Thursday, 23 May 2013

Chelsea Flower Show - the hot colour for 2013

Something feisty and demanding has infiltrated the Chelsea Flower Show this year. From paving to plants, it has given a warm glow to the event. It may have been a surprisingly subtle return for a loud colour, but orange is most definitely back.


Paul Hervey-Brookes uses Geum 'Prinses Juliana' and Carex flagellifera 'Auburn Cascade' in his design for Brand Alley (above), picking out the colour in the wall. He isn't the only designer to embrace the warmth; the WaterAid artisan garden is ablaze with marigolds.


Elsewhere, orange is used in a more understated way. Here, in Ulf Nordfjell's garden for Laurent-Perrier, the warm colour of the travertine stone is picked up in Lilium 'Orange Marmalade' and Iris 'Beverly Sills'. 


In Chris Beardshaw's garden for Arthritis Research UK,  Eschscholzia californica unfurl alongside Iris 'Supreme Sultan' (which will soon be showing its true colours - deep orange and purple). 


Stoke-on-Trent's show garden has a palette focussing on orange, apricot and copper.


In Scape Design's garden, After the Fire, the contrast between the orange pool, terracotta seats, the vivid green new leaves and the charred tree trunks is striking.


Even that 1970's must-have orange toy, the Space Hopper, made a comeback   (I spotted two) - this one is in the NSPCC garden.


Orange can be a difficult colour to use in the garden because it clashes so readily with other colours and is so demanding of our attention. Some people find this quality stimulating; others find it too challenging. Used well, it can link plants, hard landscaping and buildings together. Its propensity to clash with other colours such as strong, hot pinks can be exciting, yet it can be used more subtly to enhance bronze foliage. 

Chris Beardshaw's Arthritis Research UK garden
It may be challenging, but a twist of orange really can lift a planting scheme. It certainly worked its magic at Chelsea this year. 











40 comments:

  1. Nice to see splashes of orange at Chelsea, a colour normally associated with later shows like Hampton Court and Tatton Park.

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    1. It is! I think it's refreshing to see some orange at this time of year.

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  2. Very pretty displays. I like orange in the landscape. Just a little pop of color here and there.
    Cher Sunray Gardens

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    1. They are fabulous displays this year. I like your phrase "little pop of colour here and there"!

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  3. Last year I started adding 'more orange in the garden' with plants and decorative punches. The color excites and stimulates working very well, as you describe, with bronzes, purples and apricot hues. The tulip Ballerina is a great spring strong orange that glows like fire and lasts remarkably long.

    Your write up was very good and I certainly enjoyed the update on Chelsea.

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    1. Thank you - I am so pleased you enjoyed this post. I agree with you about Ballerina - what a vibrant colour! As if that wasn't enough, it gives off an amazing fragrance when it is warm. A great choice!

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  4. We don't really have much orange in the garden - just the odd geum but thinking about the plot we have quite a few orange plants

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    1. I am very fond of Geum - there are such lovely varieties available. 'Prinses Juliana' does really well here, as does the quieter Geum rivale.

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  5. Hooray! I absolutely love orange - it works well here in our harsh sunlight. I especially love it paired with purple. That last garden is fabulous.

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    1. The last garden should look even better by the end of the show if the plants get some sun on them! I love your enthusiasm for orange - I guess if you live with harsh sunlight, you learn very quickly which plants look washed-out on a hot, sunny day. If only we could have the opportunity to observe orange plants in the UK on a hot, sunny day... or two...

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  6. I don't mind a bit of orange in the garden as long as it is in the right place preferably the veg garden. I wonder who decides at Chelsea - what is going to be the 'in' colour each year.

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    1. I think it just happens. I guess that sometimes plants might get shared around a bit, but orange in its various saturations was evident in a range of plants and in the hard landscaping. Perhaps we're all ready for a bit of warmth!

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  7. I love those bright sunny flower colours. I wouldn't want clothes or house walls that colour, but they look great in the garden.

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    1. They are invigorating aren't they? I have been known to don an orange high-vis jacket on occasion - I would like to think it wasn't a complete fashion faux-pas!

