Edibles that double as ornamentals, smaller water features and Mediterranean style among next year’s gardening trends.
Nov. 4, 2011 – We looked at recent garden trends surveys and interviewed gardening experts to get an idea of where things are headed.
Water-wise plants, products
“I think the thing that is most on our minds right now as professionals is issues surrounding gardening and water, whether it’s the use of water or the cleaning of water,” says Sharon Coates, co-owner of Zaretsky and Associates, a landscape design and build firm in Rochester, NY.
In light of some of the droughts recently experienced in places like Georgia, Texas and the Carolinas, explains Coates, people are trying to use the water they do have more frugally. “People are making sure they’re watering responsibly, choosing plants that aren’t water hogs and putting rain sensors on their irrigation systems. They’re also making sure the irrigation is monitored so it’s not watering the driveway and sidewalk.”
Water-wise plants will also make the Mediterranean garden style (above) hot in 2012, says Genevieve Schmidt, a northern coastal California landscape designer and well-known garden blogger (North Coast Gardening and Garden Rant). “Of course, the vivid colors also help make this a winning style.”
When it comes to cleaning the water – especially stormwater carrying pollutants like fertilizers and motor oil into local waterways – many people are turning to rain gardens. “These shallow depressions are filled with deep-rooted plants and grasses – many of them noninvasive, native or locally adapted – that can handle being indundated with water and also don’t mind being dry,” says Coates.
Some of these deep-rooted plants are especially good at this cleaning process, now being called “phytoremediation.” For instance, a team of University of California scientists (right) has used the densely fibrous root structure of Tropicanna® cannas to filter out fertilizers, pesticides and other contaminants from the wastewater runoff of several Southern California nurseries for more than a decade now.
“Many gardeners are catching their own rainwater in rain barrels and cleaning or recycling grey water (wastewater from domestic activities like laundry, dishwashing and bathing)” adds Anthony Tesselaar, cofounder and president of Tesselaar Plants. “In fact, in many municipalities now, saving water is not only ‘in’, but mandatory”.
Others, says Coates, are turning to the permeable pavers now being made by a lot of manufacturers. “Not only are we keeping chemicals and pollutants out of our water system, we’re helping to recharge our aquifer.”
Value over price
In an uncertain economy, consumers are making sure that what they do spend their money on won’t be a waste, so they’re looking for low-risk, high-value plants that not only look good in the garden center, but that have a tried-and-true reputation.
In fact, 51 percent of those surveyed in the Gardening Trends Research Report’s Early Spring 2011 survey said they chose plants based on “quality,” – up 4 percentage points since 2009. In contrast, only 27 percent said they shopped based on price.
“Plants bred to withstand attack from pests and diseases that are also tolerant of climate and soil extremes are increasingly sought after by gardeners and landscape designers,” adds Anthony Tesselaar, cofounder and president of Tesselaar Plants (developer of the low-maintenance, disease and drought-resistant Flower Carpet® roses, Festival™ Burgundy cordyline, Storm™ agapanthus and Volcano® phlox).
“Gardeners are more aware than ever that choosing the right plant for the right situation is imperative if you want to help save the planet – let alone your bank balance!”
Edibles as ornamentals
“Edibles are becoming slightly less trendy as people start to find that with pest problems and having to water all the time, they may not enjoy vegetable gardening as much as they thought,” says Schmidt. “But, really beautiful varieties of edibles that double as ornamentals will be very hot. There’s no reason to grow something that you can buy at the farmer’s market, but things like alpine strawberries (right), cone-shaped cabbages, etc. will be very cool as oddities in the garden that you can eat.”
Indeed, plans for adding vegetable gardens were reported by 43 percent of households, down 5 percent over last year, according to the Early Summer 2011 Garden Trends Research Report – the latest national consumer survey conducted quarterly for the past several years for the Garden Writers Association Foundation. Perhaps it could be the economy, though, with the same study showing a 5-, 9-and 4-percent decrease in the addition of annuals, perennials and herbs, respectively.
