When the Pantone Color Institute speaks, artists, as well as graphic, fashion and interior designers listen. So do breeders and growers of annuals, perennials, shrubs and trees. The Institute’s Fashion Color Report cites a list of what it predicts to be the trend-setting colors for the new year.
“We absolutely” pay attention to the Fashion Color Report, says Dan Heims, president and co-owner of Terra Nova Nurseries. “Our range of plants covers an entire spectrum of matching flower and foliage-color possibilities. To be able to tie in to container colors and accessories for the home and garden market is essential.”
In fact, Terra Nova launched its first annual Garden Decorating Guide, which was created to educate brokers, growers, retailers, and landscapers about available Terra Nova varieties. The concept of the guide’s wheel-shaped design was based upon “color blocking,” in which plant varieties are grouped and displayed by color, and was inspired by The Pantone Matching System color guide and the general notion of home decorating guides and catalogs. Similar to resource materials for designers and consumers, Terra Nova Nurseries’ Garden Decorating Guide provides plant information unified with color trend forecasting and insights for the landscape, according to the company.
Angela Treadwell-Palmer is founder and co-owner of Plants Nouveau, a company that specializes in introducing and marketing new plants. She says everyone on the horticultural supply chain can use color trends to market their product.
“Growers and garden centers can react and talk up or display plants they already have in the trend colors to draw attention to them and shadow the fashion industry,” she says. “If you walk into Macy’s or Anthropologie and see all of their housewares and clothes are in shades of pink and blue you know the consumer will be looking for those colors. Luckily, plants come in a rainbow of colors and we can react quickly by focusing marketing efforts towards the plants that fit those color trends.”
The breakneck pace of today’s marketing has some growers keeping a close eye on color trends from the fashion world.
“You bet we pay attention,” says Alec Charais, marketing and communications manager at Bailey Nurseries. “With marketing now happening in real time, we engage with the public while that `trend’ is happening. This year was especially fun since the Pantone colors matched perfectly with our Endless Summer [hydrangeas]. Within seconds of our post about the 2016 Pantone Color of the Year being Rose Quartz and Serenity, we were having a lot of fun talking with people on social media about it, and then getting to talk hydrangeas on top of it.”
Mark Osgerby, marketing and public relations specialist for Proven Winners ColorChoice Shrubs, says Pantone trends “give a unique opportunity to talk about plants in a fun way during the off season, on social media, websites, etc.” He adds, “It’s important to take part in the color trend discussion, as our industry can provide decoration and color ideas to other industries and consumers alike.”
On a sobering note, Osgerby adds that it is a challenge for growers and garden centers to quickly react to color trends when it comes to landscaping. “At least for woody ornamentals it is. We can’t just cook up a new variety for next year’s color palette, grow it and deliver it in time for next year. However, with a wide variety of plants (more than 274 marketed under Proven Winners ColorChoice), we usually can align an existing shrub with pantone color trends.”
Charais concurs that it is a challenge to quickly react to color trends when it comes to landscaping, and there may be a lag in bringing new colors to market to meet consumer demand. “For the woody ornamental side, our ability to react to color trends isn’t as quick as those in the bedding plant arena. However, no matter what, color is always a huge component to what we do.”
Here are a few thoughts from Heims on how to match Pantone’s 2017 hot color trends with plants and shrubs:
‘Blue Panda’ corydalis and ‘Marina’ sedum would do well by Pantone’s “Niagara” color trend; a “Primrose Yellow” look could be created with ‘Citrine’ coreopsis and ‘Lime Marmalade’ heuchera; a “Pink Yarrow” color splash could be effected through the planting of ‘Pink Sapphire’ coreopsis and Shade Angel 'Aurora' begonias; and ‘Purple Heart’ hosta and can give a “Kale” color to the garden.
Treadwell-Palmer says black or maroon leaves with deep red or bright pink flowers is a huge trend in woody plants. “Think of all of the dark leaved weigelas and crape myrtles. In perennials, pastels seem to be making a comeback. Our echinacea ‘Rainbow Marcella’ is a huge hit because its flowers are a color combo like rainbow sherbet — very soft, yet gorgeous in garden settings.”
Charais says, “If you are talking flower color” then purple and bicolor are at the “top of the list” right now and will be for some time to come. “To give you an example, we see this with our BloomStruck hydrangea. The plant is beautiful when in acidic soils (purple flowers) and alkaline (rose-pink flowers). Yet, just like its predecessor, Endless Summer The Original, people are constantly looking for that deep, violet-purple, or blue color. Bicolors also do well as we have seen with our Easy Elegance rose collection.” In the end, however, he adds, color really doesn’t matter much if you don’t have a great plant that has hardiness, disease resistance, and performs for the end-user without constant attention.
No matter if you are designing dresses or gardens, it’s all about staying current when it comes to color.