HUMANS HAVE been planting and tending gardens for at least 10,000 years. So what do trends have to do with it?
Sometimes trend-spotting gives us a fresh vision, or maybe just a laugh. Like how the Garden Writers Association called out compost-making as a 2014 trend. Really? If it’s been happening for millennia, it’s probably not a trend.
Much of the trend talk is, of course, nothing more than marketing. Or gardeners with strong opinions making their voices heard. And because most gardeners have strong opinions, trend-spotting in the age of blogs can get downright clamorous.
While searching out what’s new for 2014, I was surprised by what I didn’t find. Not a single trend-with-an-edge, like the surge of black blooms a few years ago, or new, more modern hardscaping materials. Surely the specter of climate change must influence plant breeding and plant choices? Couldn’t finger a trend there. And how about environmentally friendly pest-control products that don’t poison our pets and biodegradable pots for nursery stock? Gardeners would greet such innovations wholeheartedly.
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Instead the Garden Writers Association trumpets “Dress Up Your Yard,” advising decorative planters and candleholders. And “Drink Your Yard,” meaning green smoothies and home brewing. To be fair, “Bee-neficials: more than 85 percent of Earth’s plant species require pollinators to exist,” made the list.
Here in the Northwest, we’re lucky enough to have Crown Bees, where Dave Hunter educates us about the value of mason bees and how to nurture them. Then there’s Seattle Bee Works and Puget Sound Beekeepers Association. We’re starting our own bee-tending trend here in the Northwest; may it spread far and wide.
I just can’t figure out some of the trends on the garden writers’ list for 2014. Does “Geometric gardening that has fractions and dimensions with explosions of colors and textures that isn’t necessarily neat and tidy” make any sense to you? I’m better able to understand the item noting that more gardeners are growing “superfoods” such as kale and blueberries, and another saying we’re appreciating trees for how they reduce noise and increase property values. Still, nothing too edgy there.
White flowers, such as iris, peonies and lovage, stood out as a clear trend at the venerable Chelsea Flower Show in England last spring. Familiar native flowers, including foxglove and cow parsley, showed up in many of the show gardens.
Space-saving vertical gardens aren’t a new idea, but they were everywhere at Chelsea this past year. Many were as simple as trellises, screens or wire framework planted with vines. A star of the show was an innovative garden featuring a “bee hotel.” Log sections were drilled with holes for bee homes and inter-planted with succulents to create a functional, beautiful garden element.
The online design magazine Lonny interviewed Stephanie Schur, owner of Botany Flowers in Los Angeles, about what’s trendy in floristry. Schur says bouquets are becoming more casual and unstructured, picked fresh from the garden and plunked into a vase.
Garden Design magazine, available only online, looked at trends from cutting-edge Australia, calling out productive gardens and dramatic, outdoor night lighting as newly fashionable. In Sydney, people are planting gardens on rooftops to take advantage of views and sunshine.
The Australians put water features and garden bling in the category of “declining trends,” in contrast to the garden writers’ enthusiasm for tarting up the yard. Clean-lined, modern gardens are what’s happening Down Under.
Garden Design recently announced it’ll publish two paper issues in 2014. Now here’s a trend to celebrate — our favorite gardening magazines coming back into print.
Valerie Easton is a Seattle freelance writer. Check out her blog at www.valeaston.com.