Pantone Honor Roll

If you listen very carefully, you might, MIGHT, just hear the whimper of spring. Mind you if you live in the American North East, the whimper is smothered by a 90' blanket of blizzard, but nonetheless, it’s down there, trying to raise its pert little green head. And in honor of spring’s imminent arrival, Pantone has released its 2013 Fall Fashion Color Report (yes, fall). And what do you know? Sitting right atop the list is none other than the lovely 15-0533, aka Linden Green. I’ve always liked to consider myself an early adopter (even if I’m the only one who does), and it looks like in naming my design firm, I had a premonition of Fall/Winter 2013. (Too bad we’ll be passé by Spring 2014, but that’s next year’s problem.) [spotify id="spotify:track:3coJlfo8TsLwqyRFFz8IKF" width="300" height="380" /]

Over the course of the next few months, we’ll draw inspiration from spring fashion trends for the garden – black and white is big, as is lace – but as is the way with fashion’s nonsensical warping of time, let’s first take a look at the colors we’ll be wearing next autumn and how to translate them into the garden.

Photo: Hervé Léger 2013, Pantone.co.uk

We begin, of course, with Linden Green. Hervé Léger showed an architecturally engineered jacquard dress representing “the richness of nature … and a garden of urban expression, exposed by nature’s palette.” Crucially for us in garden terms is the focus on organic and nature-inspired vocabulary and tones. In Pantone’s words, Linden Green “brings a lightness and brightness to the deeper shades of fall,” and in the garden, its vivacity brightens dark corners and nooks. Green is generally thought of as a cool, restful color, and in garden settings it almost disappears as a background color. But Linden Green is warm, kinetic and electrifying.

Clematis florida 'Flore Pleno' Photo: TuinFlora.com

In a sunny but sheltered position, try Clematis florida ‘Flore Pleno,’ a short climber that reaches 6 ½' in total and looks fantastic against a red brick wall or grown amid an evergreen shrub such as Garrya elliptica. Cut it back in winter, just before spring growth begins, and make sure it receives ample water. It won’t love you for subjecting it to severe frosts, so please play nicely, New Englanders.

Helleborus argutifolius Photo: Hellebores.org

In a shadier spot, try Helleborus argutifolius, which can take a little more sun than its hellebore cousins and also raises its face higher than its drooping, shy relatives. The color of this hellebore is creeping towards lime and chartreuse, and you can use it to set off other vivid brights, such as yellow forsythia or the orange tulip ‘Ballerina.’ You can also use it to set off pastels like Helleborus x hybridus ‘Ivory Prince’ or Spiraea ‘Ogon.’

Angelina Jolie in emerald Atelier Versace Photo: Fox News Magazine

On the opposite end of the green spectrum is the Pantone 2013 color of the year, Emerald (17-5641), coupled with Mykonos Blue (18-4434).  Deeply elegant and arresting on a catwalk or red carpet – see Angelina Jolie in Atelier Versace or the Vivienne Westwood F/W ’13 runway for evidence – as a plant material, emerald is a neutral blender. Think of it in terms of a shrub or hedge rather than a front-and-center showstopper. Loropetalum chinense is a fantastic, hardworking, good-looking shrub that plays well as background support but actually does sparkle into the forefront when it flowers. It comes in many cultivars, and ‘Emerald Snow’ is a crisp, glossy iteration. Give it partial shade and combine it with Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle,’ Bergenia cordifolia or Choisya ternata ‘Sundance,’ to whom he’ll make a fine Butch Cassidy.

Vivienne Westwood emerald coat Photo: Glamour Magazine, February 2013

As for Pantone’s Mykonos Blue, true blue is scarce in the botanical world; Meconopsis grandis is one of the few exceptions. Although Himalayan poppy is more mountainous and aloof than queeny Greek beach, this is definitely a showstopper of a plant; an exotic, unusual and tantalizing specimen.

Meconopsis grandis Photo: fennelandfern.co.uk

I have never grown it, and from all I’ve read on the matter, doing so isn’t easy, but that makes me want to try it all the more. The color is almost unreal, particularly as set off by its complementary orange stamens. I have made it my horticultural quest to someday grow this plant with its crinkly, papery blooms. I also aspire to a Dior fashion hajj in order to pay my respects to this superlatively uncrinkly Diorissimo handbag in Mykonos Blue.

