Monochromatic Gardens: Creating an Orange-Themed Garden

Orange flower garden by happysoul81

Anne in Chicago had once asked me what plants she should use in her front yard. Because I knew that orange was her favorite color, I gave her a list of orange flowers that bloom throughout the season that she might like to try. I thought it would  be exciting for her to create an orange garden.

I suggested orange Hemerocallis fulva aka Day lilies, Orange Asiatic lilies and other lilies like the Tiger lilies,  geums, orange zinnias and marigolds, orange Lucifer crocosmia, even orange roses like Livin’Easy, one of my favorites, or Arizona – there are a lot of orange flower choices.

Anne’s husband isn’t that fond of a one color theme for his flower beds so my list was never used.  I am disappointed that it was never used. I think an orange garden would have been Hot, Hot, Hot. I wish I had enough sun on my property to have an orange themed garden.

White Garden, Sissinghurst by pillager

People have designed monochromatic or one colored gardens. I visited a garden in Holland where the owner had only yellow flowers in it. A one color themed garden that has a worldwide reputation is in England and is called Sissinghurst. See here.   You must understand that the Sissinghurst garden is NOT an orange garden.  It has only white flowers. But Vita Sackville-West may have been the first person to create a one colored garden. And the Sissinghurst white garden is lovely.

But I have never seen an all orange garden. Perhaps TheGardenLady readers know of one. Of course, if one doesn’t like just orange one can add other colors to the orange garden palette, colors like yellow, red, green and even white would still be hot.

Back to the orange theme. Besides the orange plants that TheGardenLady had recommended that were mostly nonnative, there have recently been new hybrids of a plant that is native to the prairies; so they would be great in the heat of Chicago as well as the rest of the country that is suffering from this heat wave. In fact one of the two main breeders in the United States is the Chicago Botanic Garden, the other is Saul Brothers of Atlanta, Georgia so you know these plants will tolerate heat – up to Zone 9.

These plants thrive in harsh climates and once established they are drought tolerant.  However they will grow in cooler Zones 3 or 4 .They are easy maintenance plants, disease resistant, deer don’t like them, they have a very long summer bloom time – sometimes more than 3 months – with big showy flowers that can  be up to 5 inches – and some say they have  some fragrance. These plants like  well-drained, preferably dry soils in raised beds with average to low nutrients. (TheGardenLady’s are not growing in raised beds.)  Butterflies, bees and hummingbirds love them.
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Echinacea – The Purple Coneflower

Echinacea Pixie Meadowbrite by fdr2164
Echinacea Pixie Meadowbrite by fdr2164

Every year one of the best plant conferences on the East Coast is the Perennial Plant Conference held in the fall at Swarthmore College. This conference is co-sponsored by Chanticleer Garden, Longwood Gardens, The Hardy Plant Society/Mid Atlantic Group, The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and The Scott Arboretum of Swarthmore College.  (If you haven’t visited Chanticleer, Longwood Gardens and The Scott Arboretum, you should. Each garden is fantastic in its own right.)

This year on October 16th a group of friends and this Garden Lady joined what looked like a sell out crowd for this 2009’s excellent, informative conference. I hope to be writing about what some of the excellent speakers had to say in future posts.

Right now I want to talk about one of my favorite features at the conference and that is what is called the Promising Plant Forum. Five people who are either from top nurseries or who work at top gardens give a 7 minute presentation of 3 of their favorite choices for best new plant or underused excellent plant for your garden.

It was interesting that of the 15 plants recommended, 4 were Echinacea plants. Echinacea which are commonly called purple coneflowers are native to eastern and central North America, where they are found growing in moist to dry prairies and open wooded areas. Echinacea are generally long lived plants that have large, showy flower heads and are in bloom from early to late summer.

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