Garden Media Group’s 2016 trends report suggests creating nurturing habitat by planting trees, shrubs and perennials chosen for function as well as beauty.

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DOESN’T A PURSUIT as ancient as gardening transcend trends? I’m afraid not.

The Garden Media Group recently released its 2016 trends report, “Syncing with Nature.” It starts out inauspiciously with a pitch for how newly enhanced digital tools make gardening more approachable for younger gardeners or those new to gardening. Probably so. But don’t we garden with instinct, knowledge, rakes and trowels rather than apps?

But hang on. Despite my irritation with the group’s penchant for coining silly names, I ended up far more impressed with this report than in any year I can remember. Once you get past the undisguised marketing, the report focuses on how tuning in to nature promotes well-being. It also goes far beyond recommending specific products and advocates for habitat creation, reduced water usage and organic gardening.

Let’s get the cuteness out of the way. The report uses the term “naTECHure” to describe the intersection of nature and technology, which it calls the two hottest trends in education. Even worse is “welltality” for the idea that horticulture is tied to both health and wellness, as reflected in the greening of hotels and hospitals.

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Maybe because we have such long, dark winters in the Northwest, we’ve long practiced “nightscaping,” a trend the Garden Media Group describes as using outdoor lights and plants with colorful and pale foliage to draw people into the garden after dark. Not exactly news, although containers equipped with LED lighting and music systems are more trendsetting. Then there’s “backyard boldness,” described as personalizing gardens with bright colors and art. Haven’t the best gardens always been as revelatory of a gardener as his or her own fingerprints?

When it comes to plants, the report calls out the beauty and utility of drought-tolerant plants such as succulents. Also berries for their health benefits, highlighting the new, smaller cultivars of blueberries, like the petite ‘Perpetua’ that fruits midsummer and bears a second crop in autumn.

Once we get past the “maker” generation and its penchant for DIY projects, the report grows more substantive. It quotes Doug Tallamy, a professor of wildlife ecology at the University of Delaware, who is a proponent of creating nurturing, eco-sensitive habitat by layering landscapes with trees, shrubs and perennials. Plants are chosen for function as well as beauty, and each serves a purpose in supporting local ecosystems, pollinators and other wildlife.

While I think they could come up with a better term than “dogscaping,” at least these marketers make it clear they aren’t in the business of promoting chemicals and poisons. The report calls for all organic lawn products, citing the frightening statistic that 1 in 3 dogs will come down with cancer. It suggests that gardeners shouldn’t be so worried about protecting their precious plants from lively dogs, but rather protecting dogs and cats from poisonous plants and harmful chemicals.

After the summer of 2015, Northwest gardeners can appreciate the trend toward water conservation. The Garden Media Group emphasizes that even small changes in gardening choices, like efficient irrigation and more drought-tolerant plants, can make a huge difference when magnified over a nation of gardens.

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