The Color of the Year, Adapted for Deer: Tangerine Tango in the Landscape

Pantone’s just released their top pick for 2012 color of the year – Tangerine Tango – so given the Garden Designers Roundtable topic for the month is deer – it seemed a perfect excuse to talk about Bright! Orange! Plants! for the deer-resistant garden.

While selecting a color of the year is an obvious marketing ploy, and not a terrifically effective one at getting me to rush out and buy things (I mean, are you going to go out and buy a Tangerine Tango-colored appliance as their press release suggests? I’m not even sold on the nail polish color!), it’s still kind of fun to think outside our usual color favorites and try something new. Especially in the garden!

A know a lot of deer-resistant gardeners feel like they can’t really “play” in the garden as much as they’d like. So many new introductions and planting trends seem like they’d be food for the deer. But I truly believe that in gardening as in life, an obstacle is just a challenge. If you look out for the shapes, textures, and colors you’d like to use and try to find unusual varieties of tried-and-true deer-resistant plants that fit those themes, you can enjoy pretty much any planting style in your deer garden.

So without further ado, here are some Tangerine Tango-inspired plants that can rock your deer-resistant garden – twenty brightly-hued varieties of those great garden standbys that you know you can count on in a deer garden.

sunrose or helianthemum rhododendron unique marmalade Kniphofia_Papaya_Popsicle_1b IMG_0616

From left to right: Helianthemum ‘Henfield Brilliant’, Rhododendron ‘Honey Butter’ (photo from Singing Tree Gardens), Kniphofia ‘Papaya Popsicle’ (photo from Terra Nova Nursery), Achillea ‘Paprika’

Salvia Lighthouse hakonechloa nicholas Echinacea_Coral_Reef_2b IMG_5251

From left to right: Salvia splendens ‘Lighthouse Red’ (photo from Proven Winners), Hakonechloa ‘Nicholas’ (photo from Singing Tree Gardens), Echinacea ‘Coral Reef’ (photo from Terra Nova), Leucadendron ‘Winter Red’

IMG_5601 Crocosmia_Twilight_Fairy_Crimson_3b chenomelesDTPinkStormimg_5306 IMG_6090

From left to right: Erysimum ‘Apricot Twist’, Crocosmia ‘Twilight Fairy Crimson’ (photo from Terra Nova), Chaenomeles ‘Pink Storm’ (photo from Proven Winners), Euphorbia ‘Fire Glow’

Leonotis leonuris Echinacea_Hot_Lava_1b Cornus midwinter Fire Acer palmatum 'Beni otake'

From left to right: Leonotis leonuris, Echinacea ‘Hot Lava’ (photo from Terra Nova), Cornus ‘Midwinter Fire’, Acer palmatum ‘Beni Otake’ (photo from Buchholz and Buchholz)

mandarin lights azalea Coreopsis_Cherry_Lemonade_3b calluna firefly Uncinia-uncinata

From left to right: Azalea ‘Mandarin Lights’ (photo from Singing Tree Gardens), Coreopsis ‘Cherry Lemonade’ (photo from Terra Nova), Calluna vulgaris ‘Firefly’, Uncinia uncinata ‘Red’

tangerine tango colored cushions for outdoor decorI hope these twenty Tangerine Tango-inspired picks inspire you to play with color in your deer garden for the coming year.

And if you’re unsure about using fiery orange plants, you can always experiment with paint colors or décor. These Tangerine Tango-colored cushions add a splash of color, and there’s no danger of the deer eating them!

See what my fellow members of the Garden Designers Roundtable have to say about gardening with deer:

Rebecca Sweet : Gossip in the Garden : Bay Area, CA

Lesley Hegarty & Robert Webber : Hegarty Webber Partnership : Bristol, UK

Pam Penick : Digging : Austin, TX

Douglas Owens-Pike : Energyscapes : Minneapolis, MN

Christina Salwitz : Personal Garden Coach : Renton, WA

Susan Morrison : Blue Planet Garden Blog : East Bay, CA

Debbie Roberts : A Garden of Possibilities : Stamford, CT

Want to read more?

Deer on a Diet: Tips for Gardening with Deer

Deer-Resistant Plantings You Can’t F*** Up

Oranges and Ambers Brighten the Garden

31 responses to “The Color of the Year, Adapted for Deer: Tangerine Tango in the Landscape”

  1. I wonder if anybody is going to make Tangerine Tango spades or pruners? They’d be ugly, but at least you’d never lose them.

    Unless we plant a garden full of the plants you mentioned, I guess . . . .

    • Vincent, I was thinking of the Dramm Colorstorm hoses, but they’ve got orange and red. Maybe they’ll do a special Tangerine Tango edition!

  2. Woo hoo! LOVE your post, Gen! I’m a huge fan of the color orange in the garden and love your take on this month’s topic. I’m now adding that orange azalea to my list of plants to try in my next design. Thanks!!

    • Thanks, Rebecca! I would never wear orange as clothes or accessories (I’m more a black or purple kind of gal) but I am starting to really love what orange does in the garden. So vibrant and alive!

  3. Hi Genevieve,
    Well I’m not sold on the nail polish either!
    And neither would I paint my rooms this colour, tho my sitting room is deep red!
    But I am taken with this magnificent array of garden zing and bling!
    Fab take on deer!
    I don’t think that is enough exclamation marks.

