‘Orange has no place in a garden.’

A few years ago, I had an acquaintance – well, a friend of a friend, really – who was fond of sweeping generalisations. After a while I gave up arguing with statements like ‘women’s voices sound funny when they sing’ and ‘only a fool reads a book more than once’, and took to collecting them instead.

One of the treasured items in my collection is ‘orange has no place in a garden’, which I was told, in a disapproving and firm tone, while we were doing a tour of my (then new) garden. There wasn’t much to look at – it was about this time of year – but there was a lot of crocosmia. And I mean a lot.

If I tried to eradicate orange from my garden, I’d have my work cut out. Not only do I still have the dreaded crocosmia:

(still lots of it), I have also deliberately added calendulas and nasturtiums.

I make no apologies whatsoever for including yet another marigold mugshot. I can’t get over how free they are of blackfly this year – mind you, I suppose something has to compensate me for the depredations of slugs, snails, wind, blight, eelworms and everything else that is treating my garden as a playground-cum-buffet.

But there are all the wildflowers as well, and the berries. I’ve had a lot more orange hawkweed in the meadow this year than I anticipated – I’m back in compensation territory with this – and my rowan tree has orange berries rather than red.

Was I supposed to eradicate these as well?

And what about the garden visitors? Wildlife, that is, not friends of friends with a penchant for pithy advice…

wildlife like this Red Admiral, which was zooming around the veg patch earlier. It had paused, as if to emphasise the point about the surprising ubiquity of orange, on one of the marigolds – but I couldn’t persuade it to sit still and have its portrait taken.

And then there’s the orange which is present in parts of a flower, like the stamens of a lily (mine are just beginning to open) or the centre of a narcissus:

complete with resting Orange Tip (which would also be on borrowed time if I took any notice of the instructions I was given)… Impossible. Out with it.

You can’t control everything in a garden. I’ve tried, at points in the past, and it doesn’t work. It does your head in because you’re doomed to defeat, and it’s completely unsustainable. At least I recognise the impossibility of getting rid of all that crocosmia. Not that I want to: orange most emphatically has a place in my garden, and it always will.

I guess this is sort of orange. Ish:

My first tomato, with secateurs for scale. I should really have pruned this ‘king tomato’ out, but I didn’t. It’s a Black Russian and weighed in at 560g, just beating the half kilo Black Russian from 2009, and is being made into roast tomato passata right now. Yum.


21 Comments Add yours

  1. chortle – well plenty of orange in my garden – and although I was firmly in the “no orange or yellow in my garden” several years ago – I am now rather fond of it. Although I have got rid of a lot of the Crocosmia … I have kept one clump for sentimantal reasons, as my gran loved it, of course it was still called Monbretia then. I think I have your blackfly, if you would care to come and get them? ….

    1. kate says:

      Ha – my blackfly are still happily eating my non-trailing nasturtiums (I’ve counted each one), so I’m quite confident that the blackfly in your garden are your very own… (and no, I don’t want any extras, thanks)

  2. Mo says:

    I’ve always thought that any colour goes with green, simply because Mother Nature proves it to be so all the time 😉
    Magnificent tomato!

    1. kate says:

      I’m with you on that. I can’t think of a colour that doesn’t work, though I do have views on girly-girly pink…

      Big Tom tasted great. Double yum!

  3. I found blackfly on my achillea yesterday. I’ll send them over, just so that you can complete the set 😉 I used to hate orange in the garden, and yellow (apart from daffs). And pink. Now I am happy to have all of them, jostling together like a bunch of unruly kids in search of attention. Your friend of a friend sounds like good amusement value. That tomato is extraordinary, I am jealous!

    1. kate says:

      I hate to say this, but I am not at home to Mr Blackfly. Not even if it does complete a set! Mind you, before blight hit the spuds I might have considered an eelworms for blackfly deal, but I’m just not innerested now, 😉

      I’m still trying to resist baby pink but events are conspiring against me, and the monarda I thought was red – well, that’s what its label told me – has turned out to be pink. Joy. (Actually, it’s not that bad. Can’t believe I wrote that.)

  4. Hah! The slippery slope starts here…

  5. Harriet says:

    Hooray for orange in the garden and ordered chaos! Still no blight or blackfly but another ******* cutworm demolished more lettuces overnight. Now that’s really something that has no place in a garden.
    Great looking tomato!

    1. kate says:

      Now cutworm I haven’t got. Phew – at lest there’s something!
      (Mind you, they’re probably all heading in my direction now I’ve said this, probably a rather rash statement…….. agh)

  6. easygardener says:

    Your blackfly are sitting on my Dahlia though I must say the Dahlia looks completely unconcerned. Luckily the foliage is dark so I can’t see them unless I look closely, which I don’t..
    I only get tired of yellow in spring when every other flower seems to be yellow but I’m fine with it the rest of the year. Otherwise any colour is fine by me, orange included!

    1. kate says:

      They’re not my blackfly specifically, I’m quite prepared to share them around! Glad your dahlia is quite OK – I must plant more things with dark foliage (though I have just cut a slug in half – not deliberately, mind; didn’t see it on a dark lettuce, don’t want anyone to think I’ve gone completely mad)…

  7. Orange… no place… djj a wha??? *speechless*

    1. kate says:

      Quite! What else can you expect from somebody who thought people who re-read books were stupid? Argh….

  8. Janet says:

    Each to their own. Even our terribly, terribly tasteful very green garden is allowing in hints of yellow and orange. Life would be too boring otherwise…

    1. kate says:

      Wouldn’t it though? And like you, my garden is fundamentally green (well, and beige now that the meadow grasses are going over), and I love the sharp bright contrast of orange. Never thought I’d feel so strongly!

  9. My garden has lots of orange – eremurus at the moment, an orange cosmos waiting in the wings and lots and lots of marigolds. I love them too. Partly because they grow for me and not everything does but I would love them anyway. They are supposed to be contrasting with red orache but the red orache has stayed tiny and the marigolds are huge.

    1. kate says:

      I’m with you completely – some of the things I’d like to be able to grow just will not flourish and I have to be realistic, but boy do those marigolds flourish. And they’re so cheerful – I defy anyone to be gloomy in the face of all that fab colour and boundless enthusiasm. They’re sort of Tigger plants, really…. now there’s an idea…. wonder what Eeyore is?

  10. Joan says:

    I love crocosmia – spear shape leaves AND that lovely orangey red flower. If you ever have too many throw them up the road…..

    1. kate says:

      They’re lovely, aren’t they? But be warned — I will be taking you at your word!

  11. Juliet says:

    Orange is my favourite flower colour, and sweeping generalisations really wind me up, so I’m glad I don’t know your friend of a friend! It’s p*nk which has no place in MY garden, but I’m perfectly prepared to accept that other people like it.

    I often cut slugs in half – not mad at all, perfectly sensible, it means I can leave them in the garden for the birds and they won’t crawl off and eat my plants.

    1. kate says:

      (Sweeping generalisations can be entertaining, but even so I’m glad that person’s just a friend once removed, as it were – silly eejit.)
      I’m with you on what the daughter of a friend calls ‘the p word’ but alarmingly seem to have quite a bit of it… and how can you do that? Slugs are bad enough without bisecting them – erghhhhhh!

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