has placed the Dappled Willow shrub, (Salix integra “Hakuro-nishiki”) which likes wet feet to encourage Right Plant – Right Place. Additionally, the bed is front and center for the deer to venture towards on their walk up the field, so identifying plants that the deer are not as fond of has been important. Mary has found evidence of fawns sleeping in the bed. If starting your own patriotic bed, remember that patience is the key and keep moving/adding plants as the season progresses. The foliage colors are also a key component. Airflow is crucial, so prune and plant to allow adequate ventilation.