In my time I have created several hot borders in public spaces.

And the search for strong scarlet red to fix and hold the eye has always figured.

Two Crocosmias are indispensible for this effect at this time of year, when there is actually rather much too much eggy yellow around.

There is little doubt where the eye will settle in the photo below:

It is of course the famous ‘Lucifer’. The name which the breeders, Blooms of Bressingham, chose is certainly apt. While the word has become synonymous with the devil, it literally comes from the latin meaning ‘Light Bearer’.

And boy does it.

It is the flaming torch to end them all!

The pleated fresh green foliage is fabulous and the upturned flame – like sprays of flower are the high value shock that you do or don’t want in your border!

Christopher Lloyd rightly pointed out that if ‘Lucifer’ has a problem it is its tendency to loll around. Staking is a bit of a faff and I avoid it like the plague. I find that growing this plant in other borders surrounded by perennials of an equallish height gives it enough support. You can see here, in the photo above, that it is supported by the Salvia to the left but not elsewhere. But personally I don’t mind my perennials being a little relaxed. The border is not after all a parade ground!

For shock value at a lower level – knee high as opposed to neck high – ‘Vulcan’ is hard to beat:

There are few more reputable plant breeders than Blooms and this is another of their selections. Again well named, because Vulcan was in Roman mythology the smithy to the gods and very much part of the underworld.  They believed that volcanoes occurred when he let his furnace get a bit out of control!

But ‘Vulcan’ in your borders is more biddable. Low enough not to need staking, these nursery divisions given to me a year ago are already a useful colour source in a new border. In time they will bulk up to make dense incendiary clumps.

I picked a flower from each of these types of Crocosmias yesterday and really could not tell them apart.

So there you have it – exactly the same colour value at two different heights.  Always a good trick for unifying the border.

Robert

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