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Some Like It Hot

by germinatrix | May 28th, 2009


hemerocallis 'acapulco nights' hugs a passionflowerhemerocallis ‘acapulco nights’ hugs a passionflower

Red. Orange. Yellow.

These are my colors – I love it when my garden can literally singe your eyeballs with the hot side of the spectrum. I never understand when clients say “absolutely NO ORANGE” – and they say that alot. or “no RED – Martha Stewart says it’s tacky”

Sorry, but painting your house the color of eggs that shoot out of your chicken’s butt might also be construed as tacky. Okay, so the eggs are shades of blue. Still.


my beloved tile wall!my beloved orange tile wall!

I can appreciate soft colors. Sometimes. In other people’s gardens. In England. There is something about the light of Southern California that makes pastels kind of insipid. Give me something I can SEE! 


my mini ode to silver, for pal ESP!my mini ode to silver, for pal ESP!

You can still be subtle using hot colors, although it might seem like a contradiction. Just check out this Melianthus major/ Alstromeria ‘Salmon’ combo! That would pass muster in ANY tasteful garden – but of course, I throw in a Rosa ‘Red Ballerina’ and get all up in your face. By the way, check out the lovely study in silver over at the East_Side_Patch!


taking it 'over the top' - yeah!taking it ‘over the top’ – yeah!
me plus hemerocallis 'apple tart' equals luvme plus hemerocallis ‘apple tart’ equals luv

Summer is on the way – I know this because my hemerocallis are blooming their hearts out – they are my very literal red flags. I have about six shades of red daylilies. I love them! I just decided I love them again … I was out of love with them for about three years – they seemed too cottage-y, but now I can’t get enough of the cottage vibe! As long as the colors are scorching. 

another red daylily with a hint of - watermelon?another red daylily with a hint of – watermelon?


euphorbia 'stix on fire' - best plant name evereuphorbia ‘stix on fire’ – best plant name ever

Okay, I understand why people would be afraid of the over-the-top colors, especially red. Red says “LOOK! I AM FABULOUS!” – and not everyone is ready for that kind of in-your-face attitude from a plant. Red in a garden also demands character from the rest of the plantings … it will look ridiculous if placed in association with wan, anemic colors and indistinct shapes. I think red looks fantastic with purples, orange looks scrumptious with chartreuse, and yellow makes odd, dusky colors like bronze really come alive.


passion, in a flowerpassion, in a flower


the latest aloe to bloom, with a backdrop of pomegranate flowersthe latest aloe to bloom, with a backdrop of pomegranate flowers

Today, my garden was full of red blooms – earlier in the spring, the yellows of the aloes took center stage. Soon, my cannas will be popping, and orange will be the color of the moment. There are other colors of flower and foliage in the garden, of course – but my eyes, and my heart, belongs to those plants that dare to be loud; that risk being tacky. 

We are kindred spirits!

15 Responses to “Some Like It Hot”

  1. Intheory says:

    Your garden is ON FIRE lady and I love it!

  2. Oh Germi I don’t even know where to start…you have given me so much to comment on!!! First of all “no orange”!!! What is wrong with these people? Martha Stewart says red is tacky? OMG! Red is passion! Have they no passion? And I LOVE that tile!!! Fabulous! I want it! I am also so happy to see both you and Pam over at Digging saying positive things about daylilies. Too many people think they are passe. Thank you for making my Friday morning more colorful!

  3. Hey Sue/Theory! Right on – you and I are on the same HOT page!

    Loree my dear! People can be SO WEIRD about color! When I was a kid, I was always attracted to the brights and the darks, and I colored with ALL of them – I guess some people just started life coloring with the baby colors and became afraid of the ‘Other Side’. And YES – Martha was famous for never wanting red flowers in her garden – until she realized that she was being super boring and had a red garden put in. Too late! I’ll always remember her anti-red edicts. I think I stopped reading her magazine around then…
    Isn’t my tile was awesome? It is my pride and joy – Jorge (who is designing the hacienda in the Yucatan that I’m gardening around) gave it to me when I did the garden at his house. Everything looks good in front of that wall! You can see it over my fence, and I’ve had people ring my doorbell and ask me what is going on in my backyard. Because I have fiesta lights and the wall, I think some people think I have a restaurant back there!
    And daylilies are definitely making a comeback – I feel silly for not using them more. I mean, HELLO! Tough and beautiful? Gimme more of that! I am adding more daylilies to my garden this year – probably red ones!

  4. I’m salivating…. the color palette, moi aussi! I grow Melianthus m. ‘Purple Haze’, a gift from Planet Horticulture, specifically Roger Raiche who selected it & grew it on from a pathetic looking, stunted thing in a 4-inch pot, before introducing it into the trade years later. It’s compact, low-growing w/deeper color on flower spike and leaves. A treasure that I highly recommend. While I have NO luck with the dark Euphoribias (they die here). As to your choice of tile and vertical blue juxtaposition and succulent tableau – too perfect for words.

