Tangerine Tango: In The Garden

by Keith Recker

When Pantone asked White Flower Farm’s Barbara Pierson to comment on Tangerine Tango, Pantone’s 2012 Color of the Year, she jumped: it’s one of her favorites. Not surprisingly, Tangerine Tango is well represented in White Flower Farm’s 2012 assortment, as Barbara relates in her interview with Keith Recker, member of Pantone’s color studio.

Keith Recker: Please tell us what you do at White Flower Farm.

Barbara Pierson: My title is Nursery Manager and I am in charge of production (growing) here at White Flower Farm. We have 32 greenhouses and over 800 varieties of plants.  As company spokesperson I lecture and do videos on all types of gardening topics. I am also part of the Product Development team whose priority is to find the best new plants from breeders and growers all over the world.

KR: Are you a fan of Tangerine Tango, Pantone’s 2012 Color of the Year? What does it say to you?

BP: I am a huge fan of Tangerine Tango because it says “Delicious, Fun, and Saucy” as well as being a great color to mix into a garden or in pots. I love to combine it with shades of purple, chartreuse and yellow. It also reminds me of a pair of bell bottoms I had in the 70’s that were my favorite. OK, I’m dating myself but retro colors are the best!!

Hemerocallis Primal ScreamImpatiens Tango

KR: Because White Flower Farm is always “on trend,” I am sure that you have some Tangerine Tango in your 2012 assortment. Can you share with us how the color shows up in flowers this year?

BP: One of the best new varieties for 2012 is Petunia Potunia ‘Papaya’ which happens to be a fantastic mounding petunia covered with upward facing flowers. This shade of orange is showing up in the world of begonias, impatiens and perennials such as yarrow. Another example of hot Tangerine Tango is Hemerocallis ‘Primal Scream’ which is a large-flowered daylily bred by the popular hybridizer Curt Hanson. The flowers of Primal Scream are ruffly and almost 8” across! Another must-have this year is a New Guinea Impatiens that was bred for the sun called Tango. This is a favorite of our head gardener who loves to plant it in beds for bright splashes of orange which make all the plants around it shine.

Petunia Potunia PapayaButterfly BountyKR: How are you using Tangerine Tango in your mixed pots collections? What sort of combinations are recommending for Tangerine Tango?

BP: For Container Design, one of my favorites is Petunia Potunia Papaya combined with Butterfly Bushes: Buddleia Lo and Behold Purple Haze. We love purple with Tangerine Tango, provided it is in the blue-purple range. For a perfect complement, we have added the chartreuse of Ipomea ‘Bright Ideas Lime,’ a new sweet potato vine.  We call this design mix Butterfly Bounty, and it also has Geranium ‘Maverick Orange’ for more super Tangerine power.  Another hot Tangerine Tango design combination is called “Vesuvius” which combines a bronzey Cordyline ‘Red Sensation’ with Nemesia ‘Blue Bird’ and Impatiens ‘Tango’. You can go online at to see both combinations.

KR: Tangerine stands in vivid contrast with the necessary (and luscious) background of green leaves. Is that one reason for the big impact it makes in the garden?

BP: Tangerine simply bursts out of the garden due to the natural clean contrast of orange and green. The amazing thing about Tangerine Tango is that it explodes against dark green, medium green and even chartreuse. It really is a natural color combo that draws the eye to the orange without sacrificing the green. It only makes the greens look better!

VesuviusGeranium Maverick Orange

KR: Are you growing anything Tangerine at home this season?

BP:  This summer, I am going to grow Pepper ‘Ariane’ which is a vivid orange Sweet Bell Pepper that tastes as good as it looks. Combining edibles and ornamentals is all the rage, so plant an orange bell pepper with some Bronze fennel for a delicious and beautiful combo!

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All photos courtesy of White Flower Farm