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Show your PRIDE :: Grow Your Own Rainbow

by Mike Diamond
Friday Jun 19, 2009

Ah, June. The month when school kids are unleashed to terrorize the streets until autumn; when a shocking number of people will wear flip flops in public without benefit of a decent pedicure, and the air is redolent with the lingering scents of both honeysuckle and charcoal-singed barbecue sauce.

It's also, as any good 'mo knows, Gay Pride Month, when queers and their allies across the land commemorate the legendary Stonewall Riots, and also happen to party their freakin' asses off. Flying above it all is the Rainbow Flag, a multi-hued emblem of the community's vibrancy, diversity, and love of fabric.

This June, why not celebrate the festivities by growing plants whose flowers mirror the colors of the Rainbow Flag? Not only a fun, creative, earth friendly way to display your Pride, but all of your HGTV obsessed friends will gag with envy. Ha!

There are a few ways to go about this colorful summertime project. To create your 'flag' with annual bedding plants, one visit to your local nursery- or even Homo Depot- should do the trick. Currently, the colors of the flag are red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet (hot pink and turquoise were dropped along the way from the flag's original design). Some suitable flowering choices could include salvia (red, blue, violet), marigold (yellow, orange) petunias (blue, red, violet) zinnias (yellow, orange, red) and for green, the cultivar called 'Envy', ageratum (blue) flowering tobacco (yellow, red, lime green) and snapdragons (red, yellow).

Here are some suggestions:

Love Me Tender

For something more substantial and exotic, utilize so called ’tenderennials,’ which are non-hardy tropical plants that can also double as indoor plants when the weather turns chilly. (There is a recession going on dear). The best resource for this would be the online catalog at Logee’s Tropical Plants- the equivalent of horticultural porn for plant junkies like me. The go-to source for gorgeous garden and container plants, Logees has a huge variety of gorgeous specimens, which makes capturing the colors of the Pride Flag via flower power a snap!

Let’s start at the top of the flag. For red, Pentas ’Stars and Stripes’ features eye-popping deep red blooms as well as variegated foliage; the new Mandevilla sanderi ’Sun Parasol Crimson’ p.p. is a twirling vine that boasts a profusion of rich cherry red flowers all season long.

Orange You Glad It’s Pride?

Orange is one of those love it or hate it colors, and always provokes a strong reaction. Make the most of this screaming mimi hue with beautiful blooms like those on Hibiscus ’Flameball’, double petaled puffballs with random swirls and edges of deep yellow; or try Brugmansia ’Jean Pasco’ a small shrub with fragrant pumpkin colored trumpet blooms that fade to a lovely shade of peach.

Mellow yellow? Not with the vibrant, upright bracts of Pachystachys lutea "Lollipop Flower." The flowers themselves are tiny and white, but the ’Lollipops’ are actually composed of tiny sunshine colored bracts that last for weeks.

If sweet scents are your thing, check out Aglaia odorata "Chinese Perfume Plant." The blooms are tiny pale yellow affairs that give off a deliciously subtle and sweet fragrance.

It’s not easy being GREEN. OK, I cheated a little bit with this one, and stuck to foliage- leaves come in so many delightful shades of green! From chartreuse (Xanthosoma ’Lime Zinger’) to rich dark green (Gardenia nitida, the fragrant white blooms are fabulous) and everything in between. If you’re feeling particularly green, queen, why not grow a ’Persian lime’ (Citrus aurantifolia)? It keeps to the color scheme and comes in handy at cocktail time.

One last green factoid; for the past year, Logees has been implementing Integrated Pest Management, using predatory insects in their greenhouses, thus reducing their use of chemical sprays by 80%. Love it!

Singing The Blues

BLUE is a somewhat rare color in the world of flowers, so when it does appear, it always makes an impact. On the pale end of the spectrum, Hibiscus ’Cajun Blue’ has large crepe papery blooms in shades of the morning sky, while Dichorisandra thyrsiflora "Blue Ginger" is a late blooming tropical knockout with inflorescences of deepest azure.

Last but not least in our botanical rainbow is violet. Somewhere between blue and red, might violet be considered the bisexuals of the color spectrum? I digress.

I also drink too much.

The point is, violet is a hue well represented. To wit: Heliotropium arborescens ’Iowa’ produces grape colored floral clusters that emit a delicate baby powder scent; Salvia ’Purple Majesty’ is an easy growing bedding plant with aromatic leaves and amethyst colored blooms; Passiflora ’Monika Fischer’ is a fast growing vine that gives you drama honey; it’s flowers are an architectural wonder of purple, darkest blue and a hint of white.

The time has never been better to grow your own rainbow- grab your gardening gloves (and your tambourine and disco whistles), wave your flag, and work that pride!

Mike Diamond likes puppies!


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