‘Poco Orange’ Red Hot Poker. The Poco series comes in pure colors from lemon yellow all the way to dark red. (Terra Nova Nurseries)

‘Poco Orange’ Red Hot Poker. The Poco series comes in pure colors from lemon yellow all the way to dark red. (Terra Nova Nurseries)

Warmer weather means brighter, hotter colors in the garden

Here are seven plants that will bring a blazing pop of color to your outdoor spaces.

“And in the seventh and eighth month of the year, God created red, orange, and yellow”

— the Gospel according to the Whistling Gardener.

Summer wouldn’t be what it is if it wasn’t for the hot, passionate side of the color spectrum that contains red, orange and yellow. It makes the long slog through the wet and grey days of spring all worth it.

As much as I enjoy the cooler pastels of my early blooming Japanese Iris and peonies and the blues of the delphiniums, it’s the parade of warmer tones that really gets me excited in the summer.

As the sun gets brighter, these colors just pop. Whether it’s a drift of African marigolds or state fair zinnias, or a tasteful arrangement of hardy perennials, combining plants in the warm colors just screams out “SUMMER” to me.

Here is a sample of several plants that caught my eye as I walked through the nursery’s tables of summer blooming perennials. Pick out a few for your garden and watch the mercury rise.

‘Poco Orange’ Red Hot Poker: The Poco series of red hot pokers are a vast improvement over the old ‘Kandy Korn’ varieties. They are longer bloomers and more compact and come in pure colors from lemon yellow all the way to dark red. ‘Poco Orange’ reminds me of Kraft macaroni and cheese on a stick. Not a great look for mac and cheese, but fantastic in the summer garden.

Crocosmia ‘George Davidson’: These perennials are sometimes referred to as montbretia, but regardless of the nomenclature, they are the consummate summer bloomer and a total magnet for hummingbirds and butterflies. ‘George’ is a lovely buttery yellow, but there are many others that lean to the even warmer tones of orange and red. Newer forms are more compact and don’t flop like the older ‘Lucifer’ variety.

‘Sunset Orange’ and ‘Solanna Sunset Burst’ Coreopsis: These thread-leaf tick seed perennials are a riot of colors on bushy compact plants that don’t need deadheading. They just keep blooming all summer long.

‘Kudos Red’ Agastache: Monrovia nurseries has this to say about it: “This prolific new compact hybrid has an impeccable habit, increased hardiness, improved disease resistance, and tolerance of wet, cold soils!” It looked great on our perennial tables, so I am thinking I should find a spot for a few.

Helenium ‘Short and Sassy’: Helen’s flower is one of my favorite summer blooming perennials. I have several varieties in my garden, some of which are already showing some colors while others won’t bloom until closer to September. ‘Short and Sassy’ has daisy-like flowers with petals of bright orange and gold surrounding a chocolate-brown cone.

Gaillardia ‘Sunset Celebration’: Known as blanket flowers, these guys are tough as nails despite their soft and somewhat floppy nature. This selection features rich red flowers that bloom from late spring right up to frost if deadheaded.

Amistad’ Salvia: As a contrast to all these wonderfully warm colors, I like to throw in some rich purple flowers and the absolute best in my book is the annual ‘Amistad’ salvia. Pair it up with a hot orange Asiatic lily and it is a drop-dead gorgeous combination.

If your garden isn’t sizzling with hot reds and oranges and yellows then it’s probably time for you to hot-foot it down to your favorite garden center and check out all the wonderful choices they have available. Whether its non-stop blooming zinnias and marigolds that get tossed out at the end of the season or hardy perennials that come back year after year, summertime is planting time so turn up the heat in your garden and celebrate summer with the hot stuff!

Steve Smith represents Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville and can be reached at sunnysidenursery@msn.com

Free classes

Sunnyside’s next free in-nursery classes are “Perennials & Pollinators” at 10 a.m. July 30 and “Useful Native Plants” at 11 a.m. July 31. The nursery is located at 3915 Sunnyside Blvd., Marysville.

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