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My Red Bed - Second Year ( *9 photos*)

November 1, 2006

Last year I posted photos of my brand new red bed. I thought you might be interested in an update to see how it is doing in year 2. I have planted several large shrubs and a couple of small trees, but they are still too small to show up yet. One problem with this bed is its lack of height. But I'm working on it!

Here is the overall scene - it's 50 feet long. Unfortunately, when I reduce the resolution for fast uploads it really destroys image quality. It looks much better in real life.

This year I thought I would try something new - red castor beans. They were wonderful and next year I will do a lot more. The seeds are highly toxic, and my kids have gotten several lectures on them. They are finally old enough to know better, but I still watch them.

This photo is from early July, but the garden really gets going late in the season. I will be adding more for early season interest next year.

Here we are in August, things are filling out nicely.


Isn't that castor bean nice?

Dahlias and red hibiscus.

See the red stars - that's my new cypress vine on the obelisks.


Salvias and amaranthus really work well together.

That's my daughter, I'm brainwashing her with flower love.

Me and my 2 kids :-) Every proud mom has to throw in some of those pictures.

Sorry for so many photos, but it was actually really hard to narrow it down to so few! Hope you enjoyed it. Lots more plans for next year.

Comments (97)

  • Nicki

    I can't say anything that hasn't already been said! I remember seeing pictures of your garden last year, and I was blown away then.

    Gorgeous! Thank gawd you gotta garden!

  • slubberdegulion

    Same here, I'm smitten. I recall last year's pics also. Just gorgeous. And not only the plants (choices and placement), but the pictures themselves, which has also been said before. Thanks for sharing!

  • threeorangeboys

    Try the red dahlia spartacus if you want to add more dahlias. They are a gorgeous deep red- huge dinner plate ones. I am thinking about adding cannas to my garden for the first time. are they hard to grow? I never thought of them before but I am developing a real affection for the tropical plants. Always looking for things that are happy in heat and humidity.

  • limequilla


    I think you've inspired a LOT of people, whether they have posted here or not. If you go to the Seed Exchange forum, under Round Robins, there is a Swap called "Theme" swap run by drippy. In it are 30 participants and about half of them are starting a "Red Garden".


  • gottagarden

    I put this info on another post, but thought it would be useful to include here for any future readers.

    Color is so subjective. When does red cross into orangish red? When does red slide into purplish red? Whats the difference between burgundy, maroon, scarlet, crimson, ruby, claret, vermilion? (not to mention smoky red, cherry red, tomato red, etc. Â those terms at least are a little easier to envision.) And just exactly which shade is the "true red" anyways?

    IÂm sorry but I wonÂt be answering these questions. I just bring it up to help describe my "red bed". My goal was to have it be "true red", more or less, and also have lots of dark or reddish foliage. I have since come to the conclusion that there are lots of orangey-reds and lots of purply reds, but few "true" reds. In order to have more than five specimens, I have relaxed my standards and include many flowers that are "pretty close" to true red. If they stray too far from that section of the spectrum, they have been usually been removed. Not because IÂm trying to be a purist, but I find that orange red next to pink red really clashes. I have a couple photos of these that show what I mean. But, you could decide to focus instead on burgundy reds altogether, or the orange reds.

    Here are my observations on plants and colors in this zone 5 red bed. Your garden may differ.


    Amaranthus  not sure what kind I have, I got it in a trade. It is the backbone plant of the garden. Looks like amaranthus cruentus Hopi Red Dye.
    Castor Bean "carmencita" Â wow! The new mainstay, a huge success this year. Highly poisonous seeds.
    Impatiens  edging plant
    Petunia  edging plant
    Salvia coccinea "Lady in Red" Â must have. Blooms early and all summer long
    Salvia splendens "Flare" Â somewhat orangish, but worth it for the long bloom season.
    Icicle Pansies  dark burgundy, long bloom when nothing else going on.
    Marigold "scarlet starlet" Â really dark orange. Gone next year
    Pennisetum Fountain Grass  got buried by faster growers
    Iresine  so beautiful, but way, way too hot pink
    Nicotiana  true red
    Gerber Daisies  true red

    Sweet Potato "blackie" Â great trailer, annual
    Cypress vine  true red, small stars. Fabulous ferny foliage, worth growing just for foliage.
    Rhodochiton  burgundy, but exotic and unusual. Delicate and small
    Sweet 100 cherries. Grew them in the veggie garden but they are joining the fray next year.
    Clematis "Asao" and "Niobe" Â both too pink. TheyÂll get moved.

