“HOW On Earth” – Published in Pink Magazine – October 2010


“There is no blue without yellow and without orange.” –Vincent Van Gogh

This month my children suggested I write about orange flowers in honor of Halloween. My first thought of this intense, vibrant and very hot color was my initial feelings of dislike.  I never used it in my designs, preferring the soft pastels and more subtle colors. Orange I felt was garish, too strong and harsh. A soft shade of pink was my favored hue, one that orange clearly did not blend with well. I went years without using this hue or any of its other flashy friends. I remember when I was first asked to design the borders and pots at Arthur Blanks residence. The guidelines were simple. I could choose whatever flowers I wanted as long as they were bright, showy and vivid. Orange was the favorite shade and pink was out. The more reds and yellows incorporated into this seaside garden estate, the better. My once in a lifetime opportunity had just presented an interesting challenge and one that would forever change my opinion of the color orange. I decided to bring in my cool friends, blues and purples. I massed sweeps of these electrifying colors throughout the property separating and interspersing them with their rich complementary counterparts. The result truly transformed me. I loved the vibrancy and aliveness these colors brought to the garden. Orange was clearly the star of the show the way it stands out among the rest of the colors. It is now my favorite color, of course, next to pink.

“Orange is the happiest color.” — Frank Sinatra

The color choice of October is clearly orange. I love to fill pots in the fall with mums, pansies, violas, snapdragons, and calendulas. These plants are readily available now and combine wonderfully with assorted greens such as sedums, vinca vine, liriope and lysimachia. Place pots at your front or on your deck and surround with pumkins, gourds and perhaps a scarecrow for a truly festive display.



Annuals: (spring/summer)  
Geranium Orange geraiums with blue lobelia and variegated vinca vine makes a great pot.
Zinnia The profusion series is my favorite
Gazania These guys are definelty happy and love it hot.
Nasturtium A spring beauty
Mexican sunflower (tithonia) Everyone always asks me the name of this six foot beauty in my garden. Looks stunning paired with blue salvia.
Marigolds Don’t overlook these traditional orange dazzlers. They are dependable and deer resistant.
Begonia ‘Orange Rubra’ is an angel wing type great for hanging baskets.
Impatiens Both impatiens and the New guinea series have orange flowers that are great for the shade.
Purslane & Portulaca These succulents bloom only during the day and are very low growing.
Primula These little treasures generally become available during the winter. They can handle our cold temperatures but not frost. Plant in pots or in the border. They benefit with some light shade.
Poppy The California poppy has beautiful feathery foliage that lasts all winter. In early spring, multitudes of bright orange flowers set this plant ablaze.
Pansy & viola Everyone’s favorite including the deer. Violas can handle a little shade. These guys bloom all winter.
Snapdragons There are dwarf varieties up to 3’ tall. Will bloom in the fall and then again in spring. Deer resistance.
Calendula If they don’t rot, these plants are very showy, often blooming continuosly fall through spring.
Lion’s Head (Leonotis Very dependable, easy perennial. 4-5’ tall.
Roses ‘Cary grant’ and Brandy are two hybrid teas with equisite orange blossoms, both are AARS winners
Jessamine (cestrum aurantiacum) Very dependable, blooms spring-fall, likes sun
Lantana ‘Tangerine’ is a low growing solid orange lantana. It looks great in pots mixed with Blue Daze (Evolvulus).
Rudbeckia Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii is an orange form of this carefree perennial.
Hibiscus Orange just speaks tropical and this is the best shade for this plant.
Butterfly Weed (Asclepias) As the name suggests, this is host plant for the monarch.
Gaillardia Excellent native plant to the dunes. Full sun, profuse bloomer.
Canna ‘Bengal Tiger’ is a real show stopper with yellow and green striped foliage, vivid orange flowers
Gerbera Great plants for spring and fall with several shades of orange available.
Yarrow (achillea) ‘Paprika’ is a cultivar with orangy red flowers with lacy, fern-like foliage.
Bulbine ‘Hallmark’ is a succulent that does great in full sun. Blooms continuously.