Orange Is Not Only a Fruit

Fortunately we’ve already seen the first snows of the year and can soon expect the last frost to fall, thus signalling the dawn of spring and all the colourful flowers that will bring. Our editorial, centred on the application of specific hues in the garden, continues this week with the vibrant colour orange.

Here are just five of our favourite orange blooms:

picture of Alstroemeria ‘Orange King’

Alstroemeria ‘Orange King’

The ‘Peruvian Lily’, as it is otherwise known, is a fully frost hardy, tuberous species of perennial, best suited to the middle of the borders in your garden. These plants will show rich, vibrant, exotic-looking orange blooms in mid to late summer. They are also excellent to take cuttings from and will propagate readily if planted correctly. They prefer moist but well drained and fertile soil, ideally situated in full sun or partial shade. It is important to mulch them regularly in their first two years and ensure that this mulch is dry during the frosty season to prevent root damage. Unfortunately this cultivar is not complete with a scent, but they are good for cutting to take into the house and do last well in water.

picture of Azalea ‘Gibraltar’

Azalea ‘Gibraltar’

The Gibraltar variety is an upstanding deciduous shrub with a spherical bushy habit, good autumn colour and scented, early summertime flowers of a vivid fiery hue with frilled petals. Expect a spread of 1.3m high and wide if the correct growing conditions are provided, namely a moist acidic soil with a rich humus content. While the plant is fully hardy, it should still be planted in a sheltered spot. Partial shade is preferable and its shallow rooting makes your vigilance against frost essential to its survival, so mulch around the plant with ericaceous compost to protect it. This cultivar is ideal as a border plant or on sloping ground although it will perform equally well against a wall or trellis.

picture of Campsis ‘Madame Galen’

Campsis ‘Madame Galen’

The ‘Trumpet Vine’, as it’s otherwise known, is a perennial and deciduous climbing vine from which you can expect vigorous growth and attractive foliage. As the name suggests the blooms of this plant will be trumpet shaped and will show a rich orange in late summer and early autumn. Though this plant is a climber, it may require a year or two to mature properly and thus additional support in the way of trellis is recommended. Fortunately, the Madame is not especially picky about her soil types as she will tolerate most levels of acidity and combinations of clay, loam or sand, provided you provide her with a sunny spot, preferably a west facing wall to aid with her climbing habit.

picture of Crocosmia ‘Zambesi’

Crocosmia ‘Zambesi’

Crocosmia is a deciduous, cormous perennial that forms clumps of lance-shaped green foliage and tubular, deep orange inflorescences on tall arching stems in late summer to mid-autumn. Similarly to the Madame, Zambesi  copes with virtually any soil type provided it is well drained and protected from frost – this protection can be assured by draining the soil thoroughly. A sunny or partially shaded position is best and, if sheltered, they will stand erect and not need staking. To ensure healthy growth, divide the clumps in spring so as to avoid encroachment ,or an imbalance of nutrients and sun, between specimens and pre-emptively prepare the soil with a fertiliser or humus to provide them with a good start.

picture of Potentilla ‘Tangerine’

Potentilla ‘Tangerine’

This is a small, deciduous, ‘grow-anywhere’ shrub with orange-yellow, saucer-shaped flowers which will show over a long flowering season, throughout summer and autumn, alongside small grey-green leaves. It has a bushy upright habit, and is a very low maintenance plant that will thrive in the majority of soils, aspects and location, but with best long term results in partial sun and moist ground. After 1-5 years of growing you can expect Tangerine to reach full maturity with an approximate spread equal to its height of 1.5m.

By Josh Ellison

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