For many Americans, Fourth of July is synonymous with fireworks. But for gardeners, the pyrotechnics start early. That’s because by mid June, spring pastels are already giving way to explosive color as red, white and blue flowers begin lighting up the summer garden.
RED FLOWERS EXCITE
On the color spectrum, red is the most attention-grabbing of colors. In Asia, it symbolizes prosperity and good luck, while on Wall Street ‘in the red’ means you’re losing money. And on the American flag, the red stripes stand for ‘hardiness and valor.’
Hybrid tea rose
In the summer garden, red flowers act like fireworks, especially when framed by red’s complementary color, green. Looking to dazzle? Try grouping red flowers in front of an evergreen hedge and watch the pyrotechnics begin!
Red roses and green hedge
Or, combine them with other hot colors for an eye-catching composition.
Too many red flowers? You can cool things down by pairing them with silver.
Red salvia and silver ragwort
And just like the stripes on the flag, white flowers offer a crisp contrast to all shades of red.
Here are some of the best red flowers for your summer garden.
‘Mister Lincoln‘ Hybrid Tea Rose
Begonia ‘Dragon Wing‘
Geranium ‘Americana Red‘
Dahlia ‘Bishop of Llandaff‘
Asiatic lily ‘Red Country‘
Gaillardia ‘Spin Top Red‘
WHITE FLOWERS BRIGHTEN
The purest of all colors in terms of composition, white is considered by most cultures to represent goodness and light. It can also indicate cleanliness and perfection. On the American flag, the white stripes signify purity and innocence.
In the summer garden, white flowers bring a pristine quality to the mix. Since white reflects light, white flowers instantly brighten key areas of the garden. They also help highlight other colors.
Below, Echinacea ‘White Swan’ enlivens a mixed border.
Drift of white echinacea
Some gardeners even go all out and create an all-white garden. (The great thing about white flowers, by the way, is that they look especially good at night.)
Garden composed of all white flowers and silver foliage.
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 CALM
Located at the other end of the color spectrum from red, blue 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. It signifies vigilance, perseverance and justice.
Himalayan blue poppy
The thing about blue is that it appears to recede (notice how the blue section of the flag seems less intense than the red.) Because of this quality, blue flowers can add depth and volume to a garden composition.
That said, there’s just one problem with blue flowers. Most aren’t truly blue. Most are tinged with lavender or purple. Even so, color can be subjective, so people have different opinions on what’s blue.
Here are the truest blue flowers I’ve found to date for the summer garden:
Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Nikko Blue‘
Lacecap hydrangea ‘Bluebird‘
Caryopteris ‘Longwood Blue‘
Gentian Sage, Salvia patens
Muscari aucheri ‘Blue Magic’
Mostly blue with lavender tinge
Blue English Lavender ‘Munstead‘
Veronica spicata ‘Royal Candles‘
Russian sage, ‘Blue Jean Baby‘
Wishing you all a very Happy Fourth of July!