top of page

Roses are RED. The use of red in the landscape.

Updated: Mar 1, 2020

As it is Valentines Day today I thought it would be a good time to talk a little bit about one of my favourite colours to use in the landscape. The colour red. Red has more personal associations than any other colour. Recognized as a stimulant, red is inherently exciting and the amount of red is directly related to the level of energy perceived. Red draws attention, and a keen use of red as an accent can immediately focus attention on a particular element. It also increases enthusiasm, stimulates energy and can increase the blood pressure, respiration, heartbeat, and pulse rate.

Red encourages action and confidence and represents beauty in many languages and cultures.

In Chinese culture, colours corresponded with the five primary elements, the directions and the four seasons. Red was associated with fire, south, and summer.

In Japan, the colour red is associated closely with a few deities in Shinto and Buddhist traditions, so statues of these deities are often decked in red clothing or painted red.

Red is not just a great complementary colour to green, it also looks great with stone too.

A few random facts about the colour red.

Red is the highest arc of the rainbow.

Red is the first colour you lose sight of at twilight.

The longest wavelength of light is red.

In the financial arena, red symbolizes a negative direction.

Feng shui recommends painting the front door of a home red to invite prosperity to the residents. 

Did you know bees can’t see the colour red, but they can see all other bright colours? They can also see a colour we can’t: ultraviolet (UV). Since bees can’t see red, red flowers are pollinated in other ways, by bats, butterflies, birds, and the wind. Flowers that want to attract bees have colours that bees can see. Often, white flowers, which look plain to us, actually reflect UV light, so they look very pretty to the bees.

Red is considered a warm colour in landscape design. Its appearance in the garden has an energetic effect. Red flowers and foliage give the illusion of coming forward in the landscape, helping to make a large garden feel cosier.Red plants attract the eye and are a good choice for areas you want to draw attention to. Red’s complementary colour in the garden is green, but can also look great with colours like yellow.

Planting Red. Below are a few of my favorite reds for the garden:

* Acer palmatum ‘Osakazuki’ * Hemerocallis  ‘Daylily’ * Fuchsia magellanica ‘Riccartonii

 * Callistemon ‘bottle brush’ * Canna ‘red king humbert’ * Lobelia fulgens  ‘Queen Victoria Lobelia’ * Dwarf Chenille Firetail ‘Acalypha reptans’ * Flame Creeper ‘Tropaeolum speciosum’ * Parthenocissus Quinquefolia * Chilean Flame Creeper ‘Tropaeolum speciosum’ * Bergenia ‘bressingham ruby’ * Photinia ’red robin’ * Japanese Blood Grass ‘Imperata rubra’ Red Baron * Carpet Rose, Scarlet * Salvia ‘Lady in Red’ * Red-twig dogwood ‘Cornus alba’ * Crocosmia masoniorum ‘Lucifer’ lucifer montbretia * Lychnis chalcedonica maltese cross * Rhododendron ‘Elizabeth’    rhododendron * Schizostylis coccinea ‘Major’  kaffir lily * Zinnia elegans ‘Dreamland Series’zinnia.

In his blog, Landscape Designer and garden blogger Peter Donegan had a great solution to doing something about that ‘old dead tree that you never got round to cutting down’ and turned a dead tree into a great focal point in the planting bed by simply grabbing an old tin of outdoor wood paint from the garage and painting it red. 

A good example of how effective red can be in landscape design is  Tim Austen’s ‘The Growise Garden’ at the 2011 Bloom Garden Show In his blog, he talks about the eye catching catwalk in his design:

 “Alluding to the landscape change theme present in the garden, the boardwalk deliberately cuts across the center of the garden and is metaphorically a landscape fissure when the garden is viewed as a whole.  Its linear form also provides contrast with the other flowing forms and shapes used.

I deliberately chose the “Movie-Star” red colour to provide a strong colour contrast with other natural tones and textured finishes used in the garden.  The paint used in the boardwalk is Irish made (in Celbridge) by the really helpful people at ColorTrend and is water based so it is an environmentally friendly paint. Apparently, pilots of planes passing overhead en route from Dublin Airport could pick out the boardwalk quite easily“

You can Tim’s full blog post here 

As it is Valentine’s Day today I must also share my appreciation for my wonderful wife, who makes me happy every single day I am with her. Without her love and support I would not be the man I am today. Also without her, you probably wouldn’t be reading this blog either, as she edits all my blog posts, deciphering my poorly spelled, poorly structured words into legible blog posts.  Thanks to everyone who contributed photographs to this post! Please take a moment to check out their pages by clicking on the links provided. 

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone.

9 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page