17 November 2009

Colour in the Garden: Orange You Fond of orange?

Being as how NOvember is living up to its reputation as being a long, grey month (at least the cloudy days seem interminiable), I thought it was time to have fun with colour again. The colour du jour: Orange, in its various manifestations.
Orange: It’s a mixture of yellow and red, a secondary colour, named after the fruit by the same name. It’s a curious colour, because it’s been my experience that people either love it or hate it. I’m firmly in both camps. I wouldn’t paint my house that colour, or buy a burnt orange car (like my longsuffering did with a muscle car he had in his youth), and the only orange I willingly wear is blaze orange during the very occasional day during hunting season when I’m out riding my horse.

But in the garden!? Oh, jubilation. From the arrival of those yellow-orange crocus in spring (and that unique coral hyacinth, ‘Gypsy Queen), through the tulips and azaleas to the annuals and perennials that dance through the season, I have yet to find an orange I don’t like. Granted, I don't grow orange marigolds, dahlias or canna lilies, but only because I don't choose to grow those plants in any colour. There's only room for so much, after all. Even in my jungle.

I fell in love with Euphorbia 'Fireglow' the first time I saw it, down at Bayport Plant Farm, and had to have it. It does roam a bit but nothing like other rhizome-bearing plants. The bracts just get more and more spectacular in colour, and often we'll find a second production of flowers and bracts later in the season, possibly because I do let this plant spread in a controlled manner.

One of the new annuals I field tested this year was Proven Winners 'Flirtation Orange' diascia. It has been a fabulous annual, flowering its head off profusely all season. I remembered to shear it back a couple of times when it was getting a little scraggly, as they do, but this one stayed much more compact and floriferous than older cultivars. Plus I love the colour, of course. So in my books, we have a winner!

Because of course as with any colour, there are variations on the shade of orange. Amber, peach, pumpkin, carrot, coral, salmon, rust, vermillion…some have pink in them, some yellow, and all work amazingly with the opposite colour on the wheel, blue. The rich orange of this Mimulus aurantiacus, Orange monkey flower, with a blue lobelia hovering nearby, was a star all summer.

I love the colours blue and orange together;they bring out the best in each other, I find. Again, what I do in the garden I wouldn't necessarily do in putting clothing colours together, or painting my house, but the garden colours just work for me.

I was besotted by lantana years ago, and plant breeders just keep considerately creating more new, delicious colour variations. These plants aren't a problem here because they're only annuals; they don't selfseed, and the first real frost will take them out. But they are glorious while they're blooming, and butterflies flock to them despite the (to us) unpleasant smell of foliage and flowers.

The top one is Cherry Sunrise, and this is Tropical Fruit. I think.

Another plant that has entranced me in recent years is the Geum, with its blaze of yellow, scarlet, red, and orange flowers on various varieties. The plant at the top of this post is my favourite 'Cooky', while this 'Mango Lassy' comes in a close second. Both of my clumps have put up occasional sprigs of flowers since the main season passed, and 'Cooky' even obliged me with a few flowers as late as a couple of weeks ago.

This is a flower stalk from the well named 'Hummingbird Mint, Agastache 'Acapulco'. Everything about this plant makes me happy too--the way hummingbirds, bees and butterflies flock to it; the incredibly floriferous nature of the plant; the lovely lemony-minty fragrance, and oh yes, the fact that I overwinter the plant indoors so I'll have it up and blooming first thing in the spring.

As some of my readers know (I'm looking at you, Anna! ) I'm not crazy about petunias, but I love callibrachoas, or million-bells. They flower their heads off all summer, don't need deadheading, hummers love them, their colours are brilliant...is that enough reasons? This is 'Terra Cotta', which also comes now in a Super-Cal, a larger than callie, smaller than petunia, hybrid.

Meet 'Fireball' azalea, which stopped me dead in my tracks at a local nursery and demanded I bring it home with me. I can't argue with plants when they talk to me like that, and now it's out front near the echinacea collection, and with 'Kent Belle' Bellflower nearby to provide a punch of royal purple to the display.

Asiatic lilies have no fragrance, but they sure have brilliant colour. This is 'Cancun', which has been flowering carefree in our garden since the first year we moved to our house. I have another variety, currently without name, that is deep orange without spots, and another that is melon-orange; all of them are eyecatchingly lovely, especially planted near Purple ninebark (Diabolo) or deep blue delphinium.

That's probably enough for this post. Speaking of blue delphinium, there's a solitary, scraggly spike of sky blue delphinium blooming valiantly in the back yard, but it's too cold, grey and windy for this fair-weather gardener to go outside and photograph it today. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.


  1. Ha!!! You're so right, Jodi, orange is definitely a love-it-or-hate-it color. I'm convinced that people (or at least women) tend to prefer colors that look good on them, and with my pink-and-white skin, I hated orange with a passion... until I fell in love with quilts and quilting. Once I could see what a little orange could do for a quilt, and that you could choose peach, pumpkin, and a myriad other variations and not just Crayola orange, and that even that looked fabulous combined with other oranges in the creamsicle-through-scarlet range, especially when combined with greens or blues and an occasional splash of red... Well, suffice it say my anti-orange prejudice drained away. Orange is irresistible in the garden. And now I'll even wear pumpkin-orange tops, and (ignoring the pink-and-white skin) think they look pretty darn good with blue eyes and mahogany hair!---Silence

  2. Very pretty post. I love the orange and blue together in the two photos. I have orange zinnias which I have enjoyed and I still am! We used to have a cat that looked like your Nibbs the tripod. ahhh...miss the little guy

  3. Over the past few years, I have grown to love orange. I especially like the blue/orange combination.

  4. Lovely post Jodi, I don't have nearly enough orange in the garden (none in the house or my wardrobe thank you) especially as I can't resist blue flowers. I do have an orange geum, which I enjoy but I must get more!

