Purposeful gardens – habitat, edible and sustainable – have been on the rise and 2014 promises more of the same.
Chemical-free gardens for birds, butterflies and bees remain high on the gardener’s to-do list, and organically grown edibles play their own harvest-to-table role with health-conscious backyard gardeners.
Gardeners are also more cost-conscious, turning discarded items like packing pallets into planters, planting from seed and composting kitchen scraps. In fact, composting is the new recycling, according to Peggy Krapf, a member of the Virginia Society of Landscape Designers and owner of Hearts Ease Landscape and Garden Design.
“Garden supply companies sell attractive containers to pre-compost on the kitchen counter and you can purchase worm composters that do the job in a box in a closet or basement,” she says.
People in general want to restore balance to their lives, so frivolous spending on more “things” is out, according to Susan McCoy, president of the Garden Media Group and a national garden trends spotter.
“They are beginning to truly understand the relationship between gardening and connecting with nature – and how this can lead to a fully satisfied, purposeful life,” says McCoy.
Here, more garden gurus forecast their own idea of fun and purpose in the garden for 2014:
Chicken keeping continues to attract more who want fresh eggs for their table and cute chickens for backyard buddies. The Peninsula Chicken Keepers had 30 people at its first meeting in September 2010 and now include about 320 backyard chicken enthusiasts, some of whom now open their coops for an annual Coops of the Peninsula tour. – Carol Bartam, chicken keeper in Yorktown, Va.
More masculine colors and styles in home and garden decor are showing up at markets and in stores because there’s a “role reversal of fortune,” where 40 percent of women are the sole or primary income earner for the household and the number of stay-at-home dads continues to increase.
In addition, fairy gardening is a trend that’s morphed into miniature gardening with expanded product and plant selections for both indoor and outdoor gardening. With the name change alone, there’s an increase in men taking up the hobby. – Tish Llaneza, owner of Countryside Gardens and just back from a buying spree at the markets in Atlanta
Master gardeners across the United States are using Nature’s Notebook to help track bloom times on sentinel species to make bloom calendars, which, in turn, gives scientists data on climate change. Gardeners can also use phenology (seasonal changes in plants and animals from year to year) information (and recording) to understand the relationships between garden pest outbreaks and timing of the plant phenology to know when best to apply Integrated Pest Management strategies. And, having it become part of the National Phenology Database also furthers scientific research, not only regarding a changing environment, but also for horticulturists and land managers to make management decisions. – LoriAnne Barnett, education coordinator Nature’s Notebook and USA National Phenology Network
EDIBLES AND MORE
Several things come to mind: Integrating edibles into woody ornamental and perennial gardens – a cultural shift, not a trend; planting native species to benefit bees and other insects; recycling objects into creative plant containers; and using Pinterest to share ideas and inspire others to garden. – Nicholas Staddon, director of new plants for Monrovia, a plant brand sold at garden centers nationally.
Saving our pollinators is big and getting bigger. Organic farmers have been all about this for a while, but now that the public is becoming aware of the desperate state of affairs, it’s spreading like fire – thank goodness. Everyone needs to read the Aug. 19, 2013, Time magazine with the cover that spotlights “A World Without Bees: The price we’ll pay if we don’t figure out what’s killing the honeybee.”
Home gardeners really need to learn about: keeping blooms coming; easy and quick-growing cover crops that can fill a space to provide excellent habitat; and how to let go of chemicals, even certified organic pesticides can be harmful to bees. – Lisa Ziegler of The Gardener’s Workshop, an online garden shop
Containers can spice up a yard without a lot of cost and effort. For instance, bamboo stems, upside down brooms or even twisting, turning branches can be painted colors to match the season, celebration or your home’s exterior palette and then inserted decoratively into pots that may already contain evergreens or annuals like winter pansies or summer petunias. For easy-use containers, Smart Pots are lighter and cheaper than ceramic containers; the large, raised-bed size acts as its own weed-block when placed on the ground and provides a temporary garden space if you can’t install a garden bed where you live. The weave of the fabric allows a dense root system because you can air prune roots that come to the surface. Reviews for the Big Bag Bed version are good on Amazon, where they can be ordered, as well as www.smartpots.com. – Marie Butler, horticulture curator at the Virginia Zoo, where she specializes in creative containers
There’s a continued focus on using recycled building materials. I was surfing the net, looking for compost bin designs and came across a wide range of recycled indoor and outdoor garden furniture using repurposed pallets. People are staining and painting them or leaving them natural and creating some really beautiful stuff! – Grace Chapman, director of horticulture at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, Va.
KEEP IT SIMPLE
Classic elegance in colors and landscaping will be popular in 2014. Plant drifts of similar or blending colors and mix a single color with white in containers, outdoor fabrics, or furnishings. Buy quality products which will last for years – and eco-friendly products with a smaller carbon footprint. Use slow-growing plants like boxwoods which live for many years and natural materials like stone or brick that get more beautiful with age. – Peggy Krapf
Re-blooming and extended bloom plants are hot. Color is paramount. Dwarf and compact plants are in demand. Plants that are less likely to become maintenance nightmares are dominating the market, therefore “low maintenance” is less of a buzz word and more of a reality. Also hot: Plants that can provide color or interest in multiple seasons. – Allan Hull, nursery manager at Peninsula Hardwood Mulch
Increasingly, homeowners are relaxing their notions of what’s “right” in their landscapes to embrace seasonal drama and its disorder. In spring, weeks of bright daffodil flowers are worth weeks of un-mown bulb foliage recharging for next year’s display. In summer gardens, sequential pockets of bloom are enjoyed with no effort to achieve all-over-bloom all of the time. In fall, brilliant fallen leaves are savored with no rush to clean up. Winter landscapes are dotted with dried grasses and seed heads left for the birds. These are well-maintained properties kept with a different mindset. – Sally Ferguson, a Pawlett, Vt., master gardener and gardening and outdoor living communicator