Designing My Hot Colors Garden

Last year, a friend got married in a great little ceremony here in Madison.  She and her husband picked a good florist in town, daffodil parker, to do her wedding bouquets and table arrangements.  Her florist designed a very cute “hot colors” arrangement of red, yellow and orange gerberas, orange roses and lime green zinnias, among other flowers.  As I have mentioned before on this blog, I was inspired to create a garden bed with a similar feel.

Megan's Table Centerpiece

Megan's Table Centerpiece

First, as with all gardens, we look at the site.  I have an ideal location, a bed about 30 feet long and six feet wide, in full sun, running in the narrow strip between myself and the neighbor, backed by an immature lilac hedge.  It is physically separate from the rest of the gardens, so the different color scheme should not clash with my existing pink, purples and blues that I seem to prefer.

For this garden, I first prepared the soil extensively- with compost, plant materials, straw.  Then I pulled out most of the mint (which will be a lifetime challenge in this garden) that had gone crazy in the bed.  I already had an orange daylily and a “Fire Engine Nicholas” daylily (in honor of my nephew, Nicholas) in the bed.  This past fall I added a “Kansas” peony (bright pink) toward the back and 300 tulips– red, yellow and mixed parrot types.

This weekend, I will start seeds for this garden.  I will have hot pink nasturtiums running along the front, Verbascum “copper rose” toward the back, Dianthus “Crimsonia” in the front, and Nicotiana Langsdorfii in the center of the back. 

Although I am inspired by Megan’s bouquet, I am choosing plants that look better in a garden but have similar colors– instead of lime green zinnias, which are lovely flowers, but not lovely plants, I’ve planted Sedum Repestre “Angelina” for its chartreuse foliage. Likewise, yellow gerberas will be replaced with Eremurus Bungei and its tall yellow spikes (this will be in the back of the new bed), as well as Knifphofia “Alcazar” for its crazy half red, half yellow flowers (in the middle, probably in front of the peony).  I’ll have some tangerine colored marigolds for season long color.  I’m very tempted by “Lemons and Oranges” gallardia offered by High Country Gardens– although I’m a bit wet to be considered xeric out here in Madison, but along the driveway, it’s quite good drainage, so I might take the risk.

In direct homage to the bouquet, I will plant my three year old gerbera (red) in the bed (this has to come in during the winter), along with an orange rose– I haven’t decided which one yet, I like my husband to help pick out, he seems to have better luck picking them than I do. (Anyone have suggestions for a very hardy orange rose?)

This could be great, or it could be a spectacular failure, but it is certainly the fun part of gardening– breaking out of my usual color schemes, expanding my palette and horizons is so fun.  And unlike so many other things, what’s the worst that could happen?  It could all die?  It won’t look worse than last year’s half-bare dirt/ half peppermint bed.  I hope.

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3 Responses to Designing My Hot Colors Garden

  1. katelloyd says:

    I can’t wait to see this! It sounds super awesome.

  2. gwendolyngarden says:

    If you are interested, you can check out the first year’s progress at — It’s looking better all the time!

  3. Pingback: What they don’t tell you about a first year garden « Gwendolyn’s Garden

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