Some Like It Hot

I have been a fan of orange, and every related warm, hot and striking color, my entire gardening life.  A client who once remarked that orange was a color that symbolized hysteria-I am sorry to say she had no appreciation for for sheer exuberance.  Some of us-including me-like it hot.  As I have said before, I love annual gardening for the fact that I can plant differently every season.  

This combination of plants-Rob’s own.  Stellar-the syncopated beat of his color combination.  The idea of rhythm is very difficult to discuss in words-but so easy to photograph.  Hot and cool colors in graphic contrast will get attention from a long ways away.   Striking color contrast is but the first sentence from a  paragraph about what constitutes hot.  Looking to be blazing?  Think about orange, orange and hot pink and lime.  Think about any color, intensely represented.  

Hot pink and white zinnias, pink cotton candy petunias-these three plants can get a party going on.  I have been a fan of zinnias since was a kid. There is something boldly charming about their big flat faces.   Cannas, dahlias, bananas and other tropicals-all of these can bring loads of color to a planting.

Solenia orange begonia is a great performer.  Properly watered, they will bloom heavily the entire summer.  They have succulent juicy stems that will rot if they are overwatered.  If you put your finger in the dirt-and the dirt sticks, wait to water.  Lime green is represented in the pots, creeping jenny, and the irisine in the right hand pot.  Lime and orange is a combination guaranteed to wake you up.

Gartenmeister fuchsia grows vigorously enough to make a great show as a flowering topiary.  As it is a lax grower, it needs secure staking from the beginning.  The dark red threadleaf amaranthus and orange New Guineas finish the arrangement.  Though that orange dominates, the overall impact is as much about form as color. 

Bicolor angelonia and Persian Qeen geraniums make a lively a color statement.  I plant lots of pots for the shop-when I see a combination grow up to make a beautiful bouquest, I try to make a note of it.  These two plants just seem made for each other.  The angelonia loosens up that stiffly growing geranium.  The geranium provides mass and substance to that wispy growing angelonia.  Hot pink, purple and lime-delicious.  That little bit of white in the angelonia keeps all the other color reading loud and clear.

A gardener has no end of plants to choose from.  How to organize what to choose?  I recommend as a first step-ignore what is in bloom May 10.  Too many people restrict their exposure to plants by insisting on “color” right off the bat.  There are other flowering plants in this world besides impatiens, wax leaf begonias, and red geraniums.  Big growing annuals do not make any kind of show in mid May; it takes time for them to mature.  Increasingly I see growers producing big plants in large tubs early.  I buy them when I am planting a client late-the tubs enable me to catch them up. But the pleasure of large growing plants has much to do with the patience to grow them on. Though it is June 3, I have no idea what I will do in my own pots. Maybe some hot color-maybe not.   I have time to dream it up-an entire season is still out there,  ahead of me. 

 No small part of the fun of gardening is planning, putting it all together, and  watching it grow up to be something.