Just like the fashion and design world, trends can also affect the gardening world. From influencing the types and colors of plants found at the garden center and used by landscapers, to book topics, and more, gardening is influenced, for better or worse, by trends. During the first few months of 2014, we’ll be taking a look at garden trends and other things that influence the world of gardening.
There a few organizations that help to set trends, and also take note of trends. Plant organizations, such as the Perennial Plant Association and All-America Selections list plants of the year that will likely show up at your garden center. Pantone selects a color of the year. And the Garden Media Group (a PR firm) releases an annual trends report. In the 2014 Garden Trends report, we see the following trends affecting gardening:
1. Ground Up (Composting/Sustainable Gardening)
2. Super Foods Super Models
3. Drink Your Yard (Fermentation Gardening)
4. Dress Up Your Yard
7. Simple Elegance
8. Frac’d Up
9. Young Men Get Down & Dirty
10. Think Gardens
11. Fingertip Gardening
12. Tree-mendous Reversal
I’ll kick off the conversation here by sharing some of the topics I have written about in the Charleston Gazette-Mail, where I write the weekly gardening column on Sundays. You’ll notice that we will feature theses trends as weekly topics on our Facebook page and other social media outlets in the next several weeks. Be sure to join us for the journey and add your own two cents.
Plants of the year
There are several different organizations that pick their own plants of the year, so I’ll just mention a few. The Perennial Plant Association (www.perennialplant.org) chose an ornamental grass as the ‘Perennial Plant of the Year’ for 2014. Panicum virgatum‘Northwind’ is a tall, native switchgrass that turns golden yellow in the fall. (We’ll have a profile of this plant in the near future)
Radiant Orchid is the Pantone color of the year. (Photo: pantone.com)
All-America Selections (www.all-americaselections.org) is an organization that releases an annual list of vegetables and bedding plants based on variety trials around the country. This year, the national winners included the ‘Mamma Mia Giallo’ pepper, ‘Fantastico’ and ‘Chef’s Choice Orange’ tomatoes, ‘Mascotte’ dwarf French bean, ‘African Sunset’ petunia (it’s brilliant orange), and ‘Sparkle White’ guara, a delicate-looking yet tough, drought-resistant perennial. The neat thing about the AAS program is that their winners are grown at display gardens around the country so you can get up close and personal with the plants. To find a display garden near you, visit their webpage.
Color of the year
Each year, the Pantone Color Institute (www.pantone.com), the company that acts as the standard-keepers for colors for everything from commercial printers to the U.S. Patent Office, selects its color of the year. This year the color is “Radiant Orchid,” which is based on the purple-pink color in the Phalaenopis orchids you see in grocery stores and garden centers. While this color is most commonly seen in fashion and home decorating trends, you will also likely see an increase in the number of flowers at the garden centers this year with similar color profiles.
Collecting kitchen scraps in a compost pail. (Photo: John Porter)
The Garden Trends Report (www.gardenmediagroup.com), lists composting as a top trend. More and more gardeners are interested in reducing the amounts of inputs they put in the garden — from fertilizers to chemicals and more.
But gardeners are going beyond that and adding more sustainable practices, such as collecting rainwater, using recycled materials in the garden, and more. Sustainability is not just about being environmentally conscientious though. It’s also about choosing practices that are more economically sound (cheaper) and thinking about your neighbors when you make decisions.
Further reading: “Sustainable practices enhance environment” John Porter (Charleston Gazette-Mail)
Growing more food
Vegetable and fruit gardening has been on the rise over the past five years now, and the trends looks to continue into 2014. The initial interest was fueled by the crashing economy, where people decided to be more self-reliant in the face of higher food costs and smaller paychecks. But the interest continues now that people are more interested in knowing where their food comes from and being more self-sufficient thanks to a rise in the DIY and homesteader attitude. So backyard vegetable gardens, edible landscapes and community gardens will continue to pop up at a good pace.
Drinking your garden
Homemade beverages with homegrown ingredients is a hot trend (Photo: John Porter)
According to the Garden Trends report, this trend is twofold: Gardeners are growing more things to turn into juices and smoothies as well as things to ferment and turn into alcohol. There’s big interest in both of these concepts, judging alone by the number of books on the shelves. Health-conscious gardeners are growing fruits and vegetables to add to their juicer machines and blenders at an increasing pace.
The new DIY trend, though, is to make your own alcohol, whether you are growing grapes and fruits to make your own wines, or hops (and even grains) to brew your own beer. People are also growing the ingredients you add to cocktails and flavorings to add to spirits. If you want to know what goes in your favorite drink, I suggest “The Drunken Botanist,” by Amy Stewart, for a fun read.
Further reading: “Homemade beverage production is growing” John Porter (Charleston Gazette-Mail)
Men in the garden
The Garden Trends report also states that more young men are starting to garden, and even spend $100 more per year on average than the basic gardener. The reasons? First, I’ll refer you back to the section on drinking your garden. But the trend is also due to young guys liking to grill out and entertain their friends. It seems that they also enjoy growing hot peppers (the hotter the better) — I’m not making this up, it’s straight out of the report.
The report also states that these guy gardeners have a strong interest in workshops and classes. For a tongue-in-cheek look at why guys should be gardeners, check out my guest post last spring on the blog “Art of Manliness” at http://ow.ly/s2Rke.
Interesting outdoor spaces
The Garden Trends report also states that, more than ever, people see their gardens as a place to both relax and enjoy the outdoors and entertain. It seems that garden parties and outdoor entertaining are on the rise. As a result, you see more art in the garden and a bigger emphasis on creating outdoor rooms. It seems that straight and tidy lines are also out and curves are in, as are geometric shapes and broken lines.
Gardening for beneficials
Gardening for pollinators and wildlife is also on the rise, according to the Garden Trends report, and I can attest to this myself. Gardeners are interested in planting foods that feed native pollinators and incorporating habitat such as bee boxes for solitary bees. This is a great trend! While the number of beekeepers is up, Colony Collapse Disorder makes it harder and harder to keep hives of honeybees alive. We need all the pollination we can get!
We’ll be talking about these gardening trends and more in the coming months and weeks. We hope you’ll join us for the journey.