Seeing red: incorporating colour into your garden


As a colour, red has a serious fan club. Red shoes (to die for), red cars (go faster), red lipstick (no comment) and red roses … which brings us to red in the garden

Red is the perfect foil to green, which is why we often paint the front door red, or line the path with evergreen topiary balls growing in glazed planters, or tie oversized bows into the shrubbery come Christmas time. Here we take a quick look at some brilliant plants that pack a racy red punch.

It’s not always about the flower, though. Sometimes it’s about the leaves and one look at Coprosma Pacific Sunset proves that. Once you’ve planted a pair of these in pots to flank your entrance, or massed them against strappy foliage in a modernist garden, you can count on them to thrive. They will always look this delicious and the colour will continue to wow.
Of course, you can’t get much more traditional than roses. The problem is a classic long-stemmed rose tends to be a fussy thing to grow — the bush is often ungainly and the flowering season can be short. Luckily, there are two options when it comes to Flower Carpet roses, which are so easy to grow. Plant either the Scarlet or the Red species and stand back. You’ll soon be sighing over the flowers for months.

While phlox is much loved, many gardeners are a little wary, given it has a reputation for being mildew-prone. This is not the case for Volcano Phlox, which is disease resistant and comes in many colours, including a fabulous red. And if you’re looking for tropical warmth, there is something very cheery and heart-warming about Canna Tropicanna — one look and you’ll feel like the party’s starting. Each leaf is an astonishing mix of hot colours, including red. Plant this where the sun can shine backlit through the leaves to make the most of the vibrancy.

Strappy foliage is every garden designer’s favourite tool and it’s an even better weapon when the long, linear leaves are a burgundy hue, like those of Cordyline Red Fountain. To use it like a professional, think about planting it in chunky masses or giving a long driveway a punchy edging.

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Anthony Tesselaar

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