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Posted on Sun. Jun. 22, 2014 - 12:01 am EDT

Put color in your garden

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Want to be seen as a hip and trendy gardener?

Incorporate some radiant orchid into your plantings.

Radiant orchid, described as “a captivating purple,” reigns as the Color of the Year for 2014, according to the shade arbiters at Pantone, who say the hue is fused from “an enchanting harmony of fuchsia, purple and pink undertones.”

True to its moniker, radiant orchid is that bright purplish-pink you see in phalaenopsis orchids. Or, for those more acquainted with less-exotic species, it’s the color of thistles springing into bloom in fallow fields.

Pantone officials say the color should “intrigue the eye and spark the imagination,” inspire creativity and confidence and emanate “great joy, love and health.”

Still local folks haven’t exactly been flocking to get the color, local garden center operators say.

Marla McAfee, at McNamara Florist and Garden Center, 4322 DeForest Ave., off Bluffton Road, says a steady diet of radiant orchid might be a bit much in a garden. But it makes for a good pop of color.

“It’s a little different color, but it’s a pretty accent color. It’s also fairly neutral in terms of blending with other things.

“It tends to harmonize well with about anything – pinks, white, yellows, soft oranges, deep purples. Red is just about the only thing you might want to avoid.”

McAfee says there’s a wide variety of annual flowers that come in the shade, or something close to it.

One that’s pretty much spot-on, she says, is a Wave petunia variety called Misty Lilac.

Others include Purple-Veined Supertunia petunias and a Calibrachoa variety called Miss Lilac. Some confuse the latter for a mini-petunia, but Calibrachoa are not genetically related to petunias, she says. All take nicely to containers and hanging baskets, McAfee says.

Other sunny annuals to consider are certain varieties of lantana and heliotrope which have purplish-pink flowers, McAfee says, or even some common zinnias.

For shady to part-sun spots, an impatiens variety, Blue Pearl, gives a bright orchid-y dose, as do some shades of Torenia, McAfee says.

Sometimes referred to as wishbone flower, Torenia even has a shape resembling an orchid, and its Catalina Pink variety is tinged with orchid and darker shades of purple.

Deb Zumbrun, at Arbor Farms Nursery, 12515 Coldwater Road, says gardeners also can look to perennials for a radiant orchid fix.

Garden phlox (Phlox paniculata) would be among the best bets, she says.

The spiky bloomers have small clusters of star-shaped flowers in bright orchid shades, are easy to grow and, planted in a drift, make great back borders, she says.

They’re good for fragrant cut flowers, as they’ll rebloom when cut back. Phlox also attracts hummingbirds and butterflies.

Indeed, she adds, the common butterfly bush (Buddleja davidii) is another orchid option. It grows tall and fast as a weed, and starts sprouting long drooping clusters of pinkish-purple flowers by midsummer that further brighten the garden with butterflies.

And, that trusty drought-tolerant perennial, purple coneflower, comes in orchid shades, Zumbrun says. She likes to team it with an Echinacea cousin, the Flamethrower variety, in sunset colors of yellow and orange.

Another teaming she likes: radiant orchid-like Hummelo betony with light yellow Coreoposis daisies.

Doug Hackbarth, owner of Broadview Florist & Greenhouses, 5409 Winchester Road, has more than a nod to radiant orchid in the window boxes filled with petunias gracing the second story of his business.

Broadview stocks some of the more exotic varieties – including cleome (spider flowers), angelonia (summer snapdragon), a pinkish-purple Coreopsis daisy, verbena and ivy geranium.

One of his most unusual specimens is a tall, shrub-like plant commonly known as a Mexican petunia (Ruellia Britoniana).

With striking dark brownish leaves setting off the purplish petunia-like flowers, the plant is stunningly different in appearance.

But it’s not hardy in northeast Indiana, Hackbarth says.

Still, if you cut the plant back to about a foot tall in the fall, you can bring it indoors as a houseplant for the winter. Next summer, it can go back outdoors – extra bang for the buck, he says.

Indeed, Hackbarth says he doesn’t put too much stock in color forecasts.

He thinks it may be next year that radiant orchid comes into its own locally, if ever.

“Some people stick with the tried-and-true” color schemes, he says. “People aren’t as fast to change as they might seem.”

McAfee agrees.

“I don’t know how much people tune in to that sort of thing ,” she says, “except maybe designers.”



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