Black and amber
“Black plants are still very hot,” says Schmidt, “and as people learn to design with
them more effectively, they’ll only become more popular.”
Amber shades, she says, are also very hot – “Amber heucheras, the Amber
Flower Carpet roses, and other plants with amber tones are going to be big
in nurseries this year.”
In colder areas, where the blooms are gone and deciduous leaves have fallen, Zaretsky is seeing more people leave their ornamental grasses and invest in plants that offer winter interest, like berries, evergreens, barks of different colors and textures or
deciduous trees and shrubs with dramatic forms. But they’re also adding plants that change with the seasons, offering new interest with each.
“Customers have grown tired of the stark, all-season gardens that were so fashionable a decade ago,” says Tesselaar. “Every garden needs its backbone of plants that look great year round, but that doesn’t have to be at the expense of seasonal interest and color.”
Smaller water features
“Over the last several years, there have been a lot more ponds, but now people are gravitating toward smaller, self-contained, recirculating fountains or water features,” says Coates. “Now people prefer a cut piece of stone, a bolder or a beautiful glazed urn with water bubbling out of the top.”
Coates thinks it’s a maintenance issue: “People either have to be really into ponds and all the maintenance they take, or they have to hire someone to do it for them.”
What’s more, says Schmidt, fountains made with natural stone or metal are way hotter than features made of manmade materials, “The ball-shaped fountains made of stone are very big this year,” she says, “and I think that copper and other metals are coming into fashion as accents in fountains and as materials for planting containers.”
Curves and mounds
It is no longer hip to be square. Soft free-flowing lines are back in vogue. New lawns and garden borders are much more likely to be curvaceous than straight.
Shrubs with compact but free-flowing, fluid growth habits fit the look and are useful for softening hard edges. Particularly useful in smaller gardens, compact flowering shrubs such as Flower Carpet Roses offer attractive natural shaped mounds of tight, bright-green foliage, topped with clouds of color.
More front yard gardens
The number of front yard gardens is on a steady rise (29 percent in 2011, compared to 27 percent in 2010 and 25 percent in 2009), according to the Garden Trends Research Report’s Early Spring 2011 survey. Meanwhile, the number of backyard gardens has taken a 3-percent hit, down from a stable 50 percent in 2009 and 2010.
As documented in the new, popular book “Garden Up” by California garden designers Susan Morrison and Rebecca Sweet, a rising number of people have turned to vertical gardening. This practice of growing plants up from the ground instead of out, or of planting them up and off the ground to start with – on trellises, arbors, balconies and walls – has become especially popular among those with small spaces, landscape eyesores or an awkward “skinny spot” in their garden).
But Zaretsky and Associaties’ Sharon Coates’ also notes the growth of a different kind of “gardening up” – green roofs.
“Green roofs have definitely been more of a commercial application and have been done more urban areas – but they’re still a huge trend,” she says. “Green roofs help save on heating and cooling costs and actually protect the roof underneath from the degrading effect of the elements, so cities have received tax incentives for green roof installations.” Some cities, like Toronto and Chicago, are even starting to require green roofs.
Today’s resource-conserving attitude also includes the use of energy-efficient lighting. “There are always new landscape lighting fixtures that are less power-consumptive” says Coates “It’s especially appreciated by those of us in northern climates where half the year, it’s so dark all the time.”
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Tesselaar Plants searches the world and introduces new plants for the home garden, landscape, home décor and gift markets. Tesselaar Plants undertakes extensive research and development of its varieties and, once selected for introduction, provides marketing and promotional support for its plant brands through its grower and retail network. Tesselaar’s portfolio of plants is small by design, given rigorous standards that result in high-quality, dramatic, prolific plants that are also environmentally friendly and exceptionally easy to grow.
The Tesselaar philosophy is to introduce exceptional plants while “making gardening easy” for everyone, so it makes them widely available as possible. Tesselaar believes that the more gardeners there are, the better it is for everyone.
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