Hone your green thumb by staying on top of the latest gardening trends
Get ready to adjust your yard and garden habits.
The Garden Media Group issued their annual Garden Trends Report, predicting the hot topics, major goals and concerns for the upcoming year in the world of gardening.
Even if we don't completely upend our current way of doing things, it still makes for interesting discussion. And I'm happy my old hoe is in vogue again.
Adjusting to climate change
- An increasingly unpredictable climate is challenging the way we garden, as we rotate between extremes of drought, intense rain storms, heat waves and wildfires.
- Sixteen of the last 17 years have been the warmest on record. To cope with extremes, gardeners will look for resilient, weather-hardy plants that tolerate fluctuating weather. Wind-tolerant plants will be popular, along with soil mulches to moderate extremes of moisture and temperature.
- Tree care will become complicated as climate stresses trees, weakening their resistance to insects and diseases. If we lose trees, we'll lose the cooling and buffering effects they provide for cities and homes.
- We are the first generation of gardeners ever who can't rely on historical records to predict what to expect in gardening's future, according to Cornell University.
- Desert-style plantings are encouraged, as well as plants that tolerate flooding. Apparently, we're to roll the dice, and take our pick of one or the other extremes.
It's okay to be imperfect
- The Japanese-inspired appreciation of life's imperfections and the ability to age gracefully will be encouraged.
- Adapt gardening methods that let you relax and appreciate nature's sometimes imperfect beauty.
- Growing clover and dandelions in non-chemical lawns is becoming a status symbol.
- Large expanses of lawns will be less sought-after.
- Quality natural materials are trending, such as metal, stone and wood instead of plastic.
- Cherish old garden tools, and repurpose objects like old iron gates.
- Privacy is needed to develop our individuality, free from the "likes" and "comments" of social media. Gardening can feed this craving for quiet.
- Plants are being used literally and figuratively to give us "breathing room" as they give us quiet privacy while reducing many air pollutants.
- Fifty-two percent of Americans are using houseplants to clean indoor air.
Valuable rain water
- Popularity is increasing for rain gardens and water features that capture rain water where it falls for later use, or slowing it down so it soaks into the soil recharging ground water, rather than quickly running off.
- Innovative programs are increasing, such as the Montgomery County program in Maryland paying homeowners up to $2500 to recycle rainwater into their own gardens.
- Plants slow down water while filtering it, from tree canopies to groundcovers.
Grow your own protein
- A new term — "flexitarian" — is being used for the 23 million Americans who occasionally eat a meal that doesn't include meat.
- As meat becomes more expensive, gardeners will be growing their own protein in the form of protein-rich vegetables like peas, broccoli, corn, asparagus, spinach, kale, beans, sunflower seeds, sweet potatoes and millet.
- Purple is the new color of healthy food. According to US Department of Agriculture, the purple antioxidant anthocyanin helps fight cancer, has anti-aging benefits, reduces obesity, protects the heart and promotes mental strength.
- Purple foods include beets, black raspberries, plums, eggplant, purple cabbage, purple cauliflower, purple carrots, purple sweet potato and purple corn.
Plants in communities
- Horticulture is shifting its view of plants as single individuals to a view that considers plants as groups within a larger community.
- Instead of simple maintenance, we're being encouraged to manage landscapes as a whole. For example, choose plants with similar needs for a desired area.
Don Kinzler, a lifelong gardener, worked as an NDSU Extension horticulturist and owned Kinzler's Greenhouse in Fargo. Readers can reach him at email@example.com.
He also blogs at growingtogether.areavoices.com.