Diorissimo Mykonos Blue leather bag Photo: Dior

Acai (19-3628) is a deep, deep purple (Hendrix-esque), that Carolina Herrera used on a high-waisted skirt cinched with a structured belt. Red and purple set each other off spectacularly, making red redder, and purple purpler, and Herrera's gown is a master class in playing these hot colors against one another.

Carolina Herrera hourglass gown Photo: Glamour Magazine, February 2013

In the garden, add richness and depth with Aconitum napellus, also known as monkshood due to its mantle-like flowers. Aconitum has a sinister history, used for millennia as a poison and even as an execution device in Ancient Rome. Combine it with Dahlia ‘Bishop of Llandaff’, whose dark foliage is equally moody and whose red flowers evoke Pantone’s Samba (19-1662).

Photo: Aconitum napellus and Dahlia 'Bishop of Llandaff'

Zipping along the warm end of the spectrum, Pantone lists Koi (17-1452) and Vivacious (19-2045) as must have fall colors. Koi is a “decorative, dazzling, shimmering” orange according to the color library; Glamour calls it “the same color as the fish.” I call it the same color as the humble nasturtium, aka Tropaeolum majus, who in growing terms is light years away from the Himalayan poppy and its finicky exoticism. If there’s a place in the world where nasturtiums don’t grow, I have yet to hear of it. They are bold and cheerful and bright yet somehow kind of elegant too. The flowers (and leaves and seeds) are edible, and the vining stems will climb whatever they can reach. Claude Monet (whose gardening I far prefer to his painting) planted an allée of nasturtiums – or capucines, as they are known in French – along the main path in his garden at Giverny. He originally meant only to soften the edges of the path with dwarf nasturtiums but accidentally planted the climbing variety; he liked the effect so much that he repeated it annually. (And take note, these plants are annuals, though they will reseed themselves.) As Ariane, a Giverny guide and interpreter, states so wisely and Frenchly on her blog, “It is a talent to know how to use one’s own mistakes.”

Nasturtium allée, Giverny Photo: Ariane, Giverny Impression.com

Yves Saint Laurent was another French master of color, though with fabric not paint, who drew on his French/North African roots to first combine fuschia and tangerine on the catwalk.

Saint Laurent Rive Gauche Photo: The Licentiate.com, April 2012

If anything screams 1970s Rive Gauche louder than this color combination, I may not want to hear it, and if you want to replicate it in your garden – I do – than try planting the little capucines (I’m going Paris boho now and dropping in French unnecessarily, n’est-ce pas?) scattered among Heuchera ‘Pluie de Feu’ or beneath Rosa gallica var. officinalis, the Apothecary Rose. This is one of my favorite plants, for its color, its scent and its history. It originated at least as far back as Ancient Persia and arrived in Europe on the backs of homebound crusaders. It was indeed planted in cloister gardens throughout Europe, its oil used by medieval monks to tend the sick and its petals rolled into beads to create “rosaries.”

Photo: Rosa gallica officinalis

Pantone rounds out its color palette with Turbulence (19-4215), a deep slate grey; Carafe (19-1116), dark coffee brown; and Deep Lichen Green (18-0312), self-explanatory. I tend generally to think of brown in the landscape as the color of dead plants, but that’s not strictly true. Helianthus ‘Velvet Queen’ is a sunflower whose dark, chocolate face is considerably moodier than the big, cheery yellow ones with whom we normally associate these happy summer flowers.

Helianthus 'Velvet Queen' Photo: Dave's Garden

Zac Posen showed an equally deep and silky chocolate gown on his fall runway; imagine it worn with orange topaz, and you can see how to use the helianthus in your autumn garden, perhaps above your orange nasturtiums.

Zac Posen F/W '13 Photo: AP, USA Today

Grey, in my mind, is the ultimate color (Linden Green notwithstanding), and I could sing its praises ad infinitum. In the garden its uses are rather different than in the home or the wardrobe, where it tends to be equal parts dramatic, sophisticated and shape-shifting. In the landscape, however, grey is generally used as a bright highlight and a blending color. I have often struggled to dial down the nausea factor of saccharine pink blooms, and silvery grey companion plants like Senecio or Stachys byzantina are the answer.

