Name The Colour Of These Flowers

While visiting the flower shows this year, I was drawn to a colour thread represented by the flowers I’m showing here. I’d filed the pictures as Clarets thinking ‘Anyone for claret?’ would be a good post title, but reluctantly concluded that claret was stretching things too far…

Heads of small bright pink flowers with lighter centres

Achillea ‘New Vintage Violet’

though not quite so far as the liberties taken in naming this ‘New Vintage Violet’…

Hydrangea flower and foliage with a lime green fern

Hydrangea ‘Dark Angel Violet’

or this ‘Dark Angel Violet’. Plant names are a minefield at the best of times, even before you add colour into the mix. 

Daylily flower with the dark feathery foliage of a neighbouring plant

Hemerocallis

The bold combination of the daylily against the dusky foliage of an adjacent plant was so striking, I completely forgot to note down the variety names, but it looks like another violet to me – dark violet perhaps (only teasing).

It’s easy to mock, but more tricky to put your finger on what would be better: Pinot Noir, raspberry, fuchsia, pale crimson, magenta, burgundy… I could imagine objections to all of these. Professional help was required. Pantone, famous for their colour expertise, would have a name for the colour of these gladioli:

Bold pink gladioli flower spikes with ferns

Gladiolus ‘Karaoke’

Problem solved. After consulting their site, I can confirm that, in the parlance of the day, these glads are Pink Peacock in hue. I don’t know if nature has given us any real pink peacocks, but Pantone asserts that the colour is tantalisingly theatrical, bold and experimental, and on trend.

Phew. I’ll leave you with a twist on the theme – a dahlia with pale upper petals as a beautiful contrast to their Pink Peacock reverses:

Dahlia flowers that have pale petals with deep pink reverses

Dahlia ‘Creme de Cassis’

I love the picotee effect and the light waving or rippling of the petals that gives them a subtle light and shade effect.

So there you have it. A selection of perennials to create a modern twist on the classic red border.

We’ll soon start hearing about the colour Pantone has identified as the guiding light for designers during 2019. Assuming the corporate influences that gave us Pink Peacock will still be in play, I’m forecasting the colour of the year 2019 will be Unicorn. What do you think?

46 thoughts on “Name The Colour Of These Flowers

  1. Peter Klopp says:

    From reading your post I get the impression that even the experts in botany are being fooled by the incredible variations in colour and hue of our beloved flowers. From my experiments with digital photography I made the discovery that even the camera cannot capture the true colour of a flower. Thank you, Susan, for your lovely post!

    • susurrus says:

      That’s a very good point – or rather several good points. One of the reasons I switched to using an iPhone for photography is that the colour representation was more accurate than my ‘real’ camera.

  2. David M says:

    I’ve often thought that some of the ornithologists naming birds must have been colour blind, especially in North America. I can see a Purple Finch as I type this, it’s raspberry red.

  3. FlowerAlley says:

    I have been befuddled by some color and flower names, also. I am not aware of the existence of a pink peacock, but have heard of a pink panther. Ha.

  4. Vicki says:

    The colour reminds me of the fresh Raspberries I’ve got in my fridge at this very moment.

    Pink Peacock is really stretching the imagination though. I thought peacocks were blues and greens.

    Beautiful flower images, Susan….in composition, focus, light and colours.

    • susurrus says:

      Thanks, Vicki. I’m fairly sure the pink peacock images a google search throws up have all been digitally manipulated, but you never know. I’ve seen some strikingly coloured birds when travelling that I wouldn’t have believed if I’d just seen a picture of them.

  5. Cynthia Reyes says:

    The colour names may be misleading, but I love every picture you’ve posted here. I wonder how much of these glorious colours are due to hybridization, vs. nature? Never mind….

    • susurrus says:

      It’s hard to be sure these days, although a lot can be done by what I’d think of as natural hybridisation, even if human hands do a bit of helping out with paintbrushes.

  6. Oddment says:

    I want that dahlia! What a bloom, and what a name! Surely all the above have at least a drop of black currant in them. Just as surely, naming colors is among writers’ and gardeners’ liveliest compulsions, but if the namer is a gardener-writer, then great energies are unleashed. Of course there is something to be said for Laurie’s suggestion to just go with “lovely.” Thanks for stirring up my Monday!

    • susurrus says:

      The dahlia has a definite flavouring of blackcurrant. I’m all for having fun and even poetic license with colours, but I’m still not convinced by violet for the first two. And while I’m being picky, most blue roses are decidedly purple.

  7. Heyjude says:

    I like the idea of wine names: Claret, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Rioja and so on and so on, I do like ‘Creme de Cassis’ for the Dahlia. I was thinking blackcurrant and cream before I reached the name. But as someone else pointed out they are all so lovely and there is so much fun in naming a colour 🙂
    PS These are some of my favourite colours so I thank you for posting such gorgeous photos.

  8. wigginswordsandimages says:

    Having used PMS (Panatone Matching System) colors for years as a designer, I’ve only known them by their numbers. I don’t think Pantone gave them names in those days! I would use magenta or fuchsia for most of those flowers. Fun post!

  9. creativeartphoto says:

    So beautiful flowers and pictures!!!
    I think I have just purchased one of the flowers you have mentioned as the “New Vintage Violet” – a dark purple yarrow. At my garden center it was called “New Vintage Red”. So I guess they keep coming up with new names for these new or old varieties and also have problems to decide what colour they are. 🙂

    To me the colour of this flower looks like maroon or almost burgundy. It is very beautiful variety indeed. I also got “Strawberry Seduction” yarrow and this one looks in fact more strawberry-red , but has yellow center. Both are very nice and are supposed to grow not too big, so I hope they won’t need support.

    • susurrus says:

      There is a series of them, including red, rose, violet and white. The plants I saw seemed tidy and compact. I checked out ‘Strawberry Seduction’ online – it looks like you’ve made some great choices.

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