  4. Great plant picks, though you’ve clearly never met Japanese deer, if you think they won’t eat the cushions. I once saw deer eating a wooden sign that said “Do not feed the deer”.

  5. I love your “outside the box” thinking regarding bright orange colors and deer resistance, but two things come to mind.

    First, and maybe I’ve misunderstood your intent, but my hunter friends tell me they wear bright orange when hunting not only to prevent other hunters from shooting them by mistake, but that deer don’t see bright orange like we do ( if you are thinking the bright colors would be a deterrent to the deer). Second, and again I may be way off here since I don’t have problems with deer in my garden, but don’t folks experience the worst deer damage during winter months when other food sources are scarce rendering these beautiful selections ineffective?

    Admittedly, I am nursing a head cold and I may not be thinking clearly. ;^)

    • Ed, that’s an excellent point about deer not seeing orange. I don’t hunt so was unaware of that. I have had deer eating orange flowers in gardens I design, though, so I am not sure what to think on that.
      Some of the selections are great for winter interest, like the Leucadendron, Cornus, Calluna and Uncinia.
      Ed, I know you’re a conifer buff – are there any conifers you know of with tones similar to this, even if not as bright? I looked on the Iseli site and didn’t see anything, but would love to find some conifers that harmonize with this color theme.

      • Hi Gen – I must say, I came back today because I needed a shot of those orange colors to snap my mind out the fog! I find myself quite drawn to a few of your selections (even if they are flowers – argh!) such as the two Echinaceas and the Lions Tail (though I suspect that the LT is not hardy enough, even for our relatively mild winters – thoughts?). I do like the ‘Mandarin Lights’ Azalea and have suggested it to folks in harsh winter climate areas because of its surprisingly extreme hardiness.

        Regarding conifers with similar tones, well… you might have me on that one! ;^) Actually, there are a few conifers that slide into the outer realms of that hue during the winter months. Cryptomeria japonica ‘Mushroom’ comes to mind with its shades of bronze/orange/plum. Thuja occidentalis ‘Golden Tuffet’ with take on orange tones in winter, as will Juniperus horizontalis ‘Mother Lode’ and its daughter, ‘Gold Strike’.

        Of course, those intense orange colors really stand out in the summer against nice dark green or even bright blue or golden conifers. (Yes!)

        I may seem like a conifer grump, but really, I do play well with others. ;^)

        • Ed, as always, you’re a fount of information as well as a cheering person to chat with. I love your conifer suggestions! That Cryptomeria is totally gorgeous! Fluffy, soft, and bright. Love the others, too. ‘Tuffet’s a cutie. Thanks for giving your seasoned input on some good selections.
          I’d suspect Lion’s Tail is not hardy enough for you, either. Sorry for the bad news. It does go well in gardens near conifers, though. The deep green is so striking.

    • Thanks, Debbie! Aren’t the names great! I think the plant and nail polish manufacturers should get together and share names. Though I don’t suppose they share many customers!

  6. I’m surprised no one else has chimed in with, “not deer resistant here” comments… Acer palmatum, especially the cutleaf cultivars are catnip for deer here in the SF Bay Area. The “Summer Red” shrub is a Leucadendron salignum cultivar, and has proven reliably deer resistant for me. The Leonotis and the Kniphofia are also very reliable around here. I find that in northern California conditions the worst deer damage occurs in late summer into early winter, as native browse is mostly dormant and less “juicy” after the long dry season. Mid winter actually provides plenty of deer browse if we have had normal late fall rains to get the grasses growing again. Trampling of small plants can also be a serious problem with herds of deer.

    • David, yes, that’s the usual response to any article or book about deer – “but my deer eat all of that”!!! We just do the best we can with the deer we’ve got. Experimentation is key, along with the general tips for planning that you’ve mentioned.

      Thanks for sharing what’s worked for you – that’s so valuable to have that info. By the way, I adore your designs. I’ve seen your work on Michelle Derviss’ site and just loved your design style. Thanks for commenting here and sharing your expertise.

  7. I absolutely love this color in the garden! (Don’t psychologists say that people who are attracted to orange are eccentric?) Although I loved all the plants – you always seem to surprise me with a few I’m not familiar with – I’m so glad you introduced me to leucodendron (until you said what it was, I had no idea and had just marvled at the otherworldly blooms the other day here in NY, where I’ve only seen the plant used as part of tropical floral bouquets. In your pic, these backlit beauties looked like they were just on fire!

    • Thanks, Lisa! Yes, they do make lovely bouquets or landscaping plants. I have a client with one and I am always delighted whenever I get to prune it – free bouquets for all!

  8. Oh Gen these are wonderful! I think the Rhodo is my favourite and that’s not a plant I’m normally drawn to. Your site needs a ‘love’ button on it!

    BTW how do you get the photos to display so beautifully, is it a plugin or part of your theme’s design?

    • Thanks, Rachel!! To display the photos, I used a table. I use Windows Live Writer to create posts, so it makes inserting tables easy, and they have a lot of options that you can make into defaults, like the little shadowing on the edges of the photos.

  9. It’s a cold, grey, wintry day here in southwest England, and your post has just really cheered me up and made me think of summer. Will definitely try out some of your ideas – and love your fun take on this topic. Just reminded me – I need to add a box of tangerines to my Christmas online order. L

  10. Cheery…never would have thought about that as deer resistant. But I like how bold colors work to both excite and to ward off the undesirable! I also think some of the Epilobium I see (AKA Zauschneria) create a similar color effect.