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Anne K Moore
Photographs Anne K Moore

Red, orange, and yellow can be loud, soft, or gentle depending on the combination in the flower head or in the garden placement.

When found together in a flower, these colors can pull the eye from afar. “Look at me,” they almost scream. If you want a garden bed in the front yard that catches attention, these are the colors to use. Fifty-five mile an hour flowers we sometimes call them, because passers-by cannot help but see the bright blobs of color.

If you have the room in a sunny spot, put in a bed of Canna ‘Pretoria’ also known as ‘Bengal Tiger’. The leaves are bright green striped in yellow and the flowers are bright (some might say gaudy) orange. These canna lilies will reach five feet tall and taller with their flower stalks at the top. You can leave them in the ground through the winter in USDA Zones 7-10 but you should dig and store the rhizomes away from freezing temperatures in zones 4-6.

Combine the Bengal Tigers with red or pink and yellow blooming lantanas such as ‘Miss Huff,’ ’Irene,’ or ‘Luscious Citrus Blend.’ These will spread out and flower all summer at the tigers’ feet. Just remember to give yourself room to reach the canna flower stalks since they will require deadheading to keep the flowers looking fresh. Only cut off the canna flower heads on their own little stem, not the whole flower stalk at the top. The flower heads keep developing from that main stalk all summer. Just remove the old flowers. Lantanas are self-cleaning and do not require any special grooming. They might need some trimming back if they get too rambunctious and fan out of their allotted space.

Lantanas are often sacrificed to the compost pile when they needn’t be. They are very slow to come out in the spring. They do love their weather hot. Don't trim them back until all threats of heavy frost or freeze are past. Then just trim them back to new sprouts. Even if they freeze, they will often come back from the roots in zones 7-8 and will be evergreen in zones 9-11.

These brilliant flowers draw in not just passers-by but butterflies and hummingbirds, too. These lovely creatures dance on the breeze and give life and movement to a static landscape. Add the color and life will show up, kind of “If you build it, they will come” scenario.

Posted January 25, 2013

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