The colour red brings warmth and depth to a garden. The tones from intense fire red to deep blood red offers flexibility to manage the attention this colour commonly demands.
Within the plant kingdom, there are flowers and foliage that supply red either seasonally or year round.
Red may also be added to invigorate a landscape with the use of red outdoor furniture, cushions, pots, colour bricks, concrete or bitumen, colour stones and even red painted fences and walls.
If over done, red can make an area uncomfortable. It is safer to use red by limiting those items of that colour so that contrast is achieved.
Red is also attractive to birdlife that specialise in nectar and fruit. If you wish to enhance your native wildlife aim to plant bottlebrushes (Callistemon), flame tree (Brachychiton) and lillypillies (Syzygium).
The home gardener can achieve year round effects with foliage that produce colour variations of red such as:-
Blood leaf (Iresine)
Crotons (Codiaeum variegatum)
Nandina domestica ‘Nana’
However most landscapers and gardeners will think about flowers when referring to colour. Flowers are usually seasonal which means they may not last several months, however careful selection may result in year round flowers.
Possible shrubs to consider for red flowers are:-
Brazilian red cloak (Megaskepasma)
Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima)
Powderpuff Lillypilly (Syzygium wilsonii)
Red flowering bulbous plants announce a festival of seasonal colour and activities:-
Climbers should not be overlooked as these plants can fill in where space is limited such as along the boundary fence. When in flower a climber over an arbour or pergola will raise the eyes upwards providing an impression of height to the garden space.
Potential red flowering climbers include:-
Bleeding heart (Clerodendrum splendens)
Cardinal creeper (Ipomoea horsfalliae)
New Guinea Creeper (Mucuna bennettii)
Scarlet passionflower (Passiflora coccinea)
Indoor plants and collectable plants with red include:-
Lipstick plant (Aeschynanthus)
Desert rose (Adenium obesum)
When viewing a suburb from a distance it is the tree which will stand out from all surrounding vegetation if it is in full bloom. Trees will bloom with flowers either on the outer branches maximising flower exposure, or they will bloom with flowers protected by surrounding foliage and tucked into the canopy of the tree. Stunning red flowering trees include:-
Coral tree (Erythrina)
Corymbia ‘Summer Red’
Drunken parrot tree (Schotia brachypetala)
Flame tree (Brachychiton acerifolius)
Frangipani (Plumeria rubra)
Tree waratah (Alloxylon flammeum)
Written by Paul Plant, FAIH, freelance garden and landscape writer