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  8. I've not many oranges - they tend to be impulse purchases when I see them and then decide I don't like them much!
    The designers colours are never very far from each other. Surely they must collaborate,

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    1. The dreaded impulse purchase can be such a disappointment! I am awaiting the outcome of an impulse bulb purchase I made at Chelsea last year. I planted the bulbs last autumn and I am waiting for summer, when I will discover whether I was inspired, or just carried away with the heady delights of the Great Pavilion. (Pimms may also have had something to do with it).

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  9. I can imagine orange and bronze looking wonderful together. I had some early orange tulips that looked great with all the unfurling green foliage. Definitely a hit - thanks for sharing the pictures!

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    1. Orange and bronze work very well - the orange seems to lift the bronze and the bronze moderates the excesses of the orange. I agree with you about orange and fresh, young, leaves - it's a really lively combination.

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  10. Orange is showing up a lot on this side of the pond too. Remembering the '70s orange phase has me hesitating to add it to my garden but I plan a few accents because I do like it.

    The last garden is wonderful.

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    1. How interesting that you are seeing more orange in the States too. The 1970's have a lot to answer for! I'm pleased to see you are recovering from the '70's trend and welcoming orange back into your garden.

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  11. Orange Geums were certainly everywhere. Really loved them - brightened everything up on a vey dull Tuesday visit.

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    1. You're right - orange does lift a scheme on a dull day. If only we could have seen the Chelsea gardens on a hot sunny day to appreciate the full strength of this colour!

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  12. It all looks so pretty and bright, I so want to go one year.

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    1. You would love it! The atmosphere is great too.

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  13. Your shots are just gorgeous! That last picture has the most outstanding border!!! And yes I have noticed so much lately in the way of orange! Corals are big at my garden center this year as well! So stunning!!

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    1. Thank you! I agree with you about the borders in the final photo. How interesting that you, too, have noticed a resurgence in the use of orange/corals in the garden.

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  14. I love orange in the garden, I think it makes everything zing. I've recently come across geum Tangerine, though it isn't quite so 'in your face' orange, but I think it's delightful and it's now on my wish list.

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    1. That's a lovely Geum - it flowers for ages.

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  15. If you grow lots of dahlias as I do, you MUST have orange in your garden. I agree it was out of favor for a bit but almost everything old is new again, if you get my drift!

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    1. I get your drift - it's like the Little Black Dress which was brown for a while and since I am not the editor of Vogue, I can't tell you what colour the Little Black Dress is at the moment. Fashion-wise, I am delighted about the current trend for wildlife gardening, although I don't like the idea that gardening with wildlife in mind might become unfashionable one day. I bet your garden's a picture in late summer!

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  16. We put a whole load of marigolds in this year and the orange-yellow from those is set with a butter-yellow "Teasing Georgia" rose, brilliant-yellow of evening-primrose and then sunflowers. Complementing all that hot yellow-orange are the metallic-lilac of Allium Christophii, softer lavender and cool Siberian iris. I think they work really well together as a colour combination.

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    1. I had forgotten how much I love marigolds until I saw the WaterAid garden. I certainly plan to sow some in 2014. Your planting scheme sounds fab!

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  17. It's funny, we develop biases against certain colours, but then we see it in a different context and wonder why we never liked it! Great uses of the colour orange :)

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    1. I have been thinking about colour-bias lately because about six months ago, I reached the age of loving yellow after having spent the whole of my life loathing the colour. Very odd.

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  18. I can see how a little orange highlights the other colors in the garden. I do not have a lot of orange except for the daylilies, but the blooms only last a few weeks.

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    1. Daylilies are so beautiful. I like the fresh green foliage too.

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  19. Wow! Thanks for letting us tag along with you to the Chelsea Flower Show. Personally, I love orange in the garden. I love purple too and those two seem to get along fine. That orange pool and 'Supreme Sultan' "take the cake" for me from the lovely tour. All the best! :-)

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    1. My pleasure - thank you for accompanying me!

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  20. Thanks for the wonderful photos. I love orange but tend to stay away from it because of it's difficult tendancies. Nice to have some photos for reference on what to use it with.

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    1. My pleasure. I think the key is to use orange with a little caution until you know how much of it you want to see in the border.

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