Why Orange Blossoms Are Having A Moment

Their reported distribution was also very diverse, with the plant occurring both in the moist pine forests of the mountainous center of the island and in the dry scrubland to the east. The following year, the ‘Bella’ cultivar debuted at the Chelsea Flower Show, and the plant’s popularity grew. In fact, while interviewing designer and Chelsea veteran Andy Sturgeon about his latest show garden, our conversation drifted to Canarian foxgloves in his own garden and their particularly floriferous nature.

Last summer I purchased three ‘Bella’ plants from Suttons, and they produced only a few tantalizing blooms; this year – after a “green” winter – they are big flaming salamander torches. I just bought six more.

Taking advantage of their no-fuss attitude to the environment, I had planted the foxgloves in the shade and shade of a huge London plane tree that towers over the dry garden. This, combined with our free-draining soil, leaves this area devoid of moisture, but overall the foxgloves didn’t care.

As an experiment (and at the risk of Sturgeon’s advice), I pinched off half of the flowering shoots in April, and the result was an almost quadruple bloom, all blooming by early May. This coincided with the neighboring arrows of creamy yellow Sisyrinchium striatum. Either way, digitals now provide the space with an eye-catching accent – ​​a necessary statement among the money.

This episode of midsummer orange continues the theme of color through the seasons in the dry garden. In the spring, there were the multi-headed stems of ‘Shogun’ (what a tulip); before these, the robust crocus, ‘Orange Monarch’. Summer has seen the satiny petals of the bright California poppy, and in about a month we will have a second wave of orange Atlas poppy, Papaver rupifragum var. atlanticum – a tall, elegant variety that came to me as a seed from landscape gardener Jane Brockbank.

Atlanticum was a favorite of mid-century artist-planter Cedric Morris, a connoisseur of botanical color and form, so the plant is of excellent pedigree. Our Atlanticums are now self-seeding across space, forming large, deep-rooted perennial clumps.

Before offering a list of other recommended oranges, I will concede that our Digitalis isabelliana ‘Bella’, California and Atlas poppies would not “jump” so much without the company of certain foliage plants also adapted to dry conditions. As a backdrop, common rosemary offers a dark green leaf, while Juniperus ‘Grey Owl’ offers a hazy, glaucous sheen.

Teucrium fruticans – the classic dry garden shrub – is Canarian foxglove’s best friend (provided it’s never cut into a ball!) and, true to the surprising diversity of Gran Canaria’s flora, Agave americana is also a happy collision.

Either way, gardening is fundamentally about experimentation, and with experimentation comes the weird firecracker: maybe it’s time you tried the orange?

Matt Collins is head gardener at the Garden Museum in London. Follow Matt on Instagram: @museum_gardener


In the dry garden

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