Orangeare often difficult to deal with in furnishings or interior decorating schemes because they present problems of colour, shade and tone. Marigolds and nasturtiums are obvious examples and although these are excellent in their own way, they are sometimes unsympathetic in colour when asked to co-operate with softer tones, especially when used in quantity. But a few marigolds combined with either pale yellow daisies from the border, the creamy white of meadow-sweet from a country hedgerow, a few pale lemon zinnias or creamy white , will become so much softer in tone while still retaining the brightness of their original colour.
There are other flowers which come to mind that are orange — a deep burnt colour or yellow streaked with orange, which are magnificent when arranged alone or can act as a good contrast with other colours, especially with certain shades of blue.
Herb lilies () are one of the prettiest orange hued flowers, as indeed are montbretias. Herb lilies are now grown in a great variety of colours. The older Alstroemeria aurantiaca is the original flower grown in many gardens and considered almost as a weed because of its spreading habit of growth. This is a true orange, although looking closely into each individual flower many other tones of yellow, brown and a tawny gold will be seen.
There are some bright orange roses and of these Talisman is perhaps one of the best and certainly the one most often available at the florist. Not in itself orange, though giving this effect from a distance is Masquerade (in fact, the Baby Masquerade — a small edition — is pink). Grandmere Jenny is almost a peach orange and Alison Wheatcroft is nearer a deep apricot. Shot Silk is orange in bud but opens out showing almost as much yellow as Masquerade.
Perhaps lilies provide the greatest selection of orange flowers and of these Lilium henryi is one of the hardiest to grow. In the wild state in its native China it reaches a height of about three feet but cultivated and growing in gardens it has been known to reach a height of eight feet with as many as seventy flowers on one stem. Lilium henryi is a tawny orange and flowers later than most, coming at a time when flowers for tallare not easy to find. Lilium davidii has recurved Turk’s cap flowers in bright orange, also on a tall stem which may need some support. Enchantment is another well known lily with a colouring described as a hot nasturtium red and in a similar vein there is another called fire-flame. Among the deep orange golds, is Croesus, a good garden lily and Paprika, although a much shorter stemmed lily, has fine flowers of a burnt cinnamon colour.
Some of the Dutch honeysuckles have a tawny, orange colouring, streaked with yellow, and in fox-tail lilies ( Eremurus) there are some good orange and apricot colourings. Snapdragons, too, have amongst their many shades a bright orange scarlet flower, whilst Iceland poppies produce a clear colour rather like the skin of a tangerine.
Now we come to two slightly more complicated orange flowers—complicated from the point of view of hardiness in the garden. The first of these is one of the loveliest clear, deep-orange flowers, bordering on scarlet— Euphorbia fulgens (one of the spurges) and the other is the clivia that comes from South Africa, with bright orange flowers. In England both these plants are only half hardy but in many other countries they may be grown out-of-doors. The clivia is one of the most long lasting plants for; it sometimes has green tipped orange flowers, yellowish towards the centre. The flowers are in an umbel at the head of a long stalk rather similar to the African lily (Agapanthus); and the tight buds towards the centre of the cluster will eventually come out in water.
There are also deep orange zinnias, closely resembling a marigold but with deeper tones towards the centre. Branches of the orange ball tree (globosa) will also serve to introduce a note of orange into a large arrangement. At the other end of the scale, for small , are the charming small flowered French marigolds, (Tagetes patula). They come in a clear orange yellow and make a good colour scheme with some of the light lobelias.
When considering the possibilities of orange as a contrast with blue it is important, I think, to try not to have a purple blue unless the orange colour is a true one. For instance, the original Alstroemeria aurantiaca is quite good with dark delphiniums or monkshood but not with the light delphiniums, they need more of a yellow orange to counteract the almost green shade in their blue. The rather purple-blue of bellflowers (Campanula lactiflora) will go well with the tawny orange of L. henryi and their respective heights would be most suitable for tall. It is a question of seeing the colours together and then deciding whether the contrast is right or not.
A touch of bright orange in a yellow group can be interesting and, the bright orange colour of nasturtiums and some dahlias can be the highlight of an autumn group consisting of dark brown, yellow, white and grey.
As with variegated foliage, remember a small amount of a clear orange goes a long way when it is introduced with other softer tones.
One of the most exciting plants for drying if used in small quantities are Chinese lanterns (Physalis alkekengii). It has been grown for hundreds of years (in the great Juliana Anicia Codex of Dioscorides now in the Vienna Library, there is an illustration of it) and used to be sown in gardens then, much more than they are today. Perhaps this is because of the rather crude orange of the dried bunches one sometimes sees hanging up for sale. But its true beauty comes before it loses its foliage and before all the lanterns have completely turned, that is while they are still varying in colour through mellow shades of green, pale lemon, yellow and orange. In this state the Chinese lanterns is a most decorative plant and at the time of the year when it reaches this stage of its development any of these tones are useful. When all the lanterns have turned to their eventual deep orange, and the plant is denuded of its pretty fresh green, it is not nearly so attractive and the hardness of this overall colouring makes it more difficult to incorporate with other colour schemes.
Chinese lanterns, while still fresh and growing, have often proved useful to introduce a little bright orange as well as softer tones of lemon, and perhaps best of all, a pale lime green (before the younger lanterns have even begun to turn at all) into a group of autumn colourings. For dried arrangements they are invaluable. Added to a group of chocolate brown dock seedheads, globe artichokes, (which have turned so brown that they look as if composed of wood), nipplewort, teasels, etc., a few yellow and orange immortelle and the tallof orange Chinese lanterns will lighten up the arrangement in a most satisfactory way. I have also used them with dried blue delphiniums, alliums, reed-mace, sweetcorn seedheads, silver honesty and white pearly everlasting.