At this time of year a lot of people who like to pretend to be experts armed with crystal balls predict trends with a concerning degree of confidence.
Pantone’s Color of the Year is selected in a process the company says is “the culmination of macro-level color trend forecasting and research.” I think that means they pick colors that they know are likely to get people talking and therefore mention “Pantone” millions of times.
Last year’s color—Viva Magenta—was a hit with gardeners who found plenty of ways to work the color into their gardens and stay “on trend.” The 2024 Color of the Year—Peach Fuzz—is even more garden-friendly.
Let’s just say that with that color I am a gardener ahead of my time. Many of my favorite garden flowers fall in that peach to apricot color range. In snapdragons (Antirrhinum), both the Chantilly and Madame Butterfly series have gorgeous peach bloomers. Strawflower (Helichrysum bracteatum) and Calendula also have beautiful peach varieties that are easy to grow. And there are too many excellent peach varieties of Dahlia to name, but I’ll give you one I grew last year: ‘Lakeview Peach Fuzz.’
If anything, I think Pantone played it safe with its 2024 color pick, so allow me to lay down my own garden color trend prediction: silver. Gray might be on its way out for interiors, but in the garden, I predict you’ll be seeing lots of silver.
Of course you’ll have to permit me a wide berth in the definition of the color because much as gardeners like to call purple flowers blue, when it comes to plants, silver typically refers to the grayish-green or blueish-green color usually found on foliage.
Senecio candicans Angel Wings, which sports very gray leaves, has been catching gardeners’ eyes for several years now, but it can be a bit tricky to grow and won’t tolerate too much moisture or humidity.
A new dusty miller (Centaurea) called Silver Swirl has bold silvery white leaves with wavy edges. It’s only hardy down to zone 6b, but who cares? It will be an amazing in containers or grown as an annual.
There’s also a cute new lamb’s ear (Stachys byzantina) called Little Lamb, that falls on the sage green side of the spectrum but will make an excellent small-textured groundcover in areas with good drainage.
Artemisia ‘Silver Lining’ is a hardy perennial (zones 4 to 9) that will work equally well in containers. At 12 to 16 inches tall by 32 to 36 inches wide, it will fill a nice space in the garden, but is said to be a better behaved than some more aggressive Artemisia. Its pointed leaves offer a great deal of interest beyond just its excellent color.
The need for sharp drainage and drought resistance are common factors of silver plants, many of which get their color from the tiny, soft hairs on their leaves that reduce transpiration and keep leaves cool.
And I’d be remiss if I didn’t include a couple of my all-time favorite silver plants: silver sage (Salvia argentea) and Plectranthus argentatus Silver Shield, both of which I grow almost every year.
My prediction that silver will take gardens by story is not based on the kind of “macro-level forecasting” that Pantone uses, but rather an excellent variety of silver plants now available to gardeners.
Oh, and did I mention that silver looks great with Peach Fuzz?