    Anemone coronaria  true red!! Wonderful, long blooming, very early.

    Dahlia "Arabian Night" Â deep smoky red, reliable
    Dahlia "Bishop of Llandaff" Â deep red AND reddish foliage! DoesnÂt overwinter in my cellar though L
    Dahlia "Akita" Â red, orange and yellow cactus. Gorgeous
    Dahlia "swapper special" Â donÂt know the real name of this dahlia I got in a swap, but super hardy, early and long bloomer, nice true red. CanÂt give them away I have so many of them.
    Iris "Samurai Warrior" Â more burgundy, but stays because very little else is blooming at that time.
    Gladiolus  Black Jack  nice smoky red
    Gladiolus - Sensation  true red
    Gladiolus  Trader Horn  orangy, removed
    Crocosmia "Lucifer" Â more red than regular crocosmia, but still kind of orangy
    Calla Black Beuty  deep smoky burgundy red. A keeper
    Lilies  Monte Negro  nice red!
    Lilies  Fangio  too pinkish
    Lily "Blackout" Â a knockout! True red.
    Martagon Lilies  too orange
    Tulips  red emperor, red riding hood  deer food, sigh . . .

    Astrantia Moulin Rouge  love it! CanÂt wait for it to "bulk up". Technically more burgundy, but oh well, too nice, have to keep it.
    Primrose cherry red  double, beautiful, slow to bulk up, unlike my other primroses
    Daylilies  "Ruby Throat" and so many wonderful true reds, but I canÂt find my notes right now.
    Burgundy gaillardia  despite the name, I consider it true red.
    Hollyhock  almost black. Next year trying a seed swap red.
    Knautia macedonica  burgundy, but just the right form  airy, bulbous flower heads swaying in the breeze
    Geum Mrs. Bradshaw  too orange. Removing.
    Poppy  Allegro  too orange
    Poppy Brilliant  too orange
    Lobelia Cardinalis  true red! Wonderful
    Lobelia Cardinalis "Queen Victoria" Â true red! AND smoky red foliage. Perfect for the red bed.
    Heuchera Ruby Bells  true red bells! But leaves burned by too much sun.
    Heuchera Palace Purple  leaves too burned
    Penstemon Husker Red  flowers are completely wrong shade of lavender, but stems and leaves have a great smoky cast to them, and flower seedheads stay all year, even through winter.
    Phlox  Tenor  too pink and removed
    Potentilla Fire Flames  too orange, removed
    Peony "Karl Rosenfeld" Â pinky red, but so little else is blooming at this time of year, so it stays
    Fushcia magellanica  orangy, but kept anyways because itÂs the only hardy fuschia here
    Firecracker flower (dichelostemma) Â ho hum
    Monarda  one true red, one burgundy red. Keep them both because theyÂre so nice.
    Sedum  Autumn Joy  flowers go from light pink to dark dusty pink. Not quite right.
    Sedum  Matrona  red stems! And flowers are better than autumn joy. Will replace AJ when large enough
    Sedum Red Emperor  nice dark foliage! Susceptible to root rot.
    Hibiscus "Luna Red" Â very short, so I need to move to front of border. Have just bought new taller one, "Lord Baltimore". Ask me next year
    Chrysanthemum "Helen" Â wonderful dark smoky red. Need to propagate more of these.
    Sweet Williams "sooty" Â dark, smoky red, long blooming and early
    Poker Plant (Kniphofia) Â too orange

    Foliage Plants

    Canna  Red King Humbert ( dig tubers annually)
    Cordyline  Red Star Spike (annual)
    Japanese Blood Grass
    Bloody Dock
    Smoke bush "purple robe" Â great foliage!
    Weigela "wine and roses" Â ho hum
    Weigela "midnight wine" Â ho hum
    Red Barberry  gorgeous fall foliage, tough, nice background
    Red-leaved euphorbia

    Next yearÂs list of plants to find and try are:

    Red Sunflower
    Scarlet runner bean
    Sweet 100 cherry tomatoes on my obelisk
    Ruby chard
    Red clover

    Phew!! ThatÂs it for now, rather exhaustive list, donÂt you think? Sorry it took so long. Let me know what IÂm missing! Prefer perennials to annuals at this point. If you want seeds of anything email me late next summer and I will start saving.

    Here is the location of my new redbed album on picasa.

    Also, next year before the seed swaps let me know! I'll be happy to fill up a big package with lots of red seeds. 3 years on gardenweb and I never knew about the seed exchange!

