'Illuminating' is a bright but not overwhelming yellow. 'Ultimate Gray' is a shade that resembles pebbles on the beach. Together, they represent hopefulness and resilience. According to the company website, "Illuminating is a warming yellow shade imbued with solar power that oozes with cheer". "Ultimate Gray represents earth's dependable elements which are everlasting and provide a firm foundation. No one color could get across the meaning of the moment. We all realized we cannot do this alone. We all have a deeper understanding of how we need each other and emotional support and hope.”

2021 colors of the year

Pantone 2021 in the garden

Home gardening exploded in popularity in 2020, and the trend shows no signs of slowing down in 2021. More people than ever are working from home; meanwhile home sales have skyrocketed over the past year. Additionally, there's a sustained interest in gardening as a hobby. So whether you're planning to stay safely at home and work in your own garden or perhaps you want to create a new one, Pantone's 2021 colors offer many options to consider.

In a happy coincidence, there are some very attractive plants displaying both of these colors on the same plant.

Santolina chamaecyparissus (lavender-cotton)

lavender cotton in bloom

Lavender cotton has amazing foliage that looks like silver gleaming in the sun. On cloudy days it resembles seafoam, and the plant displays a bluish cast in the evenings. The bright yellow one-inch flowers grow erect on wiry stems. Lavender cotton blooms from early to mid-summer. Deadheading will not prolong blooming or cause repeat blooming, but it does keep the plant looking much tidier.

Jacobaea maritima (dusty miller)

When you hear the name of this plant, it’s not hard to imagine a wrinkled old sailor with a silvery beard whistling a nautical tune while he works in his garden. As a specimen, dusty miller makes an artistic statement. The gray leaves and bright yellow blooms shout Pantone 2021.

dusty miller in bloom

Brachyglottis compacta 'Sunshine' (ragwort)

Silvery green leaves on sprawling downy stems create a cheerful display and show off the abundance of bright yellow blooms on this plant. It's suitable for hot, dry conditions and will grow in poor soil.

This versatile evergreen shrub slowly matures to approximately two feet by five feet in size. The showy yellow flowers bloom in June. Drought-tolerant and easy to grow, it looks beautiful in a dry border and combines well with just about any plant. Hardy to around 5°F.

ragwort in bloom

Verbascum thapsus (great mullein)

Great mullein is a statuesque biennial with a wide native distribution throughout Europe, North Africa and Asia. In its first year, it produces a rosette of large, silvery leaves covered in a dense layer of furry hairs. It adapts well to sunny, freely-draining soils. Hardy in USDA zones 4a-10b.

However, there's a caveat. Common mullein threatens natural meadows and forest openings where it adapts easily to a wide variety of conditions. Once established, it grows more vigorously than many native plants and can quickly crowd them out. It's also a prolific seeder. Seeds remain viable in the soil for a very long time. An established population can be extremely difficult to eradicate.

great mullien blooming beside a house

Gazania rigens 'Talent' (treasure flower)

Drought-tolerant and suitable for xeriscaping, this plant has average water requirements. Water regularly but do not over-water. This is a lovely plant; however, earwigs relish the flower petals, especially in areas of the garden receiving only partial sun.



Helicrysum argyropohyllum 'Moe's Gold' (golden guinea flower)


Blooming from December to May, the flowers remain fresh on the plant for almost two months and are everlasting when cut and dried. For the best results, harvest within a week of opening. To preserve, hang upside down in a warm, dry location.


Oenothera macrocarpa subsp. fremontii

This plant is a wonderful silver-leaf primrose variety that looks very similar to the common green leaf Oenothera macrocarpa and grows in similar situations. The bright, pale lemon-colored blooms are stunning beside the silver leaves. It's a strong grower when situated in well-drained, gravelly soil in full sun.

silverleaf rabbitbush

Chrysothamnus nauseosus 'La Plata' (silverleaf rabbitbush)

In spite of a botanical name that sounds very much to the contrary, this shrub is pleasantly aromatic. It has erect, slender, flexible hairy branches with dense clusters of small yellow flowers. Its native habitat covers vast areas of the western alkali plains where it adapts to both clay and sandy soils as well as windy conditions.

The plant provides a safe shelter for jackrabbits, hence the common name. It has been used by generations of Navajo as a source of yellow dye. Excellent for use as a natural hedge along fences, property lines, and driveways. Once established, it lives for many years.

yellow and gray together

Individual specimens

Of course, there are a number of individual plants that when used together display the yellow and gray Pantone 2021 color combo. Two I particularly enjoy in my garden are Stachys byzantina (lamb's ear) and the daylily Hemerocallis 'Stella De Oro'. They're rarely bothered by insect pests. Slugs and snails can sometimes attack lamb's ears, but they usually just like to hide among the leaves.They lay their eggs in the soil. Both of these perennial plants are hardy and easy to grow.

lamb's ear in the garden
(photo mine)