In the Garden:
Coastal and Tropical South
April, 2008
Regional Report

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Orange shades, some with darker veination, mark the warm 'Superbells Tequila Sunrise', which is a Calibrachoa hybrid.

The Power of Orange

Orange can be prominent in our gardens as well as in our lunch boxes and fruit baskets. The color orange creates instant warm spots, whether it is a pot of surfinia in the courtyard, crossandra by the door, or a stand of African marigolds in the herb garden. This color with no rhyme has plenty of reason to stand out. First used in English in the 18th century, the word itself is associated with the sun, deep desire, and exuberant flamboyance. Just like a persimmon tree brightens a gray autumn day.

Orange is located on the color wheel between the primary colors red and yellow and is a blend of the two. It lies opposite azure blue, which is its natural color companion in garden design, as well as in the visual arts. In the garden, orange offers heightened contrast with blues, purples, and white; it harmonizes well with yellow; and surprisingly it holds its own with rose pink and red.

Growing Orange
Leaves, flowers, and fruit give gardeners a chance to add orange in every part of the garden and at any height desired. Cape honeysuckle can climb more than 20 feet, its voluptuous orange flower clusters capturing the attention of passersby as surely as the orange shields and crests of old Europe. From painted coleus leaves to justicia, lantana, the orange trumpet vine that transforms my mood every spring, and summer's zinnias, orange takes to sunny beds. But orange impatiens, narcissus cups, and tulips can paint a shady bed, as well. For orange fruit, citrus is an obvious choice, along with orange pyracantha, yaupon, and persimmon.

Multipurpose Orange Peel
Besides attracting orioles, besides putting the zest in so many dishes and the zing in potpourri, besides being the national color of Holland and Ireland's famous order, orange fruit offers something extra special. Its smell, peel texture, and oily residue have useful pesticide and repellent applications. My grandmother sprinkled orange peels around the trash cans outside to keep out the cats, and citrus peel is a common ingredient in such repellent products today. It is also reported that shredded peels spread on the soil surface will keep cats from digging into potted plants. While orange oils are not registered as pesticides, they are a common ingredient in popular recipes and products for controlling piercing and sucking insects.


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