Tag Archives: red


If you have not been lucky enough to spend a week in the Caribbean, but love dreaming about the possibility of going there, then a couple of these wonderful plants will certainly help your imagination along the way.  


OK, they are not truly hardy in the UK, I live on the South Coast and mine pop up every year, in spite of being summarily ignored by me for most of the year. If you live more North, it’s probably best to put these in a large pot and then give them a bit of shelter in the winter, remember it is usually cold wet that kills. 


Mine have survived some pretty severe frosts, and yes it does snow south of the Watford Gap in sufficient quantities to make snowmen. However, my soil is not really waterlogged and so they survive.


When they do, you are rewarded with large tropical leaves in extremely tropical colours and flowers that seem to be built for humming birds to pop in and out of them.  I would add, that mine would look bigger bolder and more exotic if I remembered to add manure in spring (they do like a lot of food) and also if I remembered to water them more often (it rains a lot in the tropics), so mine look great but not spectacular, but I like ‘great’ and I sometimes haven’t got time to ensure they are spectacular.


Crocosmias are really good at creating spectacular displays without requiring acres of space.


They have bright fresh green sword like leaves, which means they grow up, not outwards and as they don’t have twiggy bits you won’t scratch yourself if they go all the way down the path. 


In summer you get tropical red, orange or yellow flowers held up above the leaves, so you can see all of them. 


They will spread out sideways so if they creep where you don’t want you pull up the corms (bulbs just on the surface). 


The nicest thing though is they seem to glow in the sun, and so a big ‘drift’ of them is just lovely, if you want a little more colour for more of the year, team them up with Allium bulbs, Gladioli ( there are some lovely ones out there), or plant them with loads of Verbena Bonariensis or Fennel.


Any garden without tulips is missing something – a bit like dressing up for dinner or a night out and forgetting to put your jewellery on.  They are meant to pop up and yell ‘look at me I’m a drama queen’. 


Tulips catch your attention when not a great deal of large sized flowers are out.  Their role is to get noticed for a short time and then they can slip off when other longer flowered plants start performing.


However, drama queen does not mean diva, some tulips are horrible, over bred, fussy, frilly, too much makeup and end up looking like a fashion disaster. 


Don’t think more colour is best, think how best to use the colour.

Here for example, the tulips are off white, classy but not dull.


tulip white triumphator flower sq crop


Tulips here (and yes I know its a not your average back garden plot), at Arundel Castle, have been planted to be drama queens. They scream look at me, but do so tastefully, with complimentary colours and similar shape flowers.


Arundel Tulips


Not too much petal fluff and frill, but you definitely know they are there!


Do not just buy anything and plonk it in, think 2-3 complimentary colours but use similar shaped blooms, choose one colour and go for different shaped tulip flowers, or clash 2 colours together.


Whatever you chose to do throw the bulbs onto the soil and plant where they fall, random is what nature does, and more is definitely better.


I know I said tulips were drama queens, but they do not stop the show by themselves, so plant as many as you can afford.

Why do we need blue roses?

I don’t know about you, but why is there such an obsession amongst growers to make flowers bloom in every possible colour, it is almost the holy grail of plant breeding to develop the most perfect blue rose – why?


There are hundreds of beautiful roses out there, hundreds, which cover the whole of the spectrum of colour except blue, over thousands of years the rose has ignored blue so why do we think we are right and roses wrong?


Whenever I have seen at a show an attempt at a ‘blueish’ rose the whole flower looks awful, it’s almost as though the red or yellow primary colours are really required to capture the summer sunshine and reflect it back, but blue seems to absorb all the warmth of the flower.


So my beef I suppose is, that we should learn when to and when not to meddle.  I recently saw blue tinted orchids in my local supermarket – they were hideous and so fake looking. Orchid flowers are incredible pretty and evocative, adding a blue rinse to them is just in my opinion tasteless.


So let’s concentrate on developing new blooms because they are beautiful or more insect friendly and not because we can!


V3 real gardeners and spray

Linum Grandiflorum Rubrum

You won’t have heard of this plant, but trust me it falls into the ‘happy flower’ category, and we all need happy!

