orange and red flowers

by Master Gardener Jan Phipps

March is a good month to plan changes you want to make to your gardens. While contemplating those changes, give color some thought. I read an interesting article in The American Gardener magazine written by Jan Johnsen. According to her, perceptions and feelings change with varying colors. Also, how we see color changes with the time of day and the season. What looks delightful in the sun’s lesser intensity during spring and mornings like pastels, may seem faded in afternoons and high summer when the angle of the sunlight is more intense. Conversely, strong colors like orange can seem garish in muted light but stand up well to the harsh sunlight of summer afternoons.

Green, the predominant garden color is restful and therapeutic. No wonder being out in nature is so calming and restorative.  Even planting gardens for the colors of the flowers will still yield plenty of green.

To keep your spirit and energy levels high, add some yellow. It catches the eye. That explains why yellow daffodils are so welcome in spring. They give us a needed punch of energy after the lethargy of a long winter.

For something stimulating during the glare of an unrelenting sun, plant orange. It is bright enough to not wash out no matter how strong the sunlight. Besides, butterflies like orange and we like butterflies.

Blue revitalizes and white seems to glow especially in the evenings. White flowers are visible in the moonlight when every other color is unrecognizable. Another advantage to white is its crispness of form. Even from a distance, you can see its shape instead of just a dollop of color.

Red pops, drawing your attention. Like orange, it retains its vibrancy even in bright sunlight. Bees can’t see red so red flowers are pollinated by birds, butterflies, hummingbirds, and the wind.

If you love pastels, choose plants that flower in the spring. For all summer bloomers like annuals, plant them on the north or east side where the sun is less intense.

For the brighter flowers like orange and red, put them on the south and west, choosing varieties that bloom in mid and late summer. Yellow goes anywhere, anytime.

Unless you have a cold frame or hoop tunnels, March is too early to plant outside, which is probably a good thing because the ground is usually too wet to work. If you have a gardening question, call the Illinois Extension Master Gardeners of Edgar County at 217-465-8585 and leave a message.