31 January 2016

When colour descriptions fail, make up your own: Porange!

Flower colours sometimes defy easy description. Some plants have blooms that start one shade then turn to another, or varieties that come in numerous different shades, or that have multiple hues in the same bloom. Shades of pink, orange, and red. So I simply call them Porange, or Poranged, depending on what colours are in the flowers. When the language fails you, make up your own words, right? 
Echinaceas are in my top five perennials, and always have been, but ever since the newer shades of yellow, orange, red, green came into being, I've really embraced them. I'm not sure how many different cultivars I have now, but quite a few, both doubles and singles, in every shade conceivable. Some of them, like 'Hot Papaya', really do change colours as the flowers mature, and epitomize the Porange colour. 

Normally, I am not a fan of bidens--the common one is a shade of yellow that doesn't really work for me, even though there are other flowers in a similar shade that do. But last spring, Proven Winners sent me some new annuals to trial, including Bidens Campfire 'Fireburst'. I am a fan! It has bronzy dark green foliage and flowers that epitomize Poranged: they have pink, orange, red and a little yellow thrown in for good measure, and the flowers change colour as they mature. It also bloomed its face off all season long, until I finally consigned its containers to the compost heap in early November. You can bet I will plant it again this spring.

 I do confess to having bougainvillea envy, because I have never tried to grow one, both because they get quite large and also because they are apparently toxic to cats. While my cats seem to have a sense about what not to bother, I don't like to take chances. Just LOOK at this, though--the flowers are luminescent shades of pink and orange together in this cultivar.
Of equally delightful colouring are some of the coreopsis varieties. Many of them are still that school-bus yellow that isn't all that, at least in my colour preferences, but there have been many new colour breakthroughs in recent years. Some of them aren't reliably hardy here in my zone, but if they bloom their faces off all season long, I'm of the opinion that they are worth planting if they're reasonably priced. I only put Coreopsis 'Red Chiffon' in last season, so I don't know yet if it's hardy or not. We'll see come spring! 

Digiplexis burst on the scene locally last year, and very glad we were that it did! This is a cross between the Canary Island foxglove (Isoplexis) and our good old stalwart Digitalis purpurea, producing flowers that have a slightly different shape and come in some glorious shades. This one is 'Illumination Flame'. It's not hardy here but it flowered really well so I will likely plant it again this spring. 
 I love tulips in pretty much any shade and form except common red and yellow--and I'll take those in winter as cut flowers! But my favourites are a tie between the viridiflora, the green-flowered tulips, and the parrots, which have flouncy, frilled petals in gorgeous shades. Of all the parrots, I think Apricot Parrot is my favourite, changing shades of pink-orange-apricot as it does--and with touches of green in the flowers, how could I resist? You'll see this photo again a little further down.
 Although these particular nasturtiums and geranium might not really be Porange, taken all together they are. I don't care if nasturtiums and zonal geraniums, better called pelargoniums, are considered common. I love them in all their happy shades.
Although I'm fond of all poppies, the Icelandics are a favourite because they bloom like mad maniacs all summer long--and generally self sow a few of themselves for next year. I hope this one does, because it was simply stunning. It was a little hard to capture its gorgeous shades, but those crumpled-silk petals? Irresistible! 

My friend Allan Banks of Harbour Breezes Dallies and Japanese Iris in Jeddore, NS, paid me an enormous complement two years ago, by registering a daylily in my name. He also named one for my buddy and fellow plant nut Rob Baldwin of Baldwin's Nurseries, too. Both of them have shades of Porange in them. (Mine is better because it also has a green throat, and I love that in daylilies. Hee hee. )

To wrap up...a photo that only contains one porange flower, but is special in other ways. Yesterday, it was four years since my beloved husband passed away. I shared this collage and post on my personal Facebook page, and I'll share it here: 

When we got together, he didn't know a lot about flowers by name, but he learned and had his favourites. So here is a bouquet of them, and for those who have missed my Lowell-stories, 
He loved sunflowers, and I still smile thinking of him making up stories/poems about this huge one outside our bathroom window. He really, really liked tulips and poppies but he invariably called the poppies tulips and the tulips, poppies. And would laugh in that huge joyful way about it.
He was fascinated by my orchids, especially the green paphiopedilum I had with its china, alien beauty. He was afraid to touch it--he did have a knack for breaking things like pottery, so he would come in the office and look at it then look at me and shut his eyes and say, "not touching!" (he did the same thing with my Nova Scotia Crystal single malt glasses, too!)
In the late winter/early spring, he would burst in the house and though he could never remember the name 'hepatica' he would remember it had something to do with liver and he'd announce "that liver-flower is in bloom already!"
But his favourite was the wild red trillium, which he rescued some of from a woodlot nearby and helped me plant in our garden. And in the spring of an evening, we'd go down to the woods and we'd count how many trillium were in flower. He would get so excited and he'd call them 'he' or 'she' as in, 'he's going to have quite a few blossoms in a couple days," or, 'she's growing well but she's not going to flower this year.'
I miss him. With every breath I take. But "and now I'm left without, but you're here within."


  1. Hi Jodi, we would like to send you information about the 2016 Native Plant Sale at Acadia. Would you please let us know a current email address to use? You can email us at acadianforestfriends@gmail.com

  2. Porange, I like it! I have a feeling that I'll start using that color myself, because I recognize several of my own flowers in your post.


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