May 13, 2011

Siren Red

When I make my lists of plants to order each spring, there are always way too many red flowers and I always have to edit them out.  It happens every year.  I can not help myself.  And show me those red geraniums (pelargoniums) at Home Depot, and they're in my cart.  I put them in pots all over the patio.  I do.  Shoot me.

Some red in the garden, yes.  An accent --- of course.  A pop here and there.  But red is such a primary color, so alarming, that it should be used as an accent, not as the backbone of your entire planting scheme.  I'm not talking about maroon or ruby or a rich wine color.  Primary red should be used in moderation, but I can't seem to do it.
I only grow one peony and it is Paeonia 'Blaze'

Potted petunias.  Red ones.  I won't show you the potted pelargoniums

If a plant is red and called 'Lucifer' it will be in my garden, like these Crocosmias

If it evokes cardinals, as in Lobelia cardinalis, it's in my garden


I only grow one dahlia and it's a dwarf red one

And when I planted a groundcover carpet rose, it was . . .  red

Salvia 'Lady in Red', still vivid late in the season even as the foliage wanes

When I planted nasturtiums, they were the tropical red 'Empress of India', not the typical orange and yellow ones.  When I planted dianthus, I put in a deep scarlet one.  It goes on and on.
'Empress of India' nasturtiums

Each year, as I pore over the catalogs and think about what I want to add, a list of red plants materializes.  Another dianthus this year, this one called 'Heart Attack', gotta have that.  I want a clematis, and of course I'm drawn to red 'Gravetye Beauty' or scarlet 'Rebecca'.  I need annuals: Gomphrena 'Strawberry Fields', and a coleus called 'Redhead' .... no, hold on, now I'm into my overindulgence of red foliage.

But wait, there's more ... red stems too!  Not just foliage and flowers. (Cornus sericea 'Isanti')

Red.  Passion, Romance, Satan.  Drop dead evening gowns.

I don't yet have a hot red evening frock.  I probably do have too much red in my garden.  I must go back to the catalogs, back to the garden centers, and find some nice white daisies, or maybe some pink echinaceas, and a good strong yellow, a rudbeckia perhaps.  But the reds . . . . how those sirens call to me.

Check out Garden Walk Garden Talk's  article on red here in Niagara Falls Garden Magazine.  Or visit Three Dogs in a Garden to see her Color Essay on Red.

Both of these will excite your passions and you'll be seeing red (in a good way!  A good way!) in your dreams. 


  1. I love the color red but as you have made me think about it I have very little in the garden. Hmmmmm Maybe I will have to work on that.

  2. I am one that really does not prefer red, yet I seem to use is in various shades in the gardens, home interior design, and even to make a cooked dish lovely, but I never wear it although it would go good with my skin and eyes. Go figure.

  3. If you like red, use it. From the photos you share of your gardens you use red well. Indulge away.

  4. I have the same problem with purple but red is starting to get a lot of attention in my garden too.

  5. Red is wonderful! I am envious of the gorgeous peony. I just purchased red martagon lilies, even though I'm not fond of lilies, but the colour! oh la la.

  6. The 'Lucifer' crocosmias is gorgeous! It looks great in association with its blue neighbor.

  7. We are opposites on this point ~ normally I avoid red like the plague in the garden, unless it's on the blue side. And of course there are always exceptions. Cardinal Flower is such a very pure, even cool red to me and I love it. True red roses too.


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