  • rosefolly

    I too remember the pictures from last year. Your garden is simply stunning. I can't look at the pictures enough. A gathering of attractive plants grown together is always a pleasure, but a work of inspired garden art such as this goes way beyond that.


  • ssfkat3

    absolutely gorgeous!!! where can I find pictures from last year? I'd love to see the changes a year make :D I've never used a lot of reds before, but this sure has me thinking of all i've missed out on!!!

    I'd be proud to be your neighbor!!! (too cold for me though :D)


  • amazon

    I have some true red lily's you can email me if you would like some this Spring. They are called monte negro if you would like to look them up.

  • bindersbee

    Gottagarden- I have a plant suggestion for your garden this year. I was just alerted to this STUNNING red-leaved hibiscus. I can be grown from seed and will reach a height of 10 feet in a single season. The look is sort of like a Japanese maple but with beautiful pink blooms. Here's a link

  • gottagarden

    bindersbee - thanks for thinking of me. About midway in this post Remy suggests a red-leaved hibiscus without giving its latin name. I'll bet this is the same, so thanks for the name, and hopefully I will see Remy at the Spring GW swap and get some cuttings.


  • mora


  • lezard

    Hello I'm from Quebec Canada, you love red bed like me. To add with my amaranthus my favorite is canna australia, dahlia bishop children (from seed),purple majesty millet (from seed), hibiscus red... Look the picture of my red bed at.....

  • elaineoz

    Your gardens are inspirational! They are amazing! You have done a wonderful job on them. Thanks so much for sharing your photos, they are so enjoyable for me to look at!

  • curlykat

    This one I'm going to have to share with my DH. He started a red bed last year. Very nice!

  • gottagarden

    Lezard and curlykat, nice to know there are other red fans out there. Lezard, I enjoyed your photos, obviously you love red too! I had bishop of llandaff dahlias, but the tubers didn't overwinter for me. I really like canna Australia, so I will have to look for that one.

    Someone please stop me, I went shopping this weekend and came back with more red plants - sprekelia, dahlias, gladiolus, and calla bulbs. Like I needed any more!

    Almost thinking of making that bed larger . . . .

  • party_music50

    That is a *gorgeous* bed, and I am so envious of your space!

    I love the comments/notes you've made about each plant. I started doing that same thing two years ago (garden journal) and I find it to be very helpful for future reference. I try to note general bloom-times too, to help with any plant rearrangements.

    I've never done a 'color' bed... it's never something I've wanted to do, and I don't have much planting space anyway, but I would love having a red bed like yours!

  • lezard

    Gottagarden the red flower I saw is-it SALVIA COCCINEA LADY IN RED, because I bought seed of it from Thompson Morgan and I don't know if it will be flowering the first year from seed?????

  • gottagarden

    Yes, it's "Lady in Red". It should flower the first year from seed. I planted mine from tiny little 4 packs and they bloomed within weeks.

  • PattiOH

    Thanks to those who kept bumping this thread!!! I'm finally getting around to commenting.

    GOTTA! What a truly handsome bed you've created!
    Beyond the sheer beauty of it, and the wonderful use of red, you've done a lot of this without a background of trees and shrubs. THIS IS WHAT I'VE BEEN LOOKING FOR!
    My garden has fields behind it and I'm trying to use background plants that are grasses and tall perennials. I didn't think I could do cannas or amaranthus, but YOU HAVE and they are stunning!!!

    Thanks for the inspiration you've given me and so many others.
    (Your red bed and story belong in a future issue of "Fine Gardening"!)

  • gottagarden

    Thanks PattiOh! I'd like a background behind this flower bed, but trees and hedges take a long time to grow. I have started planting though :-) I put in purple plum, purple smoke bush, barberries, red weigela, copper beech, etc. so that in future years (five or so??) I will also have a red leaved background. Definitely be over-the-top red, probably tooooo much.

  • rubyfruit

    i LOVE your red bed!
    i love any monochrome gardens... but I especially love the dark reds - and I love how long it is, and how diverse!

    beautiful, I'm jealous!

  • hosenemesis

    Gottagarden, your red bed is spectacular. Thanks for the inspiration and the plant lists. I have my own red bed, and it will be much prettier next Spring.
    By the way, I share your shyness about appearing in photos; but heck, if I was a pretty as you I would have my photos plastered all over the internet.

  • gottagarden

    Hi Rubyfruit and hosenemesis,
    I did an update earlier this year with late spring and early summer flowers. I posted on the gallery side and here is the link. It's still unseasonably warm here, but as soon as it gets cold, I will go through my photos and try to post some new ones from this year.

