Pantone released its 2021 color of the year this month, and it is a pair of colors! Ultimate Grey (17-5104) and Illuminating (13-0647) are “a marriage of color conveying a message of strength and hopefulness that is both enduring and uplifting”. Sounds like a great perspective for the coming year!
Yellow is commonly considered in the landscape, with sunny yellow flowers, yellow fall foliage, and even yellow berries. Grey is not a typical flower color but it does appear as a neutral color in plant foliage. Grey is a very useful color in the garden, it helps blend otherwise disparate colors. A designer’s trick is to weave grey through a colorful garden bed to keep things looking cohesive.
In the spirit of Pantone’s selections for the year, here are some of my favorite plants that show off these colors!
Artemesia schmidtiana ‘Silver Mound’ is a fine textured, grey perennial. I love this because it is all about texture and playing a supporting role to other colorful plants. It doesn’t bloom in any conspicuous way, but retains its mounded form in the perennial border.
Alchillea ‘Coronation Gold’ is a tried and true variety of Yarrow that has a bright yellow bloom. Its foliage is finely cut and textural. This is a great perennial for the border, it is drought resistant, a beautiful cut flower and it even dries well.
Another wonderful grey perennial is Ghost Fern, Athyrium ‘Ghost’. It has silvery grey foliage that brings lots of light to a shade garden or woodland border.
Willow-leaved sunflower is a classic yellow perennial for the border. Helianthus salicifolius ‘First Light’ is a bit smaller than some varieties, reaching 3 to 4 feet tall. This plant is deer resistant but attracts all of the good wildlife like bees, butterflies and birds! It booms in fall in full sun and is a great as a cut or dried flower.
As you look forward to 2021 and dream about warm days outside, I hope these colors and ideas inspire a garden that is “practical and rock solid but at the same time warming and optimistic.”