Stachys byzantina Photo: Randy Stewart

But as multiple designers showed us on the runway, grey botanics don’t have to mean lightness and reflection.

Nonoo, Tory Burch, Vera Wang F/W '13 grey florals Photo: Harber's Bazaar, February 2013

Rosa glauca’s deep, dusky foliage and simple, clean flowers are a perfect example of grey’s moody effect on pink.

Rosa glauca Photo: Henry Hartley

Hosta sieboldiana var. elegans is a quietly bold foliage plant that grows in part to full shade and likes quite a bit of water. A flowering showstopper would have to shout awfully loudly to distract me from this slate beauty, but be warned that slugs love it as much as I do. They also love beer (we have a lot in common), so you can fill a dish with Milwaukee’s Best and sink it in the soil to trap them. If you live somewhere with enough winter chill to grow crocus, try this hosta underplanted with ‘Cream Beauty.’

Hosta sieboldiana 'Elegans' Photo: W. John Hayden, U. of Richmond

Last on Pantone’s list is Deep Lichen Green, and to view it best, look all around you. Moss growing between stone pavers; lichen dripping off oak trees; the dark underside of a conifer’s needles – this is a forest floor color.

ADEAM F/W '13 Photo: Pantone.co.uk

Hanako Maeda used it in a vine motif velvet dress for ADEAM, and she references the deep colors of the forest as well as the night sky. As for how to use it in a landscape, there is no method with this deep green. This is a nature color, not a nurseryman’s color. It is everywhere and nowhere all at once, seemingly disappearing in its abundance.

Moss Garden, Gioji Temple, Japan Photo: Jeffrey Friedl, July 2012

Mandarins Are Not the Only Fruit

Clementines on blue tile   Photo: le cabri, cabriphoto.com With apologies to Jeanette Winterson, this week we look at the little guys of the citrus world. Or, in the case of grapefruit, the big fat bruisers. Sweet oranges and lemons get the majority of the citrus press (of which, I suspect, there isn’t much), but there are myriad other types of citrus to fawn and salivate over. Limes, mandarins, grapefruit, citrons – the choices are many, and they are good.

Mandarins

The variety of mandarins and mandarin hybrids is vast: clementines, satsumas, tangerines, tangelos, sweet mandarin, sour mandarin, and on and on. The closest you’ll find to any sort of holiday gift guide on this website is my suggestion to put a tangerine in the bottom of someone's Christmas stocking. It’s a long-held Yuletide tradition, and a damn sight more pleasant than getting a lump of coal.

While we’re at it, a quick holiday Grammar-Nazi rant for the countless gift guide offenders I encounter each year: "gift” is a noun, not a verb. You may not “gift” someone a present, you may GIVE it to them. It’s a perfectly nice verb that has been around a long time and doesn't need replacement. Also, you may not “fancy” anything up. You can make it fancy (adjective), or you can fancy a pint or Brad Pitt (verb). Rant over.

Mandarin plants are evergreen and relatively low-maintenance, as long as you choose the right variety for your climate.

Afternoon Still Life  Photo: Julie Bidwell, December 2010

In Northern Europe, choose “Calamondin.” It’s a sour-acid mandarin and thus better for cooking than eating off the tree, but it’s quite cold-hardy. If you really live in the northernmost north of Northern Europe, grow it in a container and bring it indoors for the winter; enduring snow is too much to ask of any citrus fruit. Inside, keep it in bright, indirect light, and your container-grown citrus will emerge perkily from the winter months, your house all the lusher for its presence. On a side Northern European note, The Linden Green has recently acquired Serbian and Russian readers, which is extremely exciting and Slavic, and honestly, I couldn’t recommend a better citrus to you than “Calamondin” or "Yuzu" (more on it below). Hvala Vam. Spasiba.