    Hosenemesis - I just love your "handle"! Many, many times I have thought to myself that the hoses are the bane of my garden and your name captures it all.

    Here's one from this year showing the salvia and amaranthus running amuk:

  • jody

    WOW! A beautiful, absolutely unique red border. The front of my house is red too, but anchored by climbing red roses (actually mostly roses). If you don't mind, I am studying in detail to get ideas for other red blooming and red foliaged plants to use.

    I'm impressed that you got your cypress vine to climb on something. Mine climb all over the other plants and multiply with great enthusiasm. Thus far they have deliberately ignored any climbing supports I have provided for them :-) In the farmer's markets around here they call them cardinal vine.

  • moonphase

    Brenda,I am in the swap and would love to receive seeds from your red bed.I used amaranthus,love lies bleeding,red zinnia,red lantanas.red tassel flower,some red sunflowers and have a red passion vine growing on a fence.I put up 2 sections of split rail fence and have my red bed on both sides.since it is dividing my flower bed area from my vege beds.I have along way to go but you have really inspired me.I also have some red climbing roses and rose hybrid teas named big love..Can't wait to see your year 3 pictures.

  • MollyDog

    Absolutely beautiful...I love your color combinations.

  • swivelhips

    I am delighted to see these photos - never imagined the beauty that would result in the combinations you've used. Please send larger photos to me as you have time.

    You definitely need to add some of my red daylilies! A friend suggested I look at your Red Bed - glad I did.

  • gail_ish

    I'm glad to see this thread revived. I have been making up my catalogue orders. I'm planning new beds around the barns & there are a suspicious amount of red-flowered items on my list :)

    Seriously, I have been planning this red bed (in front of the gray barns - ooh, I can't wait), but the pictures in my head have faded somewhat. I truly forgot how stunning your border is, and hopefully how mine will be. Here's a picture of the barns I have in mind - it's where you drive in (you can just see the driveway at the edge of the photo):

    This has renewed my excitement!!!

    All the best,

  • jessica315

    I am amazed and inspired. Thanks for sharing....


  • bellarosa

    Hi Gottagarden,

    I loved this post when I saw it last year and I'm still LOVING this post! What an amazing gardener you are!! Can you tell me if the castor beans are easy to grow from seed? My sister is going to give me a few seeds. Also, do you have any Amaranthus seeds or tubers from the true red dahlia, that you can spare? Finally, what is the name of the sedum on the bottom right side of fourth pic? Its so pretty. I love to see your garden pics - I look forward to them every garden season!

  • gottagarden

    Hi folks,
    Yes spring is not far away now and we're all dreaming of new beds. I happen to be on vacation in New Zealand now and have not had access to the internet most of the time, so that is why I haven't been posting.

    Swivelhips, if you go to the link posted about 8 posts back, you can go to my picasa photo albums and see larger photos, and MORE photos.

    Gail ish, that gray barn will make the perfect background for bright and dark colors, like red ;-) I see tall red hollyhocks as a background in its future.

    Bellarosa, the red sedum is "purple emperor" or "red emperor", can't remember which. I bought both and the difference is one has bluish green leaves covered by red and the other has olive green leaves covered by red. This one is particularly prone to root rot here where we get summer rain. I am now putting in sedum matrona which is more reliable and has green leaves with red stems.

    Castor beans are very easy to grow from seed, I think I had 100% germination. They are slow to get going though, so you may want to start indoors, I think I'll do that this year.

    I do have both amaranthus seeds and red dahlias. The seeds I would send for free, but the dahlias are kind of heavy so would send for postage. Email me separately and let me know how many you are willing to pay postage for, I have so many and everyone in my garden club has already been given them :-) They are the most reliable dahlias I have ever grown.

    here's to dreams of spring . . . .

  • rosefolly

    I love this garden and love looking at pictures of it. So inspirational! I'm delighted to see this thread come up again.


  • trowelgal Zone 5A, SW Iowa

    Hi gottagarden,
    Thank you so much for being such a generous person. It took a lot of time to photograph then upload your pictures (stunning garden)and then to make the long list of what you planted. In additon, you were so sweet to answer everyone's questions. You are teaching your darling children that life is beautiful when you love the earth. They are spending time with Mommy outdoors, very valuable.
    I have some seeds of red Maltese Cross. Would you like some? Idea: Do you have a tripod for your camera? If so you could set up a lovely family photo in front of your red-bed and use it on Christmas cards. Put your family in white shirts and with all that red in the back it would be so dramatic. What do you think?
    I will keep checking in the summer to see if you post your year#3 pictures, they are delightful to see. Thanks again.

