Three cheers to Rebecca of In the Garden for coming up with a great way to beat the winter blues: a “rainbow challenge.” Her suggestion was for us to post pictures of flowers in all colors of the rainbow in one post. I’m taking a slightly different angle: a series of posts, each focusing on one color. I’ve been thinking about a red post for a while, so it seemed like the perfect place to start. Here are some of my favorite images, starting with an early October shot from my front garden.
For traffic-stopping red, you simply can’t beat ‘China Town’ celosia. A little of this goes a long way!
Poinsettias can be a welcome source of color during the winter months. I’m not crazy about them in general, but something about ‘Winter Rose Red’ caught my eye this year. The form’s a little…um…poofy, but well, the vivid color against the extra-dark foliage sure is nice.
For summer and fall reds, zinnias are fantastic. Above is a red Zinnia elegans from the “Hot Crayon Colors” collection from Renee’s Garden.
The blooms of Zinnia tenuifolia, which is usually available under the name ‘Red Spider’, are more orangey red when new, turning brick red as they age.
Castor beans (Ricinus communis), such as ‘Carmencita Red’ (above), are another of my favorite annuals for good reds, especially from the seedpods.
And then there are the salvias, of course, such as the Texas or hummingbird sage (Salvia coccinea ‘Lady in Red’) above…
…’Golden Delicious’ pineapple sage (S. elegans)…
…and the variegated form of scarlet sage known as ‘Dancing Flames’, mingling above with Alternanthera ‘Purple Knight’.
For slightly more subdued reds, there’s the tuberous begonia ‘Switzerland’…
…the red-flowered and chartreuse-leaved ‘Tip Top Mahogany’ nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus)…
…‘Black Prince’ snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus)…
…and ‘Hopi Red Dye’ amaranth (Amaranthus), paired above with Joe-Pye weed (Eupatorium pupureum).
For bright spots of color, there’s ‘Strawberry Fields’ globe amaranth (Gomphrena haageana), here with Pseuderanthemum atropurpureum ‘Rubrum’ and ‘Merlot’ lettuce.
The individual blooms of tassel flower (Emilia javanica) are actually quite small, but they pack quite a punch color-wise.
When it comes to crocosmias, I love the height, arching sprays, and rich red of ‘Lucifer’, but the much shorter and more orangey red ‘Emberglow’ is cute too.
Two months later, ‘Emberglow’ is evident only as low, grassy foliage, but blood grass (Imperata cylindrica ‘Red Baron’) just keeps getting better, and ‘Bishop of Llandaff’ dahlia is full of flowers as the temperatures cool off a bit.
Among some great perennial reds are ‘Red Dragon’ geum…
…‘Nona’s Garnet Spider’ daylily (Hemerocallis)…
…‘Jacob Cline’ bee balm (Monarda)…
…and of course, cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis).
‘Big Red Judy’ coleus (Solenostemon) is a winner for really red foliage…
…and so is blood grass (Imperata cylindrica ‘Red Baron’), especially in autumn. Above, it’s with ‘Red Dragon’ fleeceflower (Persicaria microcephala); below, it’s with ‘Big Ears’ lamb’s ears (Stachys byzantina).
A few more shots of great fall reds in foliage include:
Virginia sweetspire (Itea virginica)…
A lost-label Japanese maple (Acer palmatum)…
And ‘Bailey’s Compact’ viburnum, shown against Acer triflorum above.
By definition, red-twig dogwoods (Cornus sericea) have red stems, but they’re not all created equal.
‘Cardinal’ is one of the best: a glowing winter red even when encased in ice.
For summer color, chards (these are from the ‘Bright Lights’ mix) are superb.
To finish up – yes, finally – a bunch of seeds and berries:
Hemp dogbane (Apocynum cannabinum) out in the meadow.
‘Lucifer’ crocosmia seeds.
The summer seedpods of Diabolo ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Monlo’).
The edible but very seedy fruits of strawberry blite (Chenopodium capitatum).
‘Black Pearl’ pepper (Capsicum annuum) ripe fruits, with ‘Australian Yellow’ lettuce.
‘Winter Red’ winterberry (Ilex verticillata).
Tea viburnum (Viburnum setigerum).
And last, the berries of ‘Red Wing’ viburnum (V. trilobum). Huh, we ended back with a frosty winter scene. Well, the warmth was nice while it lasted.
Text and photos ©Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield