Goofy colors of winter



Last year it was honeysuckle pink; this year it’s tangerine tango. Each year Pantone picks a color. This year’s shade, like last year’s, is resolutely loud and brash, notwithstanding the dim socioeconomic climate. The recommendation is aimed at fashionistas and home designers more than gardeners; I'm not saying that nurseries will be overflowing with red-orange plants this spring.

But I do like to use bright colors when it comes to forcing bulbs in the cold months. Like the bright yellow Golden Rain tazetta, the flame-orange Prinses Irene tulip, and the deep rose Double Hollyhock hyacinth. If all goes well, all three (plus Orange Princess) will be blooming this winter. I think the Hollyhock and the Irene are actually pretty close to the Pantone shades, if you don’t get too scientific about it.

It could be that I’m using them for the same optimistic reasons the Pantone people picked their hot pink and bright orange—for the aggressive cheer they’ll bring when other conditions are less than ideal.


The show has already begun with these Wintersuns, a mildly-scented tazetta with a nice bright yellow interior.

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regularly radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world,and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at


  1. I need the strong colours in the winter. Don’t be subtle! I need them in the spring too when things are waking up. In the summer give me blues, greens, whites and soft pinks.

  2. Agree that the annual Pantone color announcements don’t impact the gardening world much. Hybridizing plants to attain a particular bloom color is not yet as easy as mixing paint. Still, I do love Tangerine Tango. Dangerously close to orange, perhaps, but a dash enough of yellow and red to give it a lovely warmth.

    A few nurseries will run with plants next year that approximate the hue; can’t think of any offhand, but they’re there. Mixed with blue and yellow blooms, a tangerine-ish flower should rock. Mix it with red, you’ll puke faster than eating a melting Hershey bar with a room-temperature glass of red wine.


  3. Love, love, love ‘Prinses Irene’ and grew them out front one year with ‘Purple Prince’ tulips. It was loud and proud, but beautiful too. I’m all for whatever makes a gardener happy colorwise in his or her space. Happy Christmas!

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