Posted on 17 Comments

Seeing Red

Front borders in red Oct 4 08

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.

Celosia Chinatown Aug 25 08

For traffic-stopping red, you simply can’t beat ‘China Town’ celosia. A little of this goes a long way!

Poinsettia Winter Rose Red Nov 23 09

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.

Zinnia Aug 9 09

For summer and fall reds, zinnias are fantastic. Above is a red Zinnia elegans from the “Hot Crayon Colors” collection from Renee’s Garden.

Zinnia Red Spider Aug 26 09

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.

Ricinus communis Carmencita Red Aug 24 09

Castor beans (Ricinus communis), such as ‘Carmencita Red’ (above), are another of my favorite annuals for good reds, especially from the seedpods.

Salvia coccinea Lady in Red Beet Beet Bulls Blood July 19 07

And then there are the salvias, of course, such as the Texas or hummingbird sage (Salvia coccinea ‘Lady in Red’) above…

Salvia elegans Golden Delicious Oct 19 07

…’Golden Delicious’ pineapple sage (S. elegans)…

Salvia splendens Dancing Flames Oct 4 08

…and the variegated form of scarlet sage known as ‘Dancing Flames’, mingling above with Alternanthera ‘Purple Knight’.

Begonia Switzerland mid Sept 06

For slightly more subdued reds, there’s the tuberous begonia ‘Switzerland’…

Imperata Red Baron Tropaeolum Nasturtium Tip Top Mahogany Oct 4 08

…the red-flowered and chartreuse-leaved ‘Tip Top Mahogany’ nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus)…

Antirrhinum Black Prince July 4 07

…‘Black Prince’ snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus)…

Amaranthus Hopi Red Dye Aug 8 09

…and ‘Hopi Red Dye’ amaranth (Amaranthus), paired above with Joe-Pye weed (Eupatorium pupureum).

Gomphrena Strawberry Fields Pseuderanthemum Atropurpureum Lettuce Merlot Aug 11 08

For bright spots of color, there’s ‘Strawberry Fields’ globe amaranth (Gomphrena haageana), here with Pseuderanthemum atropurpureum ‘Rubrum’ and ‘Merlot’ lettuce.

Emilia javanica July 7 08

The individual blooms of tassel flower (Emilia javanica) are actually quite small, but they pack quite a punch color-wise.

Crocosmia Emberglow Imperata Red Baron Aug 12 08

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.

Dahlia Bishop of Llandaff Imperata Red Baron Oct 8 08

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.

Geum Red Dragon May 28 08

Among some great perennial reds are ‘Red Dragon’ geum…

Hemerocallis Nonas Garnet Spider daylily midJuly 05

…‘Nona’s Garnet Spider’ daylily (Hemerocallis)…

Monarda Jacob Cline Cotinus Grace June 30 08

…‘Jacob Cline’ bee balm (Monarda)…

Lobelia cardinalis Aug 24 09

…and of course, cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis).

Coleus Big Red Judy Sept 2 09

‘Big Red Judy’ coleus (Solenostemon) is a winner for really red foliage…

Imperata Red Baron Persicaria Red Dragon Oct 18 09

…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).

Stachys Big Ears Imperata cylindrica koenigii rubra Red Baron Oct 29 07

A few more shots of great fall reds in foliage include:

Itea virginica fall color Oct 12 09

Virginia sweetspire (Itea virginica)

Acer palmatum from Windrose fall color Oct 25 09

A lost-label Japanese maple (Acer palmatum)…

Viburnum Baileys Compact=

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.

Cornus Cardinal sport Stipa tenuissima on ice Dec 16 07

‘Cardinal’ is one of the best: a glowing winter red even when encased in ice.

Chard Bright Lights Oct 4 08

For summer color, chards (these are from the ‘Bright Lights’ mix) are superb.

To finish up – yes, finally – a bunch of seeds and berries:

Apocynum cannabinum seedpods Sept 21 07

Hemp dogbane (Apocynum cannabinum) out in the meadow.

Crocosmia Lucifer seeds Oct 9 08

‘Lucifer’ crocosmia seeds.

Physocarpus opulifolius Monlo Diabolo June 14 08

The summer seedpods of Diabolo ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Monlo’).

Chenopodium capitatum Aug 25 08

The edible but very seedy fruits of strawberry blite (Chenopodium capitatum).

Capsicum Black Pearl Letuce Australian Yellow Sept 23 05

‘Black Pearl’ pepper (Capsicum annuum) ripe fruits, with ‘Australian Yellow’ lettuce.

Ilex verticillata Winter Red berries Nov 10 08

‘Winter Red’ winterberry (Ilex verticillata).

Viburnum setigerum berries Sept 29 07

Tea viburnum (Viburnum setigerum).

Viburnum trilobum Red Wing Nov 7 09

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

Posted on 17 Comments

17 thoughts on “Seeing Red

  1. Oooh… I’m so glad that you’re doing a post for every color! (And I can’t wait to see the next one–orange is my favorite.)

    Seriously, it just amazes me that you pack all of this amazing color into one garden, Nan. It seems as though it would take a whole streetful of gardens to contain this much interest. :)

    I’m looking forward to orange too, Kim. There won’t be nearly as many photos, though; I have a lot more reds than I thought. They’re my favorite part of the front garden.

  2. Nan, all I can say is “WOW” – what a variety you have in your garden, and thank you so much for always sharing both images and useful information.

    Hi Lene! I’m so grateful to Rebecca for giving us a great excuse to rifle through our photo archives and roll around in some much-needed color.

  3. My goodness Nan. You have taken red to a new level. Actually several different levels. Marvelous way to tell myself that it is really warm outside. Not.

