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I don’t like pink in the garden

Anne Latreille

Anne Latreille

October 26, 2012

‘I don’t like pink in the garden’, I declared to a friend a few years back. ‘I’m not going to do it. Instead I will have orange and soft yellow, lime green, cream and white, blue and mauve and purple.’ Well, I’ve managed this in the front garden – except for the crab apple tree, Malus floribunda. Luckily its blooms come out before anything else, deep pink then turning white.

My mystery bulb – can anyone name it?

The back garden, however, has taken on a life of its own. I’ve kept to my colour scheme in most parts but there’s a strip down one side onto which my mother-in-law, in the adjoining house, looked out. And she loves pink. ‘Guess I’d better put some in,’ I thought.

First I went with a pale pink spring-flowering bulb that I had been given in the mid-1980s. It’s the prettiest and most relaxed little plant. It makes its way in among so many others, and it always looks divine. Can anyone give me its name?

Cerise dianthus from Country Farm Perennials

Then, two ‘Ballerina’ apple trees. They came as a present. I’ve never really looked after them but they bear quite well – until the possums amble by in season and see how easy it is to reach the fruit, because they are columnar. Never mind, the blossom is lovely.

Next, a species gladiolus – white with a cerise throat – and some heritage dianthus acquired from Country Farm Perennials. Pink and white, pink and cerise. They enjoy my water-resistant soil as they sunbake on the gravel path.

Then, species geraniums – deep pink-purple and pale pale pink. No, I don’t know their names, but they are tough, too. They require little water and no TLC. I wish there were more plants like them!


The warm pink Velthemia flowers in the depths of winter and lights up the darkest space. This is an indestructible bulb that marches happily around the garden beds, resting its shiny dark green leaves on the soil. The wattlebirds wrap their claws around the thick stems as they snaffle up the nectar from the flowers.

There are two succulents with orange-pink blooms. One is flowering its head off right now and the other is getting ready. They sit next to a planter box made by Edna Walling that I was given as a gift a while back. (In it I’ve put a succulent with razor-sharp spearing leaves, to deter predators!)

Grevillea endlicheriana

My very favourite pink-flowering plants are different, but they sit next to each other. One is a native – soft pink Grevillea endlicheriana. It’s rarely without a flower or two and its fine grey-green leaves make a perfect picture.


Rosa ‘Stanwell Perpetual’





The other is an old rose – ‘Stanwell Perpetual’ from the early 1800s. It is well named because in the 25-plus years it has been growing at my back door, I have never seen it without a bloom – or without a bud that promises to turn into one.

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Tammy Schmitt
11 years ago

For a non-pink garden, it features some beautiful pink flowers! I love pink and have a lot of it in my garden. I mix it with everything, except red. Actually, I did accidentally mix it with red once and it was a disaster. I don’t know what your mystery bulb is but it’s beautiful. It looks like a type of gladiolus.

anne latreille
anne latreille
11 years ago
Reply to  Tammy Schmitt

I don’t think it is a gladiolus because of the round shape of the blooms. Species glads stretch their petals outwards rather like little open hands (in my limited experience). This one turns its petals in.

Janet Gitsham
Janet Gitsham
11 years ago
Reply to  anne latreille

In response to your mystery bulb, I believe it is a Tritonia lineata ‘Rose Lace’, I have several growing in my own garden and have found they are somewhat slow to multiply. Photographs can be found on Google Images. They most commonly come in a salmon-orange colour, Tritonia crocata also known as ‘Flame Freesia’. Tritonias originate from South Africa and there are a total of 28 species. Articles along with accompanying photographs can be found on the Pacific Bulb Society website (one of my favourite). Your Tritonia looks amazing with your apple/spice-scented Pelargonium. I will do the same in my garden!!!

anne latreille
anne latreille
10 years ago
Reply to  Janet Gitsham

Janet, thanks for this, sorry I have only just seen your comment (!) I have looked on the web at Tritonia lineata ‘Rose Lace’ and it’s not quite the same as the plant in my garden. There are two main points of difference. First, the flower petals on my plant remain curving inwards even when it’s at its peak. It has quite a modest demeanour! Second, the colour is a very pale pink with pale green ‘veins’ running through. I asked the late Dame Elisabeth Murdoch’s head gardener, Michael Morrison, to ID it not so long ago. He is a plant guru. He says he has the name but I haven’t yet collected it. So now I have a good reason to get in touch with him, and will post his response in due course. Thanks for your feedback!

Peta Trahar
11 years ago

I really love pink and have devoted a large raised garden bed to it. Burgundy and grey are allowed too, oh and Puyas because I’m a masochist. i think your mystery bulb is a type of Watsonia certainly I think it’s in the Iridaceae family.

Julie Thomson
11 years ago

I agree Anne, that there are pink moods we go in and out of in the garden.

I am having a bit of a red stage at present, and being in the sub tropics, things are quite vibrant when they come into bloom, eg hippeastrums, day lilies, geraniums and some red petunias. But I do like the pink you have shown us. I am partic fond of that lovely velthemia and can see a shady spot off my back deck for it. Would it like some sun also in the morning? We have trimmed back a big shady tree and so it’s more exposed underneath for a few months til it re-shoots. . hope the marauding birds don’t harm it though.
Thanks for the post.

anne latreille
anne latreille
11 years ago
Reply to  Julie Thomson

Julie, the plant is as tough as teak. In my experience, that is – the subtropics may be a different matter, the leaves are quite fleshy. I have plenty of spare bulbs if ever you are in Melbourne! I grow it in full sun adjoining a quince tree, where it doesn’t get watered, and in full shade under the big old olive tree – both environments are realy tough given the root systems of the trees. And it is springing up in other places in part-sun, part shade. Your red garden sounds great! Different shades of red are splendid – particularly if you mix them up with pinks and oranges and carmine/purple. Sorry to take a while to acknowledge, have been busy with my daughter’s wedding!

11 years ago

As a child I was perpetually dressed in pink while my sister was always dressed in blue. For this reason, for most of my life I have shunned pink!
I am now beginning to appreciate it more – I love pink in the garden and now even wear it. True pink, like the pink of Hakea ‘Burrendong Beauty’ is such a warm, romantic colour; but I don’t like salmon pink much, which is what I regard as a cold colour.
Of course, each to their own, but as I age, I am appreciating pink colour much more. And some of the pinks of roses are just superb –
I have grown Rosa ‘Stanwell Perpetual’ and it is really a delightful hardy little rose.

anne latreille
anne latreille
11 years ago

‘Hardy’ is the right description! I’m just back from almost three weeks away during which time the garden was watered only once. Stanwell Perpetual hasn’t missed a beat. Wish I could say the same for some of the other plants.