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When you mention the colour orange, some people think of Autumn leaf colour whilst others imagine hot summer borders designed to create drama that bring a jungle feel to the garden, but when it is used with other plants that combine texture and form, it is a fabulous colour choice to use.

“Orange is possibly the most exciting colour in the gardener’s palette ……… yet it is the only one that many reject out of hand”.
Christopher Lloyd

Gardener, Writer and creator of Great Dixter

Orange sits on the colour wheel between the warm colours of yellow-orange and red-orange and used with these colours will create a harmonious and balanced planting scheme. Alternatively, orange can be used to create a ‘complementary’ planting scheme using colours that sit opposite it on the colour wheel such as
blue-violet to create a dramatic planting plan.

You could even try using it as an accent colour by dropping one single orange plant into your border to create some impact which is repeated throughout the garden. Choose your ‘impact’ plant variety carefully and ensure that has a long flowering period so the effect lasts for as long as possible.

A good choice for a tall statement plant at the back of a border is Canna Lily ‘Wyoming’ which will give an instant tropical feel. These plants need to be over-wintered in a warm dry place as they are too tender to stay outside during our winters.

Mid-height plant choices could include Helenium ‘Moerheim Beauty’ or ‘Shain’s early Flowerer’. Both have masses of daisy-like flowers in shades or orange, gold and mahogany which flower from June onwards 90cms.

One of my favorite perennial plants is Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’. This plant first took Chelsea by storm in 2010 and has remained popular ever since. It looks great when planted amongst grasses and will give an airy feel, try combining it with Stipa Tenuissma or Anemanthele Lessonia for a great look.

Or how about Echinacea ‘Irresistible’ with its vivid orange flowers, or Achillea ‘Terracotta’. Both make a great addition to your border and are exceedingly popular with the insects and will flower from June to September 60cms.

A good choice for the front of a border are Calendula ‘Indian Prince’ or Tithonia ‘Torch’, both will add a zip to your borders, or perhaps the perennial Heuchera ‘Marmalade’, a new variety that has ruffled peachy/bronze leaves.

Finally, to add some height look out for the climber Lonicera ‘Dropmore Scarlet’. This climber really gives a garden a tropical vibe. The vivid flower trumpets are scarlet at first, but then burst into hot orange flowers. In mild areas this plant may well retain its leaves over winter and so makes a useful screen. Ensure you give this plant a good sturdy structure to grow on to support the woody stems 4m.

I hope that this has inspired you to bring a touch of the tropics to you own garden this summer, then all you need is a hammock some long summer days and a fruity cocktail!

Until next time




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