    Oh, Lisa, it is SO not warm it’s not funny. Thank goodness for our virtual gardens, huh?

  4. OH, Nan! Leave it to you to need one post for each color!!! I could have predicted it, though. You have a Garden of Inspiration for Anyone and Everyone. :-)

    Heh – you mean that you knew I couldn’t show enough self-restraint to follow the rules! I did cut this one down, but I should have put a “long post!” warning at the top.

  5. So many lovely shades of red! I love the red zinnias. They make me long for summer!

    Me too, Robin! I just splurged on a bunch of zinnia seeds in anticipation of lots of summer bouquets.

  6. Your reds are so cheering while we are surrounded by ice and snow here in TN, Nan. Lots of ideas of combos, as always. The blood grass and nasturtium will be copied blantantly here. Glad to see you have the golden leaf pineapple sage too, we took cuttings since it is so difficult to find here.

    I wish I could overwinter the sage here, but my house is too cold, I guess. Fortunately, I have pretty good luck finding it up here.

    The nasturtium, however, IS becoming a challenge. I used to be able to get it from Territorial Seed, but they dropped it this year. I found it from a few small places through Google. It’s definitely worth hunting for!

  7. Oh Nan,
    You continue to feed my plant lust. The Red Ruby coleus, ‘China Town’ celosia and cardinal flower have been added to my “To Buy” plant list. Thank you (I think).

    You’re welcome, Marie! Always glad to enable a fellow gardener.

  8. Mmm, such a treat for the eyes! Although I love all the beautiful red plants you showed, I think what I like best is the way you’ve combined them with other plants. You really are a master at that!

    I appreciate your comment, Jean. Finding ways to show these beauties off to best advantage is one of my favorite parts of gardening!

  9. These are perfect examples of amazing combinations that inspire gardeners, and for every season!

    Sidebar – The use of red can be so intimidating because it is easy to end up with a red that is too pink to work with other reds; or a blue”that reads as purple; or a yellow that is gold. Which gets me to my point… I wish all plant sellers would adopt a standard to describe colors, such as the RHS color codes.


    You’re so right about the pink-reds versus the blue-reds; there can be a big difference in the right companions. I’ve tried using the RHS system, but I find that the color chip matches can vary a good bit depending on the light and the age of the flower. Plus, the set costs a lot (not sure what it is now, but I remember considering it a big expense 20 years ago). Still, you make a good point about needing a standard.

  10. What a fun challenge, I am am also going to take it up. What a huge variety of reds you have in your garden (that’s also my favorite flower and foliage/berry color). When I was a child tassel flower grew as a weed (in red and purple) I have always liked it, thanks for the ID, for now I can purchase the seeds.

    That’s great about the tassel flower. I’ve never seen it in purple – just orange and red; I’ll have to check it out.

  11. All that red was just the thing to warm up this cold, January day. Red hot!

    Anything warming is definitely in order these days. I imagine you’re even colder than we are. Hurry, spring!

  12. Red is such an eye-catching color in the garden, and you’ve got it in all shades, shapes and sizes! I really enjoy seeing the different hues, from the pinky ones to orangish ones to straight-up fire engine red.

    Thanks for stopping by, Rose. I’m not surprised to hear that you’re fond of the reds!

  13. I have to bookmark this series! I am already taking notes and have ideas to add more red to the garden~Thanks, gail

    Isn’t this a fun idea? Don’t forget to check out the others too on Rebecca’s site. I need to get back there and leave my own link.

  14. Be still my heart – I have to have that ‘Tip Top Mahogany’ Nasturtium! And ‘Black Prince’ Snapdragons! And Capsicum ‘Black Pearl’!

    More plants! More plants!

    One other feature you’ll like about the ‘Black Prince’ snapdragon: it has dark foliage early and later in the season (green during the heat of summer).

  15. Ciao Nan! Non vedo l’ora di ammirare anche i post con gli altri colori, mamma mia che meraviglia!!
    Leggere i tuoi post mi lascia sempre a bocca aperta, sono molto istruttivi, soprattutto per l’importanza che dai ai fogliami.
    Per stare in tema col colore rosso, posso permettermi di suggerire dei Penstemon spontanei che ho scovato stamattina? (magari li conosci già..)
    Penstemon eatonii, Penstemon cardinalis, Penstemon rostriflorus, Penstemon subulatus.

    Hello, Josie. It’s great to meet another member of the Furighedda Gardening team! You are right that the penstemons offer some truly gorgeous reds; I just wish I could grow them here. (Well, I can grow P. barbatus, but its red isn’t as vibrant as some of the others you mentioned.)

    Happy gardening!

  16. Wonderful! Cheerful! For a display garden of hardy roses at one of our local historic buildings, we need a truly red hardy rose (hardy as in Zone 5b at best). So many roses listed as “red” are actually magenta. We’re looking for Christmas, American flag, stop sign, fire engine RED, not pink on steroids. Any suggestions? And by the way, we need a true red peony as well. Ideas, anyone?

    Hmmm…I get what you’re saying about the RED roses; I’ll have to think about that one. To my eye, Paeonia tenuifolia is a true red, but I could be wrong.

  17. Wow, your post is so impressive. I found my way here via ‘A Caribbean Garden’ and am so very flattered that you took on my meme and added your interpretation of splitting the colours into different posts. Your coleus is gorgeous, and the blood grass and stachys look wonderful together. I also like the red peppers with the dark foliage. So many beautiful and interesting plants, I look forward to your subsequent posts! Would you like me to add your post to my list? I’d be happy to do so. :) Rebecca

    Hi Rebecca! Thanks ever so much for coming up with such a great form of therapy for cabin fever. Yes, I’d be honored to be added to your list. This link will take readers to all posts in the series:

Comments are closed.