Saturday, May 3, 2008

Passion in the Beds - Unleash the Red!

Need another dose of color theory as planting season progresses? How about playing around with RED! Hot, energetic, bloody, angry, sinful, passionate RED! Like a piece of raw meat thrown into the garden, I watch the energy amp up.

Many of my students and clients get a little nervous when I bring up this touchy subject.

“I don’t like red. It’s too intense. I read somewhere that it could make my kids disobedient,” says the timid gardener.

“Huh? What have you been reading in the check-out line? Really, it’s good for you. It warms things up and creates a little emotionally punch,” says the daring designer.

“What if it scares my neighbors?” she asked, plaintively.

“Okay, let’s compromise. We’ll start with a splotch of red, but we’ll bring in some tints and shades to downplay it a bit.

“Tints and shades!?! Why didn’t you say so. Boogie down witcha bad ole red!,” shouts my now-emboldened client!

Red: Add white and it’s “Hello Kitty” time. Pink, like little girls’ jammies and Easter hats. How can THAT do any harm? How about we darken it with a bit of black and take the palette toward burgundy? Seems logical – Burgundy, France, is known for its wine, wine is served at garden parties, garden parties are fun, so let’s have some fun.

Now we’ve got an array of the primary hue, the tint and the shade. Let’s see how it looks when we throw ‘em together.

The maroon bougainvillea in the back is visible from a block away. Framed in the foreground by two spectacular, intertwined varieties of roses (one is variegated from maroon through light pink and white) and the combination is a study in variations on red.

Just around the block from the bougie/rose composition is a great little object lesson repeated with Pelargoniums. The fading red turns to maroon, with a gradation from red through pink.

The Chinese Saucer Magnolia takes care of itself, gently blending from maroon through pink on the same petal. Makes my job easy.

And this Lantana camara 'Christine' takes us through ranges of pink with a touch of lemon thrown in.

If, for some reason, you want to mix it up a bit more, but still want that connecting thread that makes these colors so easy to work with, how about stepping over one notch on the color wheel to orange? Add the tint to the palette and you’ve got apricot; add the shade and you have rust. Warmth and diversity without too much heat.

A red pelargonium acts as the anchor that moves the composition from red to orange, then off to lighter tints.

It doesn't take much more than a mixed seed packet of nasturtiums to bring a bed to life. Warm colors and their close relatives.

Hat's off to lantana again for taking care of the blend all in one plant. Use this shrub as the foundation of a warm color scheme and we can venture out into yellows and back to reds effortlessly.

Gotta go. Hope this fills in some gaps for readers.

[Red grid public domain image from Wikipedia]


Wicked Gardener said...

Red is one of my favorite colors and I have it all over my house, but for some reason, not in the garden. Thanks for the tips.

Hootin Anni said...

Pretty...oh so pretty!!!

My Green Thumb this week is wildflowers.

Ahava Hopps Brooke said...

Great color study! Thanks. That maroon bougie is a show stopper.

Aiyana said...

Beautiful photos. I've always liked pink and red together, as well and yellow, orange, with a tiny amount of red here and there. I think the key to get this to work is the hue of each of the colors. Happy GTS,

Laura said...

The pink Lantana's beautiful. I had some (orange/red variety) in my garden the year before last. While I love the flowers the whole season long, the smell when the petals were crushed, or when I did my fall clean up were awful. I swore I'd never plant it again. However the colours in that picture are certinally swaying me :)

Yolanda Elizabet Heuzen said...

I like red in the garden; my strawberries are red, and so are the peppers and tomatoes. Not so keen on red for flowers, we have too many grey skies here and the red gets really too much in your face then and so does orange.

That combi of pink and red pelargoniums is making my eyes water. Pink and maroon or burgundy yes! Pink and bright red? A world of no!

Monica the Garden Faerie said...

I always tend to think I don't like red or pink flowers, but then can name dozens of red and pink flowers I love, so... I'm wrong! The first red grid is a bit, um, like the color equivalent of an eye test! ;-) I love the red-orange pairings!
~ Monica

Anonymous said...

Pink, red, burgundy--yes, yes, and yes! I have a lot of pinks in the front garden and reds in the back. Haven't mixed them together too much though. I love hot red, dark purple, and lime green together. And silver. And... the list goes on. Thanks for a pro-red garden post.

@JeanAnnVK said...

I love red! I have a bed that is in full sun and gets reflective heat from the concrete it I have reds and oranges and hot yellows...I have it in my other beds as well, but this one really highlights the beauty of it.

@JeanAnnVK said...

Pazzo was actually the first place I ate when I arrived in is in the Hotel Vintage Plaza, I believe. I had a wonderful ragu there... I will have to get back for the beet, that sounds like the holy grail!

Ewa said...

red under our sky is too punchy, but, yes, combined with pale pink and burgundy, could make a real beauty. I just thought of making such pelargonium combination.. let me think :)