Today is brought to you… by the colour orange

Orange is not my favourite colour. In this, I am unlike the bride who wore an orange wedding gown and themed her wedding on orange and brown.  I mentally walked through every room in our house and there is no orange to be seen. Not a skerrick. And the only orange item in my wardrobe is a faded tee shirt. Clearly, orange is not a colour that I relate to in daily life.

But as late autumn draws in, the orange outside is very cheering. On Monday, I thought I must get out and photograph the dwarf Japanese maple that turns its raiment from modest green to blazing orange as winter approaches.

The day was grey with the sun attempting to break through, a light so unusual here that I also photographed it. I have only been to the UK once in December and I remember a similar light on the day we visited the Russell Page garden at Leeds Castle. The difference is that here, the sun did indeed come out and shine brightly – if intermittently – as the day progressed while my UK family said that was as good as it got there, closing in on the shortest day.

I became entirely focused on orange. Mind you, it is hard to ignore it as the citrus trees flaunt their wares. We are blessed to have a climate where we can grow citrus and also to have inherited a garden where the trees have large been included in the wider garden, rather than confined to an orchard situation. Citrus are both decorative and functional. I  once wrote a fairly lengthy piece on growing citrus in our conditions if any readers in less traditional citrus areas are interested.

Vireya Rhododendron macgregoriae flowers like clockwork, as it has for nigh on sixty years now. That is a seriously advanced age for a vireya, which are not generally long lived, and this particular plant has a place in our family history, having been collected in the wild by Mark’s father, Felix, back in 1957. Orange is a common colour in vireyas and we have a number of other hybrids also in flower at the time. None mass flower like the species R. macgregoriae. It is a trade-off, I think. You can have either prolonged blooming over many months or mass flowering, but not both. At least when it comes to vireyas.

The maples and the flowering cherry trees produce many hues of orange and tend to colour in late autumn for us – or early winter as it is now. June usually feels autumnal for us, July is the bleakest month of winter and by August, we are bursting into spring growth and bloom. We really shouldn’t complain about a winter that is effectively about six or eight weeks in duration.

The first of the clivias are in bloom – looking a bit pink in this image but more soft orange in real life. I asked Mark which one this is and he thinks it is C. gardenii. It is nowhere near as showy as the C. miniata selections and some of the hybrids. But as I think an abundance of bright orange clivias can lead to the NABOC syndrome (Not Another Bloody Orange Clivia), the understated charm of this one pleases me.

The orange tones of autumn shone through the grey day. I looked around and thought yes! There is a time and a place for orange. It is in autumn and winter.




10 thoughts on “Today is brought to you… by the colour orange

  1. sarahnorling2014

    Lovely photos! I quite like using flashes of orange in planting schemes, in the right locations. It works well with blues/purples and holds up well in our strong light. About to start a plan for a house where they’ve put orange as a highlight on the paint work, so the garden will be ‘talking’ to that. Agree it’s best kept outside though, I’m not ready to return to the 70’s.

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      I had forgotten about the orange, mustard, purple and turquoise horrors of the 70s and early 80s when it came to interior design. I think orange can work brilliantly with purples and burgundies but in moderation. Orange is so very… orangely dominant. I have a few lovely photos of orange with such colours. I think it helps to leave yellows out in that case and just keep to the oranges.

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      Agreed – one of the bonuses of living in a mild climate. At least we don’t have to put our gardens to bed for a long winter.

  2. tonytomeo

    I have never seen that clivia! The yellow Clivia miniata rather annoys me because it became so trendy when it was rare, but is now so common that the orange is rare. We have many of the yellow at work, where the orange would have been so much prettier. I do not like orange either, but it works in some situations, and happens to look good against the dark green of redwoods.

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      Masses of yellow clivia can look a bit insipid, IMO. But put a yellow one amongst orange and red ones and they all sing.

      1. tonytomeo

        Ha! That is what I thought! I happen to dislike our yellow clivia because they are below deep green redwoods, where brighter colors would look better. I would never replace them though. The foliage is really nice, and I am sure than many people appreciate the soft yellow.

      2. tonytomeo

        Because it is a large area, I would want to sneak in a few, and I do not like to add anything to spots where I should be more concerned with removing something. If I happened to obtain a large clump of orange or red clivias, I could do so, but that will not likely happen.

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