Gardening Trends

Victoria Whitney

The home decor industry has forecasted trends for a number of years. Recently, top gardening magazines and horticultural spokespersons have begun to offer views on what is trendy in gardening. The trends for 2005, focus on simplicity, realism and uniqueness, romanticism, speciality annual gardening, vertical gardening, tropical gardening, and container gardening.

Backyards have become places to relax from our hectic lives. Within this oasis, simple groups of plants within the same colour family are pleasing to view and promote relaxation. Plants that require heavy maintenance are not welcome in most modern gardens. Low maintenance annuals such as drought tolerant gazanias and new varieties of hybrid portulacca can be planted in rock gardens or containers. Elegant Dragon Wing Begonias and many new sun loving varieties of colourful Coleus require no deadheading and are fabulous in containers or in raised flower beds. Clearly defined flowerbeds that have clean, flowing lines with a "less is more" approach to plant selection is the preferred style of many new gardens. Within this trend, a large sized pot with interesting colour and dimension is often chosen in lieu of a cluster of small pots or a cluttered grouping.

Gardeners who embrace the simple approach to design and plant selection are generally keen to maintain realism in their garden projects. It is fun to dream about fantasy gardens, but most gardeners are equally excited about making their outdoor spaces unique to their style and personality. Realistic expectations for the space one has is necessary - sun loving plants will not grow in shade no matter how hard one tries! Maintaining realistic expectations for gardens and outdoor living spaces and selecting garden accents or developing a theme to reflect personal style will help one create a successful signature garden.

The concept of "Grandma’s Garden" is popular in today’s garden. Favourite classics such as Sweet Peas, Nasturtiums, Stocks, Hollyhocks and Roses are showing up many garden landscapes. These romantic classics support our need to integrate home, security and family into our busy lives. Within these classic flower choices, soft flowers in feminine shades of pink, blue, white and purple are leading the colour pallet. Blue has been identified as the hot colour for 2005. Look for blooms of annuals and perennials in various shades of blue early in the season to avoid disappointment.

Perennials continue to be a popular plant selection, but the most growth in the greenhouse industry has been in speciality annuals. These plants consist of varieties such as Bacopa, Nemesia, Torenia, Verbena and Diascia and are sold in four-inch or six-inch pots. Large sized speciality annuals consistently out-sell flats of bedding plants due to their unique blooms, fascinating colour choices and instant garden appeal. Late starting springs and early autumn frost encourage many gardeners to purchase large sized plant material to get the most impact in the shortest amount of time and these annuals grown in individual pots, not cell packs, offer this option.

Vertical Gardening can encompass plants that grow up or down. Small space gardeners or gardeners who are searching for unique ways to display plants will be aware of this popular trend.

Consider using trellises, obelisks, fences, walls, or window box planters to support or drape cascading plants. Great plants to create a vertical image include Thunbergia, Clematis, Virginia Creeper, Hops, Swedish Ivy, Scaevola or annual or perennial grasses.

Tropical plants can create a sense of lushness and indulgence. Tropical and tropical-looking plants such as Hibiscus, Mandevillia, Brugmansia, Allamanda, and Oleander are best left for the summer months in a container. When fed a steady diet of water-soluble fertilizer, each of these plants will bloom generously, but will require an indoor environment in the fall, winter and early spring. Large decorative containers spilling out with tropical plants can be placed right in the garden or can be set amid seating areas on the deck.

Container Gardening is the trend that keeps on going. Showing no signs of fizzling, this popular trend continues to expand with each new design idea or plant introduction. Container Gardening allows individuals to creatively combine plants using unique containers such as old rubber boots, mailboxes, pails and buckets, wicker baskets and old watering cans. As long as the container can hold soil and can provide proper drainage, it can be planted. Container Gardening is not confined to summer planting as more gardeners are using their pots for four seasons: pansies and pussy willows in the spring, lush specialty annuals mixed with perennials with decorative foliage in the summer, garden mums, kale and ornamental grasses in the autumn and evergreen boughs, branches and pods in the winter.

As gardening continues to increase in popularity, new trends will develop and current trends will evolve. Industry reports are suggesting a long lasting shift from people focussing on interior decorating to exterior decorating and the enhancement of patios, gardens and lawns. As these people strive to place their personal signature on their outdoor living spaces, an awareness of trends can be useful in the creation of their personal oasis. Victoria Whitney is member of the Peterborough Horticultural Society and is with Griffin’s Greenhouse in Lakefield.