Calamondin  Photo: The Chelsea Gardener

“Clementine” is another excellent container choice and has very sweet fruit though lots of seeds, which can be tricky for small children. Clementines need less heat than many other mandarins, and their trees are small and drooping. “Dancy” is a classic Christmas stocking choice, as it ripens through winter and thus adds vibrancy to December and January gardens in hot regions. “Honey” has the sweetest name and produces a large, spreading tree if you have the space. “Kinnow” is great for traditional citrus climates; the tree is more upright than spreading, and the fruit ripens through winter and early spring. The well-named “Pixie” is a great choice for families with children, as the fruit is seedless and juicy and the peel comes off easily.

Yuzu

"Yuzu" is seriously cool. Also, no pun intended, it has extreme cold tolerance. "Yuzu" grows wild in Tibetan crags and Central China and can withstand temperatures as low as 10 degrees Fahrenheit. It is an excellent choice for the cold-weather dwellers amongst us, but do keep in mind that all citrus, cold-hardy or not, need at least six hours of reliable sun a day.

The "Yuzu" tree is very thorny and becomes gnarled by storms and wind. The fruit is sublime. Newly faddish to the West, it has been prized in Asia for over 1200 years. It’s the main ingredient in ponzu sauce and is essential to many miso soup recipes. Outside of its culinary uses, yuzu is also a part of Toji, the Japanese observance of the winter solstice. In Kyoto, a hot yuzu bath is a ceremonial ritual undertaken to ward off illness in the forthcoming year.

Ceremonial yuzu bath Photo: yuzupassion.com

Four Winds Growers (an excellent US citrus source) offers this yuzu recipe...

Edamame Shiso Salad with Yuzu Vinaigrette
Ingredients
  • 3 cups cooked, shelled edamame (Possible substitutions: fava beans, yard long beans, peas, asparagus or salad greens)
  • 1 tbsp Yuzu juice
  • 5 or more shiso leaves, sliced
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Zest from one Yuzu or lemon
  • Toasted sesame seeds
Directions:

Place edamame or other salad fixings in a serving bowl.

Mix in blender: Yuzu juice, half of the shiso leaves, the olive oil, vinegar and maple syrup. Gently combine dressing with salad including remaining shiso leaves. Garnish with Yuzu or lemon zest and toasted sesame seeds if desired. Serve immediately.

Grapefruit

Grapefruit – I don’t like it. But you might, so in the spirit of giving, I offer you a smidgeon of grapefruit info. Don’t bother growing it without summer heat and lots of space, as the tree can reach 30 feet in height. It’s called “grapefruit,” by the way, because the fruit hang in grape-like clusters on the tree. The flesh color is determined more by cultural conditions than variety, so don’t get hung up on finding a red-, white- or pink-fleshed cultivar. “Duncan” is perhaps a little dorky but extremely juicy and flavorful. Make of that what you will. “Rio Red” needs a lot of heat but is good for juice. “Cocktail” has a promising name and is extremely juicy. Perhaps it is best used in Food & Wine’sBig Texan Bourbon-and-Grapefruit Cocktail.” (This blog is becoming alarmingly boozy.)

Big Texan Bourbon-and-Grapefruit Cocktail Photo: Jody Horton, Food & Wine Magazine, June 2011

Lime

Grimy, blimey, limey – everyone loves limes. And Englishmen. And mad dogs. (Perhaps the blog's increased booziness is the culprit for its increased weirdness?) Anyhow, limes are useful and good. Key lime pie, Coronas with lime, Mojitos (oy); I must find a space in my garden for a lime tree. The best variety is “Bearss” lime; I have no idea why so many “s’s,” but if they really bother you, it’s also known as “Persian” and “Tahiti.” It bears(s) fruit in winter, is very thorny and seedless, and can be grown in a container or in the ground. “Key” lime (aka “Mexican” lime) is very sensitive to cold. The Florida Keys, after all, are not known for their harsh winters. Mature limes are actually yellow, but we see green ones in the shop because they can be picked and eaten when immature.

Corona with lime Photo: Steve in HK

Citron

I will leave you with the Citron group, which really will not survive cold weather but is small in size, and thus great in containers. “Buddha’s Hand” bears a crazy-looking fruit that resembles, well… a hand.

