Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Roses are RED. The use of red in the landscape.

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Rose garden at War Memorial Gardens Dublin
As it is Valentines Day today I thought it would be a good time to talk a little bit about one of my favourite colours to use in the landscape. The colour red.
Red has more personal associations than any other colour. Recognized as a stimulant, red is inherently exciting and the amount of red is directly related to the level of energy perceived. Red draws attention, and a keen use of red as an accent can immediately focus attention on a particular element. It also increases enthusiasm, stimulates energy and can increase the blood pressure, respiration, heartbeat, and pulse rate.
Iconic Red Bridges a common sight in Japanese and Chinese gardens
Photo by john tovey
Red encourages action and confidence and represents beauty in many languages and cultures.
In Chinese culture, colours corresponded with the five primary elements, the directions and the four seasons. Red was associated with fire, south, and summer.
In Japan, the colour red is associated closely with a few deities in Shinto and Buddhist traditions, so statues of these deities are often decked in red clothing or painted red.
Red Reed Bamboo Forest. Sculpture by Dale Chihuly. Photo by  Jeff Hamm
Red Door. Photo by Floren Arocena
Red is not just a great complementary colour to green, it also looks great with stone too.
Harbour Lighthouse, Howth, Co. Dublin. 
Photo by Glynn Williams from proyaltypics.com

Japanese Maple. Photo by David-Yu

Red ribbon park  photos by Kongjian Yu and Cao Yang

Photos & Stonework by Matthew Reilly of Country Landscapes
A few random facts about the colour red.

Red is the highest arc of the rainbow.
Red is the first colour you lose sight of at twilight.
The longest wavelength of light is red.
In the financial arena, red symbolizes a negative direction.
Feng shui recommends painting the front door of a home red to invite prosperity to the residents. 
Iconic red phone box in London 
Did you know bees can't see the colour red, but they can see all other bright colours? They can also see a colour we can’t: ultraviolet (UV). Since bees can’t see red, red flowers are pollinated in other ways, by bats, butterflies, birds, and the wind. Flowers that want to attract bees have colours that bees can see. Often, white flowers, which look plain to us, actually reflect UV light, so they look very pretty to the bees.

photo by Craig Richardson
Red is considered a warm colour in landscape design. Its appearance in the garden has an energetic effect. Red flowers and foliage give the illusion of coming forward in the landscape, helping to make a large garden feel cosier.Red plants attract the eye and are a good choice for areas you want to draw attention to. Red's complementary colour in the garden is green, but can also look great with colours like yellow.
Ooma in a red bucket before the black-eyed susans. Photo by Shannon Ross-Albers
Planting Red. Below are a few of my favorite reds for the garden:

Photo by Bluesrose
* Acer palmatum 'Osakazuki' * Hemerocallis  ‘Daylily’ * Fuchsia magellanica 'Riccartonii'
 * Callistemon ‘bottle brush’ * Canna ‘red king humbert’ * Lobelia fulgens  ‘Queen Victoria Lobelia’ * Dwarf Chenille Firetail ‘Acalypha reptans’ * Flame Creeper ‘Tropaeolum speciosum’ * Parthenocissus Quinquefolia * Chilean Flame Creeper ‘Tropaeolum speciosum’ * Bergenia ‘bressingham ruby’ * Photinia ’red robin’ * Japanese Blood Grass ‘Imperata rubra’ Red Baron * Carpet Rose, Scarlet * Salvia 'Lady in Red' * Red-twig dogwood ‘Cornus alba’ * Crocosmia masoniorum ‘Lucifer’ lucifer montbretia * Lychnis chalcedonica maltese cross * Rhododendron ‘Elizabeth’    rhododendron * Schizostylis coccinea ‘Major’  kaffir lily * Zinnia elegans ‘Dreamland Series’zinnia. 

West Cork's iconic Fuchsia magellanica on the drive up to Hagal Farm

The Dead Red Tree by Irish Landscape Designer Peter Donegan
In his blog, Landscape Designer and garden blogger Peter Donegan had a great solution to doing something about that 'old dead tree that you never got round to cutting down' and turned a dead tree into a great focal point in the planting bed by simply grabbing an old tin of outdoor wood paint from the garage and painting it red. 
A 3D garden design I did incorporating a red feature wall

Photo by Julie Therré
 Red Door by McCarthy's PhotoWorks      Garden Door by pearson_251
Red doors: I love you. Feng shui recommends painting the front door of a home red to invite prosperity to the residents.  

The red catwalk in Irish Landscape Designer Tim Austen's 'The Growise Garden' at the 2011 Bloom Garden Show

A good example of how effective red can be in landscape design is  Tim Austen's 'The Growise Garden' at the 2011 Bloom Garden Show In his blog, he talks about the eye catching catwalk in his design:

 "Alluding to the landscape change theme present in the garden, the boardwalk deliberately cuts across the center of the garden and is metaphorically a landscape fissure when the garden is viewed as a whole.  Its linear form also provides contrast with the other flowing forms and shapes used.

I deliberately chose the "Movie-Star" red colour to provide a strong colour contrast with other natural tones and textured finishes used in the garden.  The paint used in the boardwalk is Irish made (in Celbridge) by the really helpful people at ColorTrend and is water based so it is an environmentally friendly paint. Apparently, pilots of planes passing overhead en route from Dublin Airport could pick out the boardwalk quite easily"

You can Tim's full blog post here 

As it is Valentine's Day today I must also share my appreciation for my wonderful wife, who makes me happy every single day I am with her. Without her love and support I would not be the man I am today. Also without her, you probably wouldn’t be reading this blog either, as she edits all my blog posts, deciphering my poorly spelled, poorly structured words into legible blog posts. 

Thanks to everyone who contributed photographs to this post! Please take a moment to check out their pages by clicking on the links provided. 

Happy Valentine's Day everyone.


  1. I love the old red phone box, I have always had a thing about them. Think you may be interested in my latest post. Diane

  2. Happy Valentine's to you and your editor, from me and mine.

  3. How wonderful! Love this compilation of photos. Thanks and thanks also for sharing your thoughts.

  4. Lovely photos, thanks for sharing. Red is my absolute favourite colour, and not just any red, I like the dark red, almost blackish red. I once tried to make a whole flower bed of different types of red flowers, more difficult than I thought it would be, as a lot of flowers labelled red turned out to be slightly pink or purple. My favourite red rose is Crimson cascade.

  5. Wow..what a super beautiful post..I love the first red door photo!and very cool about the bees..thanks for another fab post..I love reds too!
    Happy V-day to you and your wife!

  6. Great post Sunny,

    nice compilation, have to say I love the old fuchsia's ;) and you have reminded me I haven't been near Howth in a long while....

    Best for now

  7. Nice post Sunny. Thanks for including me in it and turning me onto your blog. I have some catching up to do. Great list of red plants. It is so hard to find true red. I will have to include some in my garden.

  8. I found your information today really interesting. Never knew so much about the color red. Thanks. Some of that here l now use it in the Asian Patio Garden. May take it beyond that. jack

  9. Your photos have really done a good job convincing me that I need some red in my garden, preferably a door.

  10. Now I have to find a dead tree to paint red! Maybe I'll find several and paint them all different colors! Your photos have given some great inspiration for the use of red in the garden, but my favorite photo is the kitty in the red bucket!

  11. Couldn't agree more - the poppies are out and the roses just coming - so very exciting.

  12. "Rose garden at War Memorial Gardens Dublin" is it true? How beautiful it is! Who created this? He is really great designer. Thank you for this.

  13. wow the yello flowers witn bouquet of cat and a way which is full of flowers beauty both side of road.thanks for showing its pictures