Friday, June 27, 2014

Orange Is The New White aka Ursinia Anthemoides 'Solar Fire'


      Often when one mentions that a particular flower is bright orange, the first reaction of many gardeners is to recoil in horror.  I think this reaction is based first on the idea that used to be prevalent in garden writing that white and pastel gardens were tasteful, and that bright colors were low class, and second, on the idea that colors could be viewed in isolation, instead of being viewed in a painterly way, i.e., how a particular color contributes to the scene one is trying to create.  I should also state that I am not trying to be a color Nazi--anything I say about color is merely a reflection of my own taste.  I think everyone is entitled to their own taste when it comes to color.  There is no right or wrong in picking color--it is just what one finds to be attractive.
     With that said, what I am describing here is how I go about using color in the garden.  As it happens, and as regular readers of this blog probably know, I like bright colors that are (if you are familiar with photoshop) in the CMYK color space.  This means that I like saturated color that consists of lemony yellows, clear oranges, bright pinks/magentas, turqouise blues, and purples.  Since I like saturated colors, I don't like to use whites or pastels in my compositions.  I also don't like to use reds that are not on the pink side of the color wheel, and I don't like to use navy type blues. but clear sky blues are acceptable.  As for yellows, while I prefer lemon yellows to more orangy yellows, any type of saturated yellow is acceptable in a compostion.
     I should also say something here about the use of greens in my compositions.  When I first started gardening, and for a long time afterwords, I was enamored of variegated plants.  I have now mostly gotten over that, and the reason has mainly to do with how variegated plants 'read' in a compostiion.  White variegated plants often read as white, and, since I don't like to use white,  I have basically concluded that the white variegated plants, although individually attractive in many cases, do not enhance the garden pictures I am trying to create. So I stopped using them.  Yellow variegated plants, on the other hand, can read as yellow, and therefore, are more acceptable.  However, I have found that even they should be used in moderation, or else there will be too much yellow in the garden.   The same goes for yellow foliage plants--use them in moderation or the garden may OD on yellow.  As for red foliage,  I think that some in moderation is OK, but the brighter the red the better--otherwise, the eye just sees a dark dead space when it rests upon that foliage.  In my compositions, I like the vast majority of foliage to be bright green.  I find that that color is the background for everything else, and it sets off the other colors I like to use best.
     Anyway, this brings us to orange and Ursinia anthemoides 'Solar Fire'.  This is a plant that I was first introduced to by Annie's Annuals.  Their description of it is here.  This is a South African native, and you can read more about it at the Plantzafrica website here.  That site and also the Silverhill Seeds site (a seed company specializing in South African seeds) seem to indicate that the color of the flowers of Ursinia anthemoides can vary somewhat, but the plants we have grown all seem to be the bright orange seen in the pictures above.  Which is a good thing, in my opinion.  By the way, we grew our Heronswood plants from seed we got from Outsidepride, and I would recommend them as a source--they send a lot of seed in a packet, in a timely manner, and it germinated well.
     These Ursinias have these bright orange daisy flowers which bloom for a very long time above attractive ferny foliage.  As is evident from the pictures above, they seem to go well with all other colors in the Potager, and indeed, they seem to make those other colors pop.  And that is why I titled this blog entry 'Orange Is The New White'!  It used to be that writers on color in the garden always spouted the nonsense that one had to have white in the garden in order to have a place to 'rest the eyes'.  What does that even mean?  How many paintings or other works of art require white as a place to 'rest the eyes'?  If you need such a place (and I doubt that you do) isn't the orange of Ursinia anthemoides 'Solar Fire' a much better resting place?

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