Buddhas Hand Photo: One Piece Point

And although we are fast approaching Hanukkah, I'll leave you with “Ethrog,” one of the four fruits in the Jewish feast Sukkot. “Ethrog” (or “Etrog”) is a ridged Israeli variety, and during Sukkot, one of its branches is held along with those of the palm, the willow and the myrtle. The four species are then used in a blessing and waved to the east, the south, the west, the north, up and down, to signify that god is everywhere.

Silver Etrog container, ca. 1800 Photo: Ministerio de Cultura, Sephardic Museum, Toledo, Spain

 

Oranges and Lemons Say the Bells of St. Clements

As discussed previously (and received with great fervor, I might add), Flea Street Café greets each season with a new set of seasonal and produce-led cocktails. We’ve looked already at the means to grow and shake a Pomegranate Gimlet; today we’ll explore the cultivation of citrus in order to ensure a lifetime of Blood Orange Margaritas and Tangerine Martinis. Flea Street has since christened their martini the Tangerine Tango, as it's made with cucumber vodka and, in the words of owner Jesse Cool, “dances between the seasons.” My dance card is open, and I am ready and willing to partner it.

Citrus is a fabulous dance partner, whether you tango in the landscape, the kitchen or the martini glass. The trees are gorgeous plants and can be espaliered, grown in containers or prized as specimens in the ground. The fragrance of the blossom is one of the most sweet, heady and evocative aromas you could hope to experience. The fruit (and sometimes even foliage) has myriad culinary uses. The variety and details of growing citrus is encyclopedic in scope, but we’ll touch on the basics over the next few posts.

Growing Citrus

The biggest deciding factor when it comes to choosing what to grow and where to grow it is your climate. The true citrus regions of the world are temperate and Mediterranean-esque in climate. Californians, Floridians and Mexicans are in luck, and southern Spain and Italy are prime citrus regions, as is Iran, though sadly The Linden Green lacks a solid cadre of Iranian readers. (But we have lots of Zambians! Very exciting indeed. Read on, Zambia.)

Should you live outside the traditional citrus regions of the world, panic not. Certain varieties are more tolerant of cold and heat extremes than their delicate cousins, and for gardeners in Russia, Canada and Northern Europe, several varieties make good container choices. These can be brought inside for the cold winter months; think of the orangery, used in Europe since the 17th century to overwinter container-grown citrus.

Whichever site you choose, be it garden or glasshouse, give your citrus plants full sun, fantastic drainage and shelter from cold winds. Mulch with plenty of organic matter when planting, and continue to top-dress each year both for protection of roots and for healthy soil biology. Citrus have widespread surface roots, and they don’t appreciate much underplanting or excessive working of the ground beneath them. They are particularly unhappy at the edge of a lawn, where greedy grass will steal their nitrogen and water.

Water your citrus deeply but not often; shallow waterings every day aren't good for any plant, particularly citrus trees. Deep watering once a week develops healthy, happy, deep roots and better-established plants.

Citrus can be fertilized with special citrus food, but I personally don’t bother (laziness rather than wisdom) unless some sort of mineral deficiency is apparent. Lack of nitrogen is often the culprit, but chlorosis can also signal a lack of iron, zinc or manganese. Chlorosis presents itself as yellowing or mottling of the leaves – patterns differ depending on which specific mineral is lacking – but always address cultural issues first. Lack of water and sunburn also cause yellow leaves. For further reading on citrus cultivation, consult the Sunset Citrus guide in the West or Martin Page’s Growing Citrus in colder climates.

And now for the citrus varieties themselves. Today we’ll look at oranges and lemons, and if you’re wondering about this article’s title, then you don’t know the dark little nursery rhyme from 17th-century London. Have just discovered it ends with the following lines ...

“Here comes a candle to light you to bed; Here comes a chopper to chop off your head. Chip chop chip chop – the last man’s dead.” Now let’s talk fruit.

Oranges

Sweet oranges (Citrus sinensis) are the variety you’re after, as sour oranges (Citrus aurantium) are really best for marmalade and not much else. And I don’t like marmalade. (But if you do, make it with ‘Seville’ oranges and mix in some bourbon.)

