Add Orange to Brighten Your Garden

Last night, I was one of about 30 people attending a talk by Northern Gardener writer Eric Johnson at the Northfield Public Library on creating a big impact with a small garden. Eric gardens on a standard city lot in Minneapolis, yet he manages to have a prairie area, a water garden, a shade garden, a vegetable garden, and many creative pots and containers. He offered dozens of ideas, but here is the one I have been thinking about today: Orange is a power color.

orange daylily
This orange daylily would brighten any space.

Orange flowers pop, Eric says, and anytime a space is looking drab, add some orange and see what happens. Except for some tulips and the marigolds I put around the perimeter of my vegetable area, my garden is devoid of orange. That is something I plan to change this year. I’ve got a couple of beds that tend to look almost monochromatic at times of the year (all green), and those might be the place to add some lively orange poppies (one of Eric’s favorite flowers) or zinnias. Eric also recommends pairing orange blooms with pink. If you get the shade just right, orange and pink make a striking combination — and he had a photo to prove it.

In addition to giving an inspiring talk, Eric gave away door prizes! I was one of the lucky winners and came home with a package of zinnia seeds, which I’ll be starting this weekend. Thanks, Eric, for a great talk, and thanks to the Northfield Public Library for sponsoring so many events in celebration of its 100th anniversary in the Carnegie building.

8 thoughts on “Add Orange to Brighten Your Garden

  1. Sounds like fun! I love orange flowers. I have lots of Lily’s and Poppies in that colour, and I love to pair them with blues and purples. Then again, I think everything goes with purple 🙂

  2. Love the idea of designing with color. Did Eric speak at all about how to work with it in the context of how the garden changes over the course of the season? I’ve noticed in my own garden that there are distinct phases of color. Blue and green emerges first from the snow followed by reds and pinks which are then overtaken by a wash of blues and purples. Then Yellows and oranges seem to assert themselves later in the season. It’s pretty amazing to watch but it would be even more amazing to be able to plant with those transitions in mind and still achieve interesting color parings.
    Happy Spring.

  3. I LOVE orange in the garden. Last year, I planted Spicy Lights, Mandarin Lights, and Golden Lights in a grouping. I added tulips in the same shades and love the effect. I also have a purple and orange garden using different shades of purple (salvia, russian sage, iris) and oranges (poppies, day lilies, asiatic lilies, and tulips). I’m looking for places where I can incorporate orange into my other gardens this year.

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