I’ve accepted the fact that I’m going to have to sit out the next Bloom Day too, because of the ridiculous amount of snow currently blanketing everything here in southeastern PA. We’ll be lucky if this stuff melts in time for March’s Bloom Day. Well, never mind: It’s a great excuse to roll around in more color in my photo archives. I didn’t expect to find nearly as much orange as I did red for my last post, but I was happily surprised.
I could easily write a whole orange post with only zinnias, or even just with one particular zinnia: ‘Profusion Orange’ – the universe’s gift to gardeners who adore orange flowers. I use loads of it in my front garden: with chartreuse, purple, and bronze sweet potato vines (Ipomoea batatas Sweet Caroline Series) [as in the photo at the top of this post]; around the base of viburnums with ‘Woods Purple’ aster, ‘All Gold’ lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), and Persicaria capitata [above]…
…with Caryopteris x clandonensis ‘Summer Sorbet’ and more ‘All Gold’ lemon balm’ [above]; and with ‘Chocolate Chip’ ajuga, ‘Sweet Caroline Bronze’ sweet potato vine, ‘Maple Sugar’ hibiscus (Hibiscus acetosella), and Rudbeckia fulgida [below].
Narrow-leaf zinnia (Zinnia angustifolia), one of the parents of ‘Profusion Orange’, isn’t quite as richly colored and has a looser, wilder look. I like it, but not as much as ‘Profusion Orange’.
When I need something taller, I go for ‘Aztec Orange’ [above with golden catalpa (Catalpa bignonioides ‘Aurea’), red orach (Atriplex hortensis ‘Rubra’), ‘Rotstrahlbusch’ switch grass (Panicum virgatum), Rudbeckia fulgida, and ironweed (Vernonia)].
I like the strong scent of signet marigold (Tagetes tenuifolia) foliage, and I usually get it from the bright yellow-flowered ‘Lemon Gem’. But sometimes I also grow ‘Starfire’ [above with Persicaria capitata], which includes some rich oranges with the yellows.
One year, I tried the ‘Brightest Brilliant Rainbow’ strain of quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa) from Wild Garden Seeds. This rusty orange one was my favorite of the bunch.
‘Hopi Red Dye’ is my usual amaranth of choice, but sometimes I also grow the orangey ones, such as ‘Orange Giant’ [above with ‘H.R.D.’ and below with ‘H.R.D.’, red orach, orange cosmos (Cosmos sulphureus), and ‘Chim Chiminee’ Gloriosa daisy (Rudbeckia)].
‘Chim Chiminee’ Gloriosa daisies include a mix of colors: some are clear yellow, but many have at least a touch of orange. Above, they’re with ‘Jester’ purple millet (Pennisetum glaucum).
One more orange from among the annuals: ‘Jungle Gold’ impatiens (Impatiens auricoma) [above with a blue browallia].
Now, for the tender perennials: ‘Emily McKenzie’ crocosmia [above with ‘Angelina’ sedum and ‘May Night’ salvia] and a hybrid foxtail lily (Eremurus) [below with red orach and Viburnum opulus ‘Aureum’].
Above is what I’m pretty sure is bulbinella (Bulbine frutescens). It was short (maybe 12 inches here) but sweet.
Dicliptera suberecta [above] was popular around here in the mid-90s, but it’s tricky to find now. I’m always happy to grow it when I can; it’s such a great orange, and the furry gray foliage is nice too.
Shrimp plant (Justicia brandegeana) [above], too, is tender here, and ‘Bright Lights Mix’ cosmos are annuals, but orangey ‘Caramel’ heuchera is dependably perennial (when not eaten by voles).
Arkwright’s campion (Lychnis x arkwrightii) produces some great oranges too. Above is a seedling from a pack of ‘Vesuvius’.
I’ve heard people complain about ‘Fireglow’ euphorbia [above], but it’s been well behaved for me, and the orange is terrific.
Giant rusty foxglove (Digitalis ferruginea ‘Gigantea’) [above] is a very gentle orange, but it still counts. So does ‘Mango Lassi’ geum [below].
‘Arizona Sun’ blanket flower (Gaillardia x grandiflora) [above] could have been in the red group, but it’s orangey too.
On the whole, I haven’t had much luck with the fancy new echinaceas, but I do like Sundown (‘Evan Saul’) [above], especially when the flowers are new and definitely more orange than pink.
Blackberry lily (Belamcanda chinensis) [above] is a great orange for mid- to late summer – usually late July around here. ‘Britt-Marie Crawford’ ligularia (Ligularia dentata) [below with the hips of Rosa achburensis] flowers a few weeks later, around late August.
Sneezeweed (Helenium) is another late-August bloomer [above with Sanguisorba tenuifolia]. And then, of course, there are chrysanthemums. Below is one of my favorites, a lost-label pumpkin-orange mum, with ‘Taurus’ fleeceflower (Persicaria amplexicaulis).
There are some great oranges out in the meadow too, such as the flowers of butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) [above and below].
Milkweeds also contribute orange in other forms, such as milkweed bugs [above] and orange aphids [below].
One more meadow denizen in this color group is sideoats grama (Bouteloua curtipendula), with dangling orange anthers.
A few more orange flowers: ‘Dropmore Scarlet’ honeysuckle (Lonicera x brownii) [above], and ‘Jelena’ witch hazel (Hamamelis x intermedia) [below].
Oranges abound among the fruits, too. Below are the berries of ‘Winter Gold’ winterberry (Ilex verticillata).
The fruits of Queen Anne’s pocket melon [above], also known as plum granny, are a really nice orange (with orangey yellow stripes) when fully ripe. So are ‘One Ball’ zucchinis [shown below with a striped, very ripe ‘Eight Ball’ zucchini and a speckled ‘Carnival’ acorn squash].
One more great orange: the fruits of variegated Jerusalem cherry (Solanum capsicastrum ‘Variegatum’).
Now for some orange foliage, starting with ‘Creme Brulee’ heuchera [below with ‘All Gold’ lemon balm].
Above is ‘Angelina’ sedum showing particularly good winter color. Below is the tender Sedum nussbaumerianum. Its foliage color is not as intense, but it’s definitely orange all season.
Magic Carpet spirea (Spiraea japonica ‘Walbuma’) [below] is distinctly orange in spring; later it’s mostly yellow, but with orange-tinged shoot tips.
‘Smallwood’s Driveway’ coleus (Solenostemon) [above] has many colors in its leaves, but from a distance, it mostly reads as orange. ‘Sedona’ [below with Euphorbia ‘Flame’] is sometimes a pinkish to brick red – especially at the shoot tips, and when the weather is cool – but can also be distinctly orange.
Not all ‘Bright Lights’ chards produce these fabulous orange stems, but if I’m lucky, I can get one or two a year like the one above.
And then there are orange spines, such as those of Solanum pyrancanthum [below].
There are even orange roots, like these lovely ‘Meridia’ carrots [below]. Some fresh-picked carrots sure would be a treat right now.
But for the time being, I think this is the only orange I’m going to be spending any quality time with.
Keep digging, Mom – it’s really deep out here!
Text and photos ©Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield