10 trends for 2010

May 18, 2010 -  By

Homeowners are moving toward water-wise landscapes, online infolust and “anything goes” mentality, experts say.

Every year, we read about the new landscape plant trends. Purple is out. Pink is in. Purple’s the new pink. Pink’s the new pink.

This year, however, gardening habits are taking their cues from deeper social changes — be they global, local or particular to a niche community online. Overall, people are trying to live more meaningful lives. They’re re-evaluating values and priorities. They’re also breaking away from traditional rules, preferring a personalized, mix-it-up approach.

Based on those broad behavioral changes, we can extract some landscape trends.

1. Sustainability


“Sustainability,” the latest buzzword being drilled into our brains, is short for “environmental sustainability,” or living in a way that conserves natural resources.

That’s why some in the plant marketing industry have suggested more transparent labeling, indicating how many chemicals and how much water was used in the production of a product, how much energy was consumed in its transportation and if any recycled materials were used.

“We’d love for consumers to know all the rigorous testing for drought tolerance we’ve done, how little water they’ve survived on, or how the purchase of oxygen-releasing, allergen-filtering plants help the environmental in general,” says Anthony Tesselaar, president and co-founder of Tesselaar Plants. “We’re even talking about labels equating each plant with a certain number of carbon credits, so the consumer can see how their purchase helps reduce their carbon footprint.”

Further down the road, according to independent trend-spotting firm TrendWatch in its recent 2010 trends report, we may even see government interventions that make it easier for consumers to choose sustainable products or that even offer them no other choice (i.e. bans on products not sold in recycled packaging or that exceed water or chemical-use restrictions).

A burgeoning “localvore” movement has grown out of this, with people going beyond simply caring about where their food comes from, to going out of their way to buy plants and produce from local independent businesses.

2. Redefining luxury
“What constitutes luxury is closely related to what constitutes scarcity,” writes TrendWatch. “And, beyond the basic needs, scarcity is in the eye of the beholder, especially those beholders who are desperately trying to be unique.”

And now that there are so many more ways to be unique than just buying the biggest and the most expensive, says the firm, “luxury” can now mean more time with loved ones or oneself, the freedom to be eccentric, extreme personalization or “just a place of peace and quiet — if not escape.”

The idea of luxury is also strongly tied to the idea of creating a personal oasis or “staycation” at home — even for those with smaller budgets.

“With the downturn in the economy, more people are tending to stay closer to home,” says Charlie Nardozzi, senior horticulturist and spokesperson for the National Gardening Association. “That means they are interested and have the time to take on gardening projects.”


3. Water-wise landscapes
According to the 2009 Garden Trends Research Report survey conducted by the Garden Writers Association Foundation late last summer, those with lawns and gardens are becoming increasingly concerned with water conservation. Approximately one in three survey respondents (32%), in fact, said they were planning to use more mulch to do the job (up 12%, from 2007), while about one out of seven were planning to use either drip irrigation (up 1% from 2007) or more drought-tolerant plants (up 4% from 2007).

In the same report, water conservation ranked highest among gardeners asked to rank their interest in the following topics: water conservation, native plants, sustainability, organic gardening, web-based gardening information