  • kathi_mdgd

    I love your red bed!! That castor bean will throw all kinds of seeds,i'm forever pulling them out of the lawn and the gardens.But they pull out very easily.

    I also love that red sedum in picture 5.I have several sedums,but not that one.

    Have you seen this,it's more red in person than it is in this picture.It's called Texas Star Hibiscus.

    I also have that ster shaped plant on the viney looking stems.A neighbor gave me some seeds and i potted them up,and they never came up that first year.Then last year i found them coming up in the ground around the corner from where i had planted them.Bird planting i guess!!

  • threeorangeboys

    Ohhhh New Zealand! Jealous!
    I'd also love some of your dahlias if you have more to spare. Of course, more than happy to pay you for them and/or postage. You inspire everyone here so much! Your gardens should be in garden magazines, truly.

  • schoolhouse_gw

    That is unbelievable. Just beautiful. It must be stunning in real life.

  • nckvilledudes

    First time seeing this thread and I echo what everyone else has said--FABULOUS. I have never grown amaranthus but inspired to try it after seeing your photos.

    I suggest clematis texensis the US native species. Those flowers are red and would fit in well. Not sure if I missed them but what about some snapdragons to get the garden off to a red start early in the spring??

  • luckygal

    Those pics are just amazingly beautiful! I'm now completely won over to reds altho have avoided most in the past. I look forward to seeing that bed again this year to see how it has matured. I've saved your plant list and hope there are a few really hardy ones there that will grow here.

    Cute kiddies too, bet they've changed in 2+ years also! :-)

  • gottagarden

    Well this is an old thread! The bed really hasn't changed a lot, just a few replacements and some new grasses.

    I will have to see if I can find that red clematis. I've got Niobe in there, but it's rather pinky red. Still beautiful with the lilies.

    I should try some snapdragons for early color. This bed is a bit slow getting started, but sizzles in the summer heat.

    Luckygal, yup! The kids have changed more than the gardens, but they still love it outside.

  • prairiegirlz5

    I don't know how I missed this the first time, I have a red bed too! Not as stunning as yours though. I have Pardon Me daylily and Paprika yarrow, the daylily is burgundy with a green throat, and the yarrow gets pinkish as it fades. But I wouldn't be without either one! Have experienced same problem with sedum, try mulching it with pea gravel. I love the amaranthus, red salvia, and castor bean. Will have to add those, and hollyhocks, and try cannas again this year. It's a dirty job, but someone's got to do it! :0)

  • Pamchesbay

    Gottagarden: Do you have any photos of your red bed from last year? I love it and am working on plans for a red bed at my place. I have a long driveway and think a red bed would be smashing!

  • woodyoak zone 5 southern Ont., Canada

    Definitely a stunning bed!

  • gottagarden

    I took a ton of photos last year, never got around to posting any. One comment, most of the photos look the same as the previous years :-)

    I've been adding a few grasses and moving things around to change the display a little.

    I will try to post some new photos sometime soon.

    Good luck with your redbed!

  • ghoghunter

    I was just thinking about your Red Bed and found it! I so love these flowers that I wanted the newer members of the forum to have a chance to see your beds. Now that it is seed saving time and soon we will be planning for our beds for next year I thought this would,be an inspiration!

  • kathi_mdgd

    Thanks Joann for bringing this back up,i love seeing this and can never get enough of it.Now if someone could give me more hours in the day,then i'd be a happy camper.

  • DYH

    Yes, it's good to bump this one back up for people to be inspired.

  • debby_1

    How is the garden this year. I just love the pics.

  • xiangirl zone 4/5 Nebraska

    Thank you for the inspiration. One of my goals this year is red. I've been collecting red seeds. I have the red castor beans and your photos were very inspiring of those! Thank you!

  • cenepk10

    Beyond beyond. Omygoodness ... Stunning ! How grateful I am you listed the plants I adore the cypress vine - and everything. What everyone else said !!!! I need me some Amaranthus. Thank you all. Loving those barns too

  • Jennifer_Ruth

    My thanks to both the creator of this bed and the person who brought the thread back up. I am so inspired that I immediately thought of a place in our yard for a red bed, and we'll be starting it tomorrow! Thank you, thank you, thank you. I wish you the best gardening year ever.

    One note about the castor bean, for people who are just learning about it--it's not just sort of poisonous, it's very poisonous. So take care where you put it, to keep children and pets safe.

    Off to make an inventory of all my red plants and seeds!


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