Red flower arrangements

Red in itself is a difficult colour to define. There are, after all, so many different shades of red—crimson, scarlet, rose, pink, etc. Miss Jekyll describes red and pink in this way: ‘It is very easy to say pink, but pink covers a wide range, from warm ash colour to pale salmon red, and from the tint of a new born mushroom to that of an ancient brick. One might prepare a range of at least thirty tints, and this number could easily be multiplied, all of which might be called pink; with regard to some room, or object, or flower of any one kind of red, only a few of these will be in friendly accordance, a good number will be in deadly discord, and the remainder more or less out of relation’.

Some people say with certainty that they require a flower decoration in ‘pillar-box red’. This remark is not as simple as it sounds, for no two people see colour alike. To some ‘pillar-box red’ may be a red brown and to others a cerise red. Therefore when one is asked to do an arrangement in ‘pink’ flowers it is only too easy to feel a certain sense of confusion as to exactly which ‘pink’ is wanted.

Red flower arrangements

On the other hand, colours need not always be in the same range, one can have a great deal of ‘clashing’ colours on purpose. Introducing, for instance, Frensham roses into a group of salmon-orange begonias, pink-red geraniums, (Pelargonium), crimson gerberas and a Zephirine Drouhin rose—that would almost take one’s breath away. Occasionally, and for a short period of time only, such effects can be startling and dramatic.

If one is thinking in terms of red, pink or crimson flowers, roses and carnations seem to be the obvious choice. There are so many of them from which to make a selection—try turning over the pages of a rose book or carnation catalogue. I am now going to mention a few specific roses: Anne Poulsen, a good clear red; Garnet, a deep, dark red, very long lasting; Carol, the same small type in a soft pink, also long lasting; Kathleen Ferrier, a bright cerise pink; Betty Uprichard, salmon pink; Queen Elizabeth, excellent for cutting, with strong, long stems and deep pink buds which open into paler pink flowers; Ophelia, one of the loveliest pale pink roses of all, with long stems for cutting; Frensham, a dark red; Dusky Maiden, dark wine red; Moulin Rouge, a flat red; Super Star, has a quality of dazzling brightness, rather garish; Magenta, a soft pink mauve, with full flowers and good foliage; Josephine Bruce, a frequently planted dark velvet red; Rosemary Rose, flat, full flowers, bright rose pink with deeper colouring towards the centre; Zephirine Drouhin, bright cerise pink, wonderful colouring, reliable, long flowering period.

Apart from roses and carnations there are many other pink, red or crimson flowers—Anemone fulgens, which is early flowering and comes in a good, clear bright colour. Gerberas excel in many shades of red, pink, salmon and rose. Geraniums, also, provide an infinite variety of colour in these• shades. Some of the bergamots come in a soft pink as well as the old-fashioned ruby red so often seen in cottage-gardens. Camellias, rhododendrons and azaleas are all available in these colours, which range from deep wine through many shades of delightful rose and pink to, in the case of the azaleas, a soft, almost salmon pink.

Clematis are inclined to come in a mauve pink, one of the best known and most frequently grown is Comtesse de Bouchard, flowering from late June until either the end of October or the beginning of November. Barbara Dibley is a charming violet pink with deep carmine bars across the petals and Ville de Lyon — a carmine red with petals shading to deep crimson, and finally bright red. Ernest Markham, better known as ‘the best of the red clematis’, flowers from August to October.

None of these clematis are ‘red’ in the sense of the ‘pillar-box red’, but they do have pink, mauve pink, a wine rose, or deep pink in their colouring. (A few stems of clematis on a flat dish make, what seems to me to be a perfect arrangement for a dining table.)

Dahlias, geums, zinnias and snapdragons also come in various shades of red and pink. The zinnias in particular defy description, for their colours are at once subtle, exotic and brilliant.

Another reliable red flower is the fair maids of France (Ranunculus aconit(olius). Its red colour varies very little, and this makes it especially useful at Christmas. Beard tongues (Pentstemon) also come in a good, deep red, and because of their shape and colouring make a valuable contrast with pale blue delphiniums. Both tulips and poppies come in a great variety of reds and pinks. Other valuable and charming additions, though not ‘reds’, are the pink and white flowers of Chilean gum box (Escallonia) and Japanese quince_ Tobacco plants (Nicotinia) and pansies come in a definite wine red; then there are the pink mauve border carnations and pinks. Herb lilies provide many soft touches for they come in shades of pink, mauve pink, cherry, dark rose and salmon pink as well as the better known orange and deep yellow. Then the startling, dramatic, clear red of the red-hot pokers, and the sealing wax red of certain stately gladioli. (Chrysanthemums produce soft tones of pale pink and an almost Chinese pink, as well as mauve pinks and deep wine ret coral and crimson.) Two more shrubs with prolific pink flowers are flowering currant (which can look most attractive arranged in a blue and white jug) and hydrangeas in various shades of pink, from a pale ballet pink to a deep rose-pink. Phlox and fox-tail lilies also come in shades of pink, the phlox in a deep raspberry red and the fox-tail lilies in a soft flesh pink. Canterbury bells are charming in a clear pale pink and heuchera provides a more coral colour. The delicate pink and white flowers of London pride are most attractive for small arrangements, and the spreading but also delicate flowers of bouncing bet (Saponaria) equally effective and useful.

I have left one of the best of all red or pink flowers until the last — it is the peony. Apart from the well known deep red, grown for many years in older gardens, there are now available many rare and exciting peonies, especially among the tree variety. One of the most delicate is Sarah Bernhardt, a clear pink ; Karl Rosenfeld, a good wine red colour; and an especially charming rose pink with quantities of yellow stamens is Gleam of Light.

One may mention that red is known as a cheerful colour, (‘Have something bright to cheer you’ a friend will say in a moment of disaster, and one may well buy a red handbag, an umbrella, or even go into the garden and cut some bright crimson nerines or some Paul’s Scarlet roses), and also a warm colour and I feel that certain shades of red can introduce a feeling of warmth to a north facing room or to furnishings in a cool, soft colouring. But it is important to remember that a small touch of red colouring goes a long way.

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