The two most widely planted categories of sweet oranges are Valencia and navel. Navels are the sweetest and accordingly need a lot of heat to ripen and create sugar. 'Washington Navel' is on sale everywhere, so I wouldn’t bother planting it at home. Try instead the pink-fleshed 'Cara Cara' or the superbly named 'Skaggs Bonanza.' Who is Skaggs, and what was his bonanza?

Valencias are slightly more frost-tolerant than navels and as they sweeten on the tree, they’re the most commonly grown commercial type of orange. Confusingly, the most ubiquitous Valencia variety is called ‘Valencia’ (Skaggs was busy with his navel), and it’s currently sloshing about in a carton in your fridge. Again, I can’t see the point of growing one you can buy everywhere, so instead plant 'Campbell' or 'Delta,' both of which are nearly seedless.

If you live in a desert – Arizona or perhaps, Iran (I remain ever-hopeful) – try ‘Diller,’ which is great for juicing, or ‘Pineapple,’ because of its rich flavor and confusingly fruity moniker.

If you live in Northern California or Sicily, then you must grow ‘Moro’ or ‘Sanguinello’ blood oranges, whose rind and fruit are dark red and whose flavor is sweet-but-tart. (And if you live in London, have dinner at Moro on Exmouth Market for a truly fantastic meal.)

Complacencies of the peignoir, and late

Coffee and oranges in a sunny chair,

And the green freedom of a cockatoo

Upon a rug mingle to dissipate

The holy hush of ancient sacrifice.

- Wallace Stevens (1879–1955), 'Sunday Morning'

Lemons

Could you roast a chicken or make a vodka tonic without lemons? Yes, you could. But you shouldn’t. Their rind, flesh and juice are equally useful in the kitchen, and their stature, foliage and fragrance is unsurpassable in the garden. Lemons’ heat requirements aren’t quite as high as oranges’, so the growing zones are somewhat increased, though cold tolerance is still an issue. Lemons – like all citrus trees – come in standard or dwarf varieties, so as with oranges, whether you want to garden in a pot or in the ground, there’s a lemony option for you. Keep in mind that dwarf trees range in height from 4 to 10 feet, so if you’re using a container, you’ll need a big one, at least 16” in diameter.

As for lemon varieties, you can’t go wrong with ‘Improved Meyer.’ It’s excellent in containers (if you choose a dwarf variety) or in the ground. It does indeed show up on lots of menus and in ‘artisanal’ bake goods galore, but it does not often appear in the grocery store. 'Meyer’s' peel is on the thin side, making it difficult to transport, but its juice is sweeter than most lemons and fantastic for cooking.

I planted an ‘Improved Meyer’ at home, which is heavenly, and I inherited a huge ‘Eureka’ tree, which is fine and useful, though extremely thorny. A more interesting choice, if I were starting from scratch, would have been ‘Variegated Pink Eureka.’ Striped green and white leaves with touches of purple set off the fruit, also variegated when young and pink on the inside. It’s a good-looking but fussy fruit; the drag queen of lemons, perhaps.

I leave you with two excellent lemon recipes.

First, from Bon Appetit, here's Linguine with Crab, Lemon, Chile and Mint. I'm hungry, and I want to eat it right now.

And finally, so we can finish where we started, take a look at (and sip of) Food 52's Muddled Meyer Martini. Aaaah, the delicious cycle of life.

Orange You Glad I Didn't Make a Terrible Gardening Pun?

I'm sorry. There's really no excuse for a "joke" that awful. Let's blame the final vestiges of Giants euphoria, shall we? Add a whopping great giddiness at Tuesday's election results, and my sense of humor takes a nose dive.

Having looked at black last week, let’s swing to the other end of the Halloween/Giants color spectrum and discuss orange. While black in the garden creates subtlety and drama, orange shouts "FIRE!!!" from the rooftops. In good design conscience, I can’t recommend you go overboard in the way of orange furniture, barbecues or containers. A little orange goes a long way.

[spotify id="spotify:track:7K6lYT41nAnHImSnxqAVrO" width="300" height="380" /]

Having said that, this gorgeous lounger – best for couples who like each other – may be the only soporific orange item in the world.

Orange radiates heat and, accordingly, it's a color that tends to herald summer and autumn, unlike spring's primarily pastel blooms. Nature offers exceptions to every rule, however: see TulipaDordogne’ and T. ‘Ballerina’ as evidence. Both are gorgeous in pots, either on a patio or balcony or sunk into the ground.

