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Allan designs and plants flowering gardens in Montreal, Zone 5 [USDA Zone 4] .

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Composing with Red Flowers

Photo by Sue Hasker, is the most frequently used color combination in industrial societies; it is everywhere, from stop signs, to billboards to retail marquees. It is attention grabbing, and its commercial prevalence makes it challenging to use in the garden. Try to create a perennial flower bed using red, and if the wrong shade has been chosen, the results may appear harsh, commercial, industrial, or a combination of all three. Select the correct shade and the final composition can be impressive.

There are many shades of red among the vast number of perennials and choosing one that is inappropriate for ones climate or color scheme may produce disappointing results. In hot climates, reds look amazing because they are unbleachable by the intense sun and, under that condition, any shade of red will do. However, in temperate climates, the nature of the daylight and the proximity of other colors need to be considered.

In the above photo of a flower border at Elvaston Castle in the UK, the shade of red is just right. It modifies a white perennial that is subtly tinted with pink, it enlivens the pale blue flowers in the distance, and enhances the surrounding foliage and the vine covered wall in the background. In my climate, Zone USDA 4, the sunlight of Central - Eastern Canada is too bright to use red perennials in such a color composition; yet in the daylight of the UK, it is most appropriate.

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Reader Comments (2)


You are right, a little red enlivens a border, too much of it and you want to turn away.


April 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEileen

Glad you thought MY photo worthy of using on your blog.

April 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSue Hasker

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