    Best wishes Sylvia (England)

  5. Hi, Jodi! I've never cared for the color orange until I met orange cosmos and I fell head over heals in love with it. I definitely want more orange in my garden!

  6. Silence has hit the nail on the head - I hate orange because it makes me look sallow, and I love all the cool colors that look good on me. Silence is a better person than I am, I still hate orange, even though I can appreciate it artistically in someone else's clothes, artwork, or garden.

  7. A gorgeous color to me. You have such a plethora of oranges. Just say NO to the blues of NOvember with those oranges.

  8. Jodi, I didnt' really develope a fondness for orange until this year. Next year though I may start adding more.

  9. Hi Jodi~~ For me, if it's a red-orange, I've got a border for it. I love the Euphorbia, the Agastache and the Cherry Sunrise Lantana. But every plant looks great if it's in the right place.

  10. I keep telling people I don't like oranges and yellows in the garden, but I have some orange/yellow/red outdoor curtains around our hot tub and find myself buying coordinating annuals for baskets each year. They really do brighten a space.

  11. Absolutely glorious, breathtaking colors, Jodi! You've just converted me into an orange believer for life!!
    You always share the most beautiful photos of your flowering friends and I'm continually learning about new plants to love from your posts ~ thank you and may God bless you in every way...

  12. Hi Jodi,
    I enjoyed reading this post and seeing all your different colors of orange flowers.

    My favorite line was this: "There's only room for so much, after all. Even in my jungle." That is true for me, too. I haven't reached the limit, yet, though, because I have been able to talk my husband out of more grass each year. He says that's all, but doesn't know I plan to expand the border on the side of the house a few inches in the spring.

  13. When I saw you out there admiring my still floriferously blooming PW petunias, I just smiled to myself. I knew you were coveting that beauty for your own garden. Just too stubborn to admit it.

    I grew 'Flirtation Orange' too and she ruffled her petticoats every day. And I do love that 'Luscious Cirtus Blend' lantana that grew in my garden last year. That lantana blooms its fool head off.

    Thank you for walking in my garden today. But next time....take off your shoes before you come inside....you left a trail behind you.....I just followed it right back here ;) where you'll see that I just made my rounds in your garden. They are looking bootiful.

  14. Jodi, I never like orange flowers until about two years ago. Suddenly, I found I was buying more orange-colored flowers and liking the effect they made in the garden. Funny how a once disliked thing will become a favorite.

    Always Growing

  15. Loved this post and the stroll through your orange babies. I can't think of any orange I have except the red orange oriental poppies. Of course as soon as I click publish I will think of something else. Anyway, I loved looking at your extensive collection. Really beautiful. I didn't realize there were orange versions of so many flowers.

  16. Lovely gardens - We in South Dakota has already had temperatures in the teens. It is wonderful to look at a blog like yours - Thank you - Gloria

  17. I love orange especially this time of year but anytime really. My favorite combination is orange and its compliment blue... in a bouquet or the garden ... they are stunning particularly when the blue is a carpet of forget me nots and the orange is an interestingly shaped blossom of a rhododendron as seen in one of your beautiful photos. Carol

  18. Hey! Love the colors! I plant tons of orange in my garden bordering the street and bicycle path. Drives me nuts when people breeze by without noticing my flowers -- orange is kind of hard to ignore. :D

  19. That glorious, glorious lantana -- that is definitely my favourite colour combination for the garden. Just love it. Your Euphorbia 'Fireglow' has that combo, too, if somewhat less obvious. I do love orange in the garden -- and I DID paint my house rather orange many years ago...but that's a peachy story for another day. :-)

  20. I do, I do like orange! Another stunning combo ... orange oriental poppies and Siberian iris.

  21. Orange is perfect in the tropics! That's probably why there's so much of it here. And yes, I do love burnt orange colour in my clothes too. Thankfully it goes very well with brown skin!
    Other oranges I love? The Cordia sebestiana (Geiger tree) flames up a very drab part of my garden and makes it look much more interesting than it really is.
    And the bougainvilleas, cannas and heliconias.... orange definitely is a tropical colour!

  22. I plant Dallas Red Lantana every year because, for me, it pulls in the most butterflies, bees and hummingbird moths....and a variety of insects I adore watching. Even here, lantana is mostly an annual depending upon where it's planted and which variety one plants. My Dallas Red has to be replaced yearly.

  23. I don't wear orange either, but I sure am loving your orange blooms, Jodi! Gorgeous, each and every one.
    What's that in the second photo? I've seen them, but can't place them. I'm thinking ranunculaceae family, and alpine, but that doesn't help with the name. They're beautiful.
    I'm so happy to read that you overwinter Agastache 'Acapulco'! I want to try more Agastaches.
    Callibrachoas, yes! They are still blooming in my garage. I love them!
    Another positive thing about November...our Thanksgiving. All the family will be home. Fun! :)

  24. I've decided that I won't say I don't like any particular color of flower in the garden, because as soon as I say it, I see one of that color that I like. It just depends on the flower, I guess! I sure like your oranges! Love the Asiatic lily, especially!

  25. I'm a long-time orange lover and I would love to add the trollius you pictured at the top. I can't seem to find it's name- could you help me out?


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