  5. I commented before but I don’t know if it disappeared or what…Your anecdote about red being tacky made me laugh. That sounds like the same mentality that buys art to match the decor!
    I love those orange tiles-the perfect backdrop for those plants and flowers. In my new house my architect chose red tiles for inside the shower and I just love it-imagine entering an understated sand and wood bathroom and then entering the shower to be surrounded by hot red! I love those aloe flowers, they are among my favorite, my aloe maculata sends up a coral chandelier every 3 months..

  6. I am so with you on this one. Love lov lov the hot colors. We just had our house redone in a georgeous ochre color and now I get to get rid of all those pussy colors and replace them with fabulous warmth. Oranges, golds, bronzes, reds,…I can’t wait! Of course, part of the problem with hot colored flowers is that all the ones I want seem to require full sun. [sigh] So I don’t know what I’ll do about that in our full shade front yard.

  7. Just popped over from twitter when I saw Toronto Garden’s tweet – I love hot colors in the garden! My last stop today was the nursery to pick up coleus and giant begonias – all in shades of peach, orange, dark red and lime green. You’re showing sun plants, but don’t forget a fiery palette rocks a shade garden like nobody’s business.

  8. Alice, thanks for those very kind words! But let’s get down to it – where do I find this Melianthus? It sounds like exactly my kind of plant – if the original is already good – then a more compact version with a richer flower! Bring it on! I’m going to start asking every nursery and plant broker I know for it. Thanks for the hot tip, Tendril! May I call you Tendril – it suits you!
    I’m so glad you like my wall – that is one of my favorite photos ever!

    Hi Nicole! Yes, Martha’s rule of red. Whatever!
    But YOU have the last laugh, because it sounds like your bathroom KILLS! That is a shower I want to have! We are re-doing our bathroom sometime soon … I might just have to bite your idea! Would you still be my friend?
    I MUST get an Aloe maculata! I don’t know what variety the aloe in front of the pomegranate is – it was supposed to be a variety that blooms white … which it obviously isn’t. So I have to get out the books and try an ID it. There are so many aloes I want! Some day I’ll have to post my aloe wish list…

    Welcome, Snarky V! I laughed out loud in the middle of meeting – I took a second while the clients were contemplating some plant choices to check my comments – and I totally busted a gut when I read about you getting to get rid of “those pussy colors”!!! HA! I couldn’t have put it better myself!
    You know, I have a fairly shady front yard, but it’s a bright shade, so I get more flowers than I thought I would. And I have one area that gets a few hours of sun – usually, that’s all you need. But the Alstromeria ‘Salmon’ pictured above blooms beautifully in bright shade, so there’s a start! Where do you live? I can give you a couple of plant suggestions – one good laugh deserves some plant advice!

  9. Susan! How did I miss your comment! It must have come in while I was writing the novella comments I tend to post – see why Twitter is so hard for me?
    You are ABSOLUTELY correct, of course – the colorful shade plants need love, too – I just don’t happen to have any in my garden! But there are way too many incredible Coleus varieties that cannot be ignored – ‘Inky Fingers’, ‘The Line’, ‘Dark Star’ ! And what is hotter than a blooming Clivia? Shut your eyes! It burns!
    Okay, that’s it – what is my deal? I am SO GLAD you pointed out this oversight, because I have some shady areas that are crying out for love!
    I would NEVER ignore a client’s shady areas! Why do I do it in my garden? No more!
    The Hot Shade Palette is in the hopper. Thanks Susan!

  10. Wow! I’m so glad Mary Ann Moss of Dispatch from LA pointed us in your direction, because your photos do sing out in color!

    Personally I love the combination of orange and hot pink, or purple and red… If the color exists in a flower, it’s beautiful, as far as I’m concerned!

  11. Hey, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!

  12. Hi Anna Maria – welcome to the garden party! I was so excited when I saw that Mary Ann gave me such a nice boost/link on her blog, and what a pleasure to have you pop by and leave a nice comment. We are on the same page about color – Pink and Orange – YEAH! Now THAT is hot!
    Keep visiting! Love to have you on board…

    Hey Nicole!

  13. My dear germinatrix…. you may not only call me ‘tendril,’ but I will curl my little self around your blog posts (AND tweets!) in order to stay connected.
    btw… for the longest time it was impossible to obtain Melianthus ‘Purple Haze,’ but the last time I wrote about it, I did a google search and found there it was, indeed, available at several nurseries. Good luck… it’s worth hunting for! lol

  14. You and I both go for the reds whenever we can, Germi. Sizzle! Your ‘Apple Tart’ is blooming ahead of mine, but it’s coming. I have a lot more shade in the new-baby garden, but actually in Austin daylilies need a bit of shade (probably in L.A. too, eh?).

    I would kill for an orange-tiled wall. Actually, any sort of wall. Love it!

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