Thank heavens for red and yellow; I would not want to do without orange in my garden. This picture of an orange dahlia tells the entire story of what happens when red, in this case a very blue or carmine red, gets mixed with yellow. Fireworks. Daylilies are a staple source of orange in a perennial garden. If a daylily is not yellow, there is orange lurking in the petals in one form or another. Even a drift of the subdued daylily Ruffled Apricot can warm the eye from a distance. Orange is visually effective in even the smallest doses; is it not interesting how easy it is to spot the one lone blooming butterfly weed in the entire field? Even those who are not big fans of orange in theory can fall for an oriental poppy that color. Poppies look like they ought to be orange.
Orange exists in a garden in other forms besides flowers. Interior arborvitae needles turn as rusty orange as this old fountain before they are shed. Iron garden ornament, and terra cotta pots are an excellent source of orange in the garden. I have had many people tell me their favorite season in Michigan is the fall-and I hear no grumbling about all the orange. What group of plants have you ever seen planted in a terra cotta pot that looked bad as a result of that orange pot? Orange in big brilliant doses is not for the faint of heart, but a little orange zest never hurt any garden.
The trim on my house is painted turtle green. I suppose I chose the color as much for the name as the color. Olive drab would have been an equally believable name; this planting of solenia orange begonias in a dusty peachy orange Italian terra cotta pot makes that olive paint color come to life. The variegated licorice makes reference to the bluish green of the begonia foliage; the lime creeping jenny underneath keeps everything up top cooking.
I did all of my summer flowers in some combination of orange, and carmine, or red-violet. It did scare the heck out of me once I got everything planted. I was worried to would be more excitement than I really wanted. No doubt these warm colors looked good with my yellow/orange stone, and the sandy yellow brick on my house-not to mention the purple/brown brick of my drive. The one year I planted all white flowers just didn’t work. Though Howard’s coat color is formally known as red brindle, he is a most handsome orange and white.
Though this Sonic orange New Guinea impatiens flower might make your eyes hurt, I find it easier to use in a garden than a blue red. I have a client that has been planting orange and white in her garden for many years. What many thought was eccentric fifteen years ago looked very fashionable and sophisticated this year. Funny, that.
Pink and orange together is such a lively and happy combination. Both Emilio Pucci and Lily Pulitzer based fashion empires on fearlessly friendly color combinations like this. If I only have the chance to make one point about color, it would be this. In isolation, a color may not appeal to you. But the real impact of color is about color relationships. What colors do for each other is more important than any color itself. It never hurts to take some of what colors you have when shopping for plants. Whatever your ideas might be about color, let your eyes make the decisions.
A little orange in the garden is a great idea.