For many Americans, the 4th of July is a time to fly the flag and dress in patriotic colors. But for gardeners, the fireworks start early as red, white and blue flowers begin taking shape in summer gardens. As nature’s palette turns from pastels to brights, white never looked crisper, nor red so fiery-hot. Blue, well, that’s a different story, so please see below.
RED FLOWERS FOR THE SUMMER GARDEN
Considered the most attention-grabbing of colors, red stirs strong emotions that vary across cultures. In China, it is a symbol of good luck and prosperity, while on Wall Street ‘in the red’ means you’re losing money. And on the American flag, the red stripes are meant to symbolize ‘hardiness and valor.’
Hybrid tea rose
In the summer garden, red flowers make a bold statement, too, especially when framed by red’s complementary color, green. For a big impact, group red flowers in the back of the border in front of an evergreen hedge or combine them with other ‘hot’ colors’ for a strong composition. Conversely, cool them down by pairing them with silvers. Either way, people will stand up and notice.
And just like the stripes on the flag, white flowers offer a crisp contrast to all that red.
Here are some of the best red flowers for your summer garden.
Quince ‘Double Take ‘Scarlet’
Crimson bottlebrush, Callistemon citrinus
‘Mister Lincoln’ Hybrid Tea Rose
Begonia ‘Dragon’s Blood’
Geranium ‘Americana Red’
Dahlia ‘Bishop of llandaff’
Daylily ‘Always Afternoon’
Asiatic lily (red)
Gaillardia ‘Spin Top Orange Halo’
WHITE FLOWERS FOR THE SUMMER GARDEN
The purest of all colors in terms of composition, white is considered in most cultures to be symbolic of goodness and light. It can also indicate cleanliness and is the color of perfection. On the American flag, the white stripes signify purity and innocence.
In the summer garden, white has a certain innocent quality, too. White plants reflect light, instantly brightening and drawing attention to key areas of the garden. And planted alone, they act as beacons, calling attention to themselves while highlighting other colors.
White flowers look great planted in drifts in a mixed-color border, or you can go all-out and create an all-white garden while planting them as thick as hasty pudding.
Drift of white echinacea
Here are some of the best and brightest white flowers for the summer garden:
Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’
Mock Orange ‘Snow White Sensation’
Azalea ‘Delaware Valley White’
Rose ‘Boule de Neige’
Phlox paniculata ‘David’
Iris germanica ‘Immortality’
Allium ‘Mount Everest’
Echinacea ‘Pow Wow White’
Anemone ‘Honorine Jobert’
Physostegia virginiana ‘Crystal Peak White’
BLUE FLOWERS FOR THE SUMMER GARDEN
On the color spectrum, blue is found at the other end from red. It is considered the hardest color to see. For this reason, it is known as a cool color. On the American flag, blue is the color of the Chief and signifies vigilance, perseverance and justice.
Himalayan blue poppy
Since blue color appears to recede, it can be used in the summer garden to add depth and volume to a composition. The only problem with blue flowers is that there aren’t many that are actually blue. Most are tinged with lavender or purple.
Here are the truest blue flowers I’ve found to date for the summer garden:
Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Nikko Blue’
‘Bluebird’ lacecap hydrangea
Caryopteris ‘Longwood Blue’
Blue coleus, also know as bush coleus
Gentian Sage, Salvia patens
Lewis flax, Linum lewisii
Muscari aucheri ‘Blue Magic’
Mostly blue with lavender tinge
Hidcote Blue English Lavender
Veronica spicata ‘Royal Candles’
Russian sage, Perovskia
Wishing you all a very Happy Fourth of July!