This Month's Color in the Garden: December 2016-The Power of Red in the Landscape

The Power of Red in the Garden Clockwise Left to Right: Dahlia, Landscape Architectural Element, Dahlia, Winterberry and Knock Out Rose (center)
In landscape design and architecture, the color red tends to dominate when compared to other colors. Red tends to make a strong, dramatic statement and creates an illusion of boldness and depth. Red can be used to brighten a space in all seasons, including winter, with the incorporation of architectural elements or perhaps some berry producing shrubs in the garden against a white snowy background. Red foliage creates striking contrast in spring throughout fall, and red flowers, especially tubular-shaped ones, are an attraction to hummingbirds and other pollinators. The color red will have a lot more impact in your garden when used sparingly, and is nicely complemented by the the color green, which is considered neutral.

Nandina domestica berries
Examples of red blooms in the landscape include Red Knock Out Rose, Tulips, Peony, Zinnia, Dahlia and Lobelia cardinalis (Cardinal flower). Red berry producing plants include Nandina domestica, Winterberry, Holly, Skimmia and some varieties of viburnum. Plants exhibiting red or maroon foliage include Heuchera ‘Palace Purple’ (Coral Bells), Weigela Spilled Wine, and annuals such as Coleus, Impatiens and Begonia. The most prominent red in the garden that keeps coming to mind is that of the traditional red rose.

Red Knock Out Rose ‘Radrazz’
Roses have been grown throughout civilization and are a timeless tradition, speaking the language of love, beauty, courage and respect. Historical evidence shows they were grown in China about 5,000 years ago, and have carried their special meaning ever since. A deep red rose can be used to convey heartfelt regret and sorrow. or twelve red roses conveys “Be mine” and “I love you. The red rose began its history during Greek and Roman times, where it was tied to Aphrodite, or Venus, the mythical goddess of love, who was often seen with roses around her head and covering her feet and neck. The red rose throughout time has symbolized an immortal love that could never fade, even through time or death. In early Christianity, the rose became associated with the virtue of Virgin Mary and in the Tarot it has been considered a symbol of balance, promise, new beginnings, and hope. In Shakespeare’s writings, roses had become a poetic standard throughout his works. Throughout its history, the red rose continues to hold its status as the ultimate symbol of affection. Other flowers and their meanings include red Amaryllis, a statement of splendid beauty and pride, red aster which symbolizes patience, Anthurium symbolizing happiness and hospitality and poinsettia symbolizing good cheer and success. 

Architectural Elements Old Westbury Mansion Long Island
In landscape architecture the color red is often used to draw attention or create a focal point, as in the use of red brick for walkways, labyrinths, benches or perhaps some red Adirondack chairs to highlight a sitting area. Estate gardens are known for their mass plantings of red tulips, dahlias and rose covered arbors. In color theory, red tends to make a space look smaller and can be used to make a large space seem more intimate. Red brick also brings to mind thoughts of mansions from colonial time, and can be implemented in modern day to create an old world feel. 
Clockwise Left to Right: Red Knock Out Rose, Dahlia, Tulips, Nandina ‘domestica’, Amaryllis (center)

Do you have any design or architectural elements in your space that are red and if you do, when and where are they most prominent? I invite you to share whatever shades of red you have going on in your garden in the comments below, whether it be in the form of plants or otherwise. I hope you enjoyed “This Month’s Color in the Garden”. I’m already thinking about next month’s theme, which is the color white! Next up is Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day & Foliage Follow-Up on the 15th. and Color Our World Round Up on the 30th. 
For more on Garden Design-My Books on Amazon:

A Guide to Northeastern Gardening
Landscape Design Combinations

As Always…Happy Gardening!

Author: [email protected] Guide to Northeastern Gardening, © Copyright 2016. All rights reserved.