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We adore colour here at Ashridge. Find us a plant lover who doesn’t. So we’re excited to get on board with Pantone’s Colour of the Year, the energetic-sounding Viva Magenta.

Pantone Viva Magenta Pantone Viva Magenta

Pantone describes its 2023 hero as ‘A shade rooted in nature… brave and fearless.’ Closer examination reveals a rich, saturated wine – or claret if you prefer – washed with raspberry and hints of blackcurrant. Delicious.

Of course, you could get busy with a roller and transform your living room into the cosiest of dens. But we’re looking forward to seeing how Viva Magenta plays out in a garden setting. What vibes will it bring? How will it make us feel? Which plants come closest in tone to Viva Magenta, and how should we combine them to best effect?

Basics first. Viva Magenta is very much on the hot spectrum colourwise. It’s warm, inviting and full of depth. It will make you feel happy, and could even arouse passion and excitement… Because warm tones appear to advance, it can make a space feel smaller, thus cosier.

Introduce this cosiness to a small courtyard garden and you’re in for a treat. With borders and containers brimming with wine and raspberry tones, you’ll feel cosseted and cocooned. In a larger garden the colour will bring warmth and contentment, without being overpowering or too hectic.

Albutt Blue Sweet Peas compliment Viva Magenta in the garden! Albutt Blue Sweet Peas compliment Viva Magenta in the garden!

You can mix Viva Magenta with other colours in a complementary planting scheme, too. Try it with cool pinks, pale icy blues and olive-coloured foliage. For the pinks, think Astrantia ‘Star of Passion’ or Gaura ‘Gaudi Pink’. Icy blues to suit include Agapanthus ‘Fireworks’, ‘Albutt Blue’ sweet peas and the pale blue delphiniums, while dusky green leaved plants such as Hebes ‘Heartbreaker’ and ‘Magic Summer’, woolly lip ferns, Yucca gloriosa and eucalyptus provide a classy, restrained backdrop.

But the stars here have to be those burgundy/cherry beauties that match, or at least come close to Pantone’s Viva Magenta. Here’s our pick of the best.

The rose
Rosa ‘Charles de Mills’
Gloriously fragrant RHS AGM holder, perfect grown as a shrub or a loose, informal hedge.

The dahlia
Dahlia ‘Cornel’
A tactile ball dahlia to around 1.2 metres, ideal towards the back of a border.

Cornel dahlia tubers to plant from March onwards Cornel dahlia tubers to plant from March onwards

The spring bulb
Tulipa ‘Kingsblood’
Although a little late for this year, keep the Viva Magenta theme going next year with this tall, strong tulip with an elegant hour-glass shape for late-spring colour in pots and borders.

The border biannual
Erysimum cheiri ‘Vulcan’
This warmhearted wallflower is the perfect partner for tulips and will bring fragrance and a long-lasting splash of colour to the border.

The tree
Malus ‘Director Moerland’
Deep wine-red blossom in spring and near-matching new foliage, plus autumn crab apples.

Director Moerland Crabapple Flowers (Malus x moerlandsii) Director Moerland Crabapple Flowers (Malus x moerlandsii)

The border perennial
Salvia greggii ‘Cherry Red’
A brilliant performer, in pots or a sunny border, with a flowering season from May to September.

The winter star
Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’
Deservedly popular dogwood; cut it right back in spring for luminous new red stems the following winter.

The climber
Clematis ‘Niobe’
A sumptuous RHS AGM winner that flowers from May to September, reaching around 3 metres.

Niobe Clematis Plants Niobe Clematis Plants

The bedding plant
Cosmos ‘Antiquity’
Weeks and weeks of burgundy flowers, ideal in pots or to fill gaps in borders – and bees love it.

This is just a taster of the Viva Magenta plants you can grow in your garden, but there are heaps more. Consider, too: Rosa ‘Deep Secret’, Rosa ‘Etoile de Hollande’, Rosa ‘Lovestruck’, Dahlia ‘Baccara’, and Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia Creeper),

We hope we’ve inspired you to have some fun with colour this year.

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