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Red in the Garden

A Gardening Life – May 19th

When it comes to choosing colors for the garden it’s surprising how many people tell me, “I like any color but red.” Maybe the slogan from the Cold War era, better dead than red,  is so deeply embedded that it’s turned millions away from appreciating this hue. I have come to believe, however, that even small touches of red make a garden come alive. Since most of our landscapes are filled with green foliage, and red and green are complementary colors, it’s no wonder that bright scarlet flowers, foliage or objects add pizazz.

Do you have a shade garden with more leaves than flowers? A chair or bench painted red will add instant energy and style. Is your perennial garden filled with pinks, blues, and purples? Wake it up with some red coleus or red-flowering annuals. Some of my favorites include ‘Scarlett Magic’ tassel flower (Emilia javanica), Profusion Zinnias, ‘Disco Red’ marigolds, or red Salvia.  If you want perennials, cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis) does well, even in part shade, and it’s brilliant flower will be an exclamation point in the landscape.

Adding red to the garden is like discovering a new spice for your food…once you learn what difference a small dash can make, you will wonder how you every cooked without this exciting flavor.

If you don't want to plant red flowering selections, try some red furniture. You can always repaint it blue or green....


8 comments to Red in the Garden

  • HI C.L: like the red, have a couple of wooden chairs that are plain and ugly. Think I will paint them red.

    Have a great evening,

  • That’s the spirit, John!

  • Hi CL,

    Interesting as I have had many clients over the years who like red. One of my favorite questions when talking to new clients is “Are you a red or pink geranium person”? Tells me so much about their preferences_soft or hot. Many men love red BTW.

  • Deborah

    I am a red fan, for sure!! Got to have my shades of red here n’ there to also attract
    my hummer’s!

  • Laura Eisener

    Also, it depends a bit on what time of year you are talking about, and what part of the plant.. if you ask in the fall, people LOVE red foliage on blueberries and red maples. In the spring, some reds don’t go with all the pinks that are in flower now (but some do, of course, it’s just that most people aren’t sure which ones will look good so they think they dislike them all.

  • Good point, Laura. It’s that way with yellow in the spring too…the color that many find jarring at other times of year is loved when on an early blooming forsythia.

  • Lea

    I don’t have red garden furniture, but I do have Sweet William, Dianthus, in various shades of red around in the garden. And Fancy Leaf Caladiums in red. Then there are red roses, too!
    Have a great week-end!
    Lea’s Menagerie

  • Lea,
    Red flowers and foliage are such a garden pick-me-up.