Red Flax (Phormium)
red flax and blue cornflowers
There are many beautiful small coloured hybrid flaxes (Phormiums) with red-toned leaves and a variety of different New Zealand names to confuse the gardener - Maori Maiden, Maori Chief, and so on. My favourites are fountain-shaped and grow neatly, never getting too large. Names? Unknown, sorry.
The red flax in this early garden photograph used to grow by Middle Bridge alongside the path through Middle Garden. It stayed compact and neat while all around it plants expanded and filled out.
The red and pink sunset colours of red hybrid flaxes are like a unifying motif throughout my garden, and I'm always looking out for more in the plant sales I visit. The coloured stripes are subtle, and help break up the abundance of greenery. They look wonderful planted on the edge of a border alongside a green lawn, and contrast well with other shrubs and flowers.
Wallflower and Flax
Flaxes, or Phormiums, are also superb for growing in pots, where they don't seem to suffer, even if they're totally squashed in. Nothing seems to eats the flax leaves, and the old ones are easily removed with a sharp knife to keep the pot looking tidy.
Blue Forget-Me-Not and Red Phormium
I actually have quite a cunning flax scheme. I start my flaxes off in pots. These are usually neglected for some years, then I take pity on the plant and put it lovingly into a nice garden spot. Of course, a new replacement flax can now be purchased...
Warm Winter Colour
And in winter the red tones bring warmth to the somewhat dull colourscape of the garden. In certain light conditions red flaxes can glow as brightly as red roses do in summer.
Red Phormium Leaves