One of the most magnificent and orange of all orange plants is Fritillaria imperialis (even the name is imposing), painted in all its glory by none less than Vincent van Gogh. Fritillarias need a fair amount of water and fertile, well-drained soil, and unlike other bulbs, fritillaria imperialis prefers to be planted on its side. On the mundane side, if you sniff it too closely, you’ll find it redolent of a skunk.

Forthwith, a few orange flowers and their potential plant companions, keeping in mind that almost infinite plant combinations are possible. The only parameters to consider are cultural requirements (sun, water, hardiness, etc), bloom time, and your own aesthetic preferences.

In order from softest apricot to hottest pumpkin...

Dahlia "Gwyneth" + Ceratostigma plumbaginoides   The warm-climate dwellers among us – take note Californians, Australians and Mexicans – can plant this, sit back and enjoy. In colder climates, dig the dahlia tubers in fall and store them in a dark, dry place until the frosts have passed. Dahlias are native to Mexico and Guatemala; the Aztecs used them as both a treatment for epilepsy and as an edible delicacy.

Achillea "Terracotta” + Nasella tenuissima + Rudbeckia hirta or Helenium ‘Waldtraut’   This is a low-water combination that can easily tolerate poor, dry soil. It must, however, have good drainage, so please don’t plant it at the bottom of a muddy hill. “Terracotta” yarrow blooms peachy yellow and matures to copper. It resists deer but attracts butterflies and is a fabulous addition to any garden, particularly one with edibles growing elsewhere within it. (Butterflies are pollinators and may well help your fruit and vegetables grow.)

Lilium henryiInula magnifica     Recommended by Paul Williams in his excellent Garden Color Book, this combination creates a late summer contrast in texture and harmony of color. The lily is a Chinese native, "discovered" by Augustine Henry in Yichang in the 1880s. I tend to prefer white lilies to the brightly colored hybrids, but this species lily and the fascinating Lilium martagon have an authenticity of color lacking in the "Buy-3-Get-1-Free" varieties of the big bulb merchandisers.

Orange as it appears in late summer blooms is the forerunner to its autumnal foliage counterpart. As the leaves of many deciduous trees end their annual life cycle, they explode into a blaze of colors, ending not with a whimper, but a bang.

You don’t have to live in New England to achieve a fall riot of color, though it doesn’t hurt if you want to grow sugar maples, Acer saccharum (above). In milder climes or smaller spaces, try the Japanese maple instead. Though it can be prone to verticilium wilt and is often overused at real estate offices and dental practices, Acer palmatum is an exquisite specimen that comes in a wide range of varieties and a kaleidoscope of exquisite colors, sizes and textures. We'll look here at orange varieties, keeping in mind that the color is a mixture of yellow and red, both of whom tend to vie for attention. For a smaller Japanese maple, try "Waterfall," "Mikawa yatsubusa," "Seiryu," or "Koto no ito." They all hover around six to twelve feet, with the exception of "Mikawa yatsubusa," which is only three feet tall.

For a tall, magnificent specimen or grove of Japanese maples, plant "Sangokaku," which is typically yellow-leaved but does range into bright orange. "Sangokaku" reaches 20 feet in height and needs excellent drainage to avoid disease.

There is an orange jewel in the autumn crown that surpasses A. p. "Sangokaku," however, and it is also a prized Japanese specimen. The Katsura tree (Cercidiphyllum japonicum) is not a plant to be plonked unceremoniously in the outskirts of your garden. Honor this exquisite workhorse by placing it somewhere you can admire it year-round. The Katsura tree’s new growth emerges red and purple in spring, morphing to glaucous green in summer, and blazing on to an eventual and triumphant apricot, orange and yellow in autumn. Cut back slightly on its late summer water to enhance fall foliage color.

And as if the Katsura tree’s sophistication and constant visual interest weren’t enough of a sell, consider its autumn fragrance: on a warm, dry day, its fallen leaves smell like burnt sugar and fill the air with the scent of caramel. Surely this is a tree worthy of more elegance than this blog post’s feeble title?