This week, Fourth of July celebrations with accompanying brass bands will encourage us to stand proud at the presentation of our country’s colors. In 1777, members of the Continental Congress adapted crisp red, white, and blue colors for the United States of America flag. Perhaps we could consider repeating these patriotic colors in our landscapes as well.
Over time, the color red has become associated with valor, hardiness and courage.
Throughout much of the nation, old-fashioned red geraniums (Pelargonium) are still a front porch summer favorite, especially with the colorful flag waving nearby. Somehow these flowers have become associated with pride of country. Does anyone remember those stirring Norman Rockwell scenes?
For the garden, desert-adapted plants with red blossoms include: Autumn Sage, Baja Fairyduster, annual Celosia, Dwarf Bottlebrush, and Firecracker Penstemon. For your further viewing pleasure, acrobatic hummingbirds are attracted to red flowers, including seasonal bright red clusters at the ends of tall vertical Ocotillo branches, resembling small flags waving in the breezes.
There is something special about white flowers in the garden. On even the hottest days of summer, just looking at white can make one feel cooler. Pineleaf Milkweed has delicate fern-like foliage and butterfly-attracting white flowers for several months of the year. There are also “Whirling Butterflies” Gaura, native Desert Plumbago, Sacred Datura, and white varieties of Lantana and Autumn Sage.
Perhaps the most challenging flower color for the patriotic garden is true blue. Many flowers listed as blue are often more violet or lavender. “Imperial Blue” Cape Plumbago produces dependably blue blossoms. These sprawling plants bloom from spring through summer, with phlox-like clusters of blue flowers at their branch ends.
Rosemary plants may have light or dark blue blooms. Visiting Queen butterflies do not seem to care whether the petals are “true blue” or not … they like them all.
With the nation’s birthday just around the corner, what better time to begin planning a red, white and blue garden for the next patriotic celebration. In the meantime, fly our beautiful flag … and enjoy a safe and happy Fourth!
Mary Kidnocker is a University of Arizona Master Gardener who lives in the Green Valley area. Her articles are featured weekly.