They are annuals, so think sweet pea like foliage (loosely) treat them a bit like sweet peas, but let them set seed and pop up wherever they choose, I guarantee you will smile at the flowers!

Standing out from the crowd!

 Small Garden Design: Be Bold


palm trees  palms in front with big n red


These are lovely palm trees, healthy, tall and a really nice group, but is the best being made of them. They undeniably stand out and demand to be looked at, but does the ‘background scenery’ enhance or diminish their impact

To me, they appear out of place, palm trees don’t really grow up out of lush green lawns, to me, palms envoke ‘holiday, beach, sunshine, warmth‘ thoughts, so I think they would look even more dramatic if I recreate that here.


The plants used are all from the Big & Red & Hot PlantPlot scheme, the palm leaf shape is echoed with the phormiums, you have big tall pokers in an reddy/orange and really warm dark red flowers lower down. It is not a design for those houses that want to blend in with the rest, but plant this design and you can guarantee your house get’s noticed!

Pot Collections!

Small Garden Design: Get your Pots right!


pot collections


Not everyone likes cutting grass or wants the perceived work load of lots of plants, so a few pots are a good  alternative for many people, but there are ways to ‘do’ pots and ways not to.


Here the pots are arranged in a loose ten pin bowling arrangement, there is a mix of wooden planters, plastic and blue pots each containing one plant. 


Now I actually subscribe to the ‘one plant in a pot idea’ as I would prefer to have one good looking plant as opposed to several occupying a small space (which means I need to water and feed them all religiously to keep it looking lovely – and I usually forget too!), but the plant also has to be in proportion to the pot, and here they all look a little small.  So how to improve this?


Firstly, just like redecorating a room, decide on a colour scheme for plants and for the pots, with the stone and paving here, darker coloured pots contrast well, the palest terracotta colour doesn’t really stand out.  I could use the pale pot colour, but ensure the plants were bold, that way the plant is the feature and not the pot, or all the pots could be the same colour but different styles for interest. 


The key is to have a plan, so let’s assume I am going to use the darker blue for all the pots. The colour scheme for the plants can be either  pastel and cool or bold and bright, but not both!  In this instance I will choose bright and bold (as the stones are quite pale), choose two flower colours you like and buy plants only in those colours.


Tulips in pots

I know these are in a lovely garden, but it’s the effect I want you to look at.

In this instance I would like red and purples as it will stand out against the stones.  Do consider bulbs as well as one plant per pot, so tulips for example can happily sit under a plant and pop up in spring for extra interest. 


Lastly positioning, sorry but the skittle style of arranging is not a good one, group the pots in 3’s or 5’s or all together (this also makes watering easier), put plants that look good together in each group and it will look so much better!


Miscanthus are grasses, but don’t think these are little things that the mower should run over, there are over 50 varieties of this beautiful plant.


They generally grow at least 4ft (1.5m) tall, a few are shorter and some can easily get to 10ft (3m) tall. The range of colours is immense, green, yellow, stripy, one with pink tassels, white tassels, some that turn red and orange in the Autumn.


Grasses can look a little untidy, but so does my sitting room occasionally,  I tidy that up, so why not pop outside and pick up any broken bits?


Anyway, what I love most is the swishy noise when the wind blows through – so if you live by a noisy road, hedges do muffle the sound of the cars, but Miscanthus adds a far more relaxing note to the tune of life.

miscanthus morning light

Geum Mrs Bradshaw

I am a little unusual in that I am the only person on the planet (I think) who doesn’t like the smell of sweet peas, however I haven’t yet met anyone who doesn’t like geums, especially the red one, Mrs Bradshaw. 


This little innocuous plant, just sits in the ground, looking frankly, a bit run of the mill, but in Spring up come these flower spikes, and then it bursts into flower with lots of scarlet pom poms. 


You can plant loads and loads of these, as they work like little in-fills in the ground, but the sea of red they make is just lovely. They never seem to get eaten by bugs or get diseases, they just flower year after year, they are  bunch of happy little cheerleaders!