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Summer Colors

A poem for the colors of summer, on this Focus on Flowers.

Christina Rossetti wrote the following lines about the colors of summer:

What is pink? A rose is pink

By the fountain’s brink.

What is red? A poppy’s red

In its barley bed.

What is blue? The sky is blue

Where the clouds float through.

What is white? A swan is white

Sailing in the light.

What is yellow? Pears are yellow,

Rich and ripe and mellow.

What is green? The grass is green

With small flowers between.

What is violet? Clouds are violet

In the summer twilight.

What is orange? Why an orange,

Just an orange!

If we can’t grow orange trees in our gardens, we can still have the color orange if we plant Kniphofia ‘Flamenco’. The ‘Flamenco’ is an improved Red Hot Poker that has orange flower spikes in the sun garden.

Ligularia dentata ‘Desdemona’ also packs quite a punch in the shade garden if it has sufficient moisture. Both of these perennial plants give vibrant vertical color in summer and contrast with the other hues Rossetti’s poem celebrates.


Kniphofia ‘Flamenco’ and Ligularia ‘Desdemona’ are available from Bluestone Perennials 1 800 852 5243

Further information about plants, categorized by color and bloom time is found in   Andrews, Moya L. “Perennials  Short and Tall: A Seasonal Progression of Flowers for your Garden.”    Indiana University Press 2008 email:

Moya Andrews

, originally from Queensland, Australia, served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculties at Indiana University until 2004. In the same year, Moya began hosting Focus on Flowers for WFIU. In addition, Moya does interviews for Profiles, is a member of the Bloomington Hospital Board, and authored Perennials Short and Tall from Indiana University Press.

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