Mad For Orange

Though the annual planting at the shop this year was inspired by a client’s planting of Orange Punch cannas, I owe part of my infatuation with orange this year to Margaret Roach.  She published a picture of this potunia “Papaya” on her blog- ; it did indeed look delicious. I knew if anyone was growing it, Telly’s would.  George sent me up to his growing farm for 8 cases of 4″ plants.  This petunia is planted along the shop driveway, along with Freckles coleus, lime licorice, and red violet petunias.    

An all out, all orange annual garden seemed like it might be difficult to achieve, since the color orange in plants varies so widely.  One small strip of Sonic orange New Guinea impatiens at home is as loud as a brass band.  I decided a mix of all of those colors that look great with orange would be better.  Yellow, lime, and red violet seemed like a more visually interesting way to go.  The rain has been tough on the petunias.  I quickly realized that the petunia “Terra Cotta” is not the performer that other petunias are.  One of the best reasons to have a mix of plants-the weather.  One never knows what a season will be, but for sure some things will do poorly, and others will do well.    

The red pigment in this banana leaf reads orangy-brown to my eye.  I have never grown “Siam Ruby” before.  I have it placed at a sunny corner of the shop building; this is a very sunny and very hot spot.  There is plenty of room, should it grow large and tall.      

I have underplanted it with that Sonic Scarlet New Guinea impatiens, which is as orange as orange can be.  I think they will appreciate a little shade from the banana leaves-we’ll see.

This rhizomatous begonia is called “Madame Queen”; it is perfectly named.  The large crested olive green leaves are a fiery red/orange on the obverse.  I underplanted it with Ruby Red spikemoss, or clubmoss- a red foliaged selaginella.  The combination is one of my favorites in my series of containers featuring orange. 

The Bullseye series of seed geraniums is a great performer for containers and window boxes-I have better luck growing these than I do with zonal geraniums.  The tricolor geranium right next to it is just as easy to grow.  Sometimes known as Skies of Italy, the variegated leaves of green, orange brown and cream yellow look great with lots of other plants.  The orange flowers are not so showy, but they are obligingly bright orange.   

I have had plenty to say about the Solenia series of begonias.  They are tolerant of lots of sun, and relatively easy to care for.  I just make sure to be sure they are in need of water before I add some.  When I do kill them, it is almost always from rot.  Their thick juicy stems are very watery-I wait until the soil seems tgo be just about dried out before I water.      

My annual garden is well on its way-a little dry warm and sunny weather will help bring on the orange.  The freshly trimmed boxwood and arborvitae provide some cooly elegant structure for what will soon become riotous color.  This is a substantial change from last year’s green and white scheme-this I like.  For those of you who would rather visit an Orange Punch garden than have one, we will be ready for company in short order.

Orange Punch

The idea for the 2011 annual gardens at the shop started with these pots at a client’s house.  I did not plant these-I was there consulting on another matter entirely.  I was so struck by how beautiful the orange cannas were-the flowers reminded me much of a clivia. She told me she got them from Telly’s Greenhouse; I called George straight away this spring to see if he planned to carry them again.  When he told me he had hundreds of them for sale, I responded in kind.  I planted lots them in the roof boxes, and in all 6 of the big concrete pots out front.   

It is a strikingly beautiful flower. Lushly tropical in appearance, it looks even better against a blue sky.  The large, juicy looking blue green leaves are just as attractive as the flowers.  I could feel a scheme coming on. 

Margaret Roach egged me on; she posted about a new Potunia variety called Papaya.  I called George again-was he growing this potunia?  The color is every bit as unusual and luscious as Margaret promised. They seem to be a decent growers-this is a big plus in an annual plant. I planted it in the ground with neon petunias.  I am a fan of orange and carmine together.  The color orange in annual plants is highly variable. There are those yellow toned carrot oranges-as in Magellan zinnias and Orange Punch cannas.  There is that brilliant medium orange on steriods, as in Sonic Scarlet New Guinea impatiens.  There are those blue tinged oranges, as in Caliente ornage geraniums, and these Papaya potunias. 

Surprisingly, all of the oranges do not look so swell together.  I needed to mix some other colors to create a sense of visual community.  The very dark carmine potunias and a little lemon yellow from yellow supertunias, vanilla butterfly marguerites and trailing lantana gives this container a happy family look.  I could feel a party coming on.

The Sonic series of New Guinea impatiens deliver a jolt of orange like no other plant I know of.  Given enough sun and plenty of water, they perform beautifully.I was warming up to the idea of a wide mix of colors in celebration of the color orange in the windowboxes and beds.       

The boxes have lime nicotiana (a staple green in my gardening diet), misty lilac wave petunias, orange dahlias, orange geraniums, Butterfly marguerites, and neon petunias.  To come, some dark purple trailing verbena, and some lavender star verbena.  The corner pot has those Sonic scarlet New Guineas in it-I have not quite figured out what else should go with it.

The Solenia series of begonias are my favorites-they are the most forgiving of  of any large flowered begonia. They also tolerate a good bit of sun.  The toothy olive green coleus with the dark red violet stems?  I do not have a name, but I really like the look. 

On the roof, I planted my beloved Elegant Feather grass-it is a beautiful plant from a distance, and it breaks the wind that whip around up there.  The cannas are small, but they will beef up quickly; it is always hot up there.  Caliente geraniums are a great performer in difficult situations, and they flower continually without any coaxing.  The trailing vinca maculatum are plants from last summer that I wintered over in hanging baskets-I hope they will drape way down the front wall.   

Perhaps the most exotic looking plant in my summer orange repertoire is a coleus called Rainbow Festive Dance.  Bordines grows this plant, and they have great 4″ pots of it right now.  My photograph does not really do it justice; it is olive , orange, carmine and parrot green-on every leaf.  I cannot wait to see these plants grow large.

The bed inside the boxwood is planted with Dazzler Blush impatiens (it has a distinctive orange and carmine eye) Super Elfin Blue Pearl, and solid orange impatiens.  I am hoping it will look like confetti sprinkled thickly on the ground.  A twenty minute soak with my fountain sprinklers, and the bed is thoroughly wet.  Our 4th annual garden tour to benefit the Greening of Detroit is scheduled for Sunday July 17th.  We host a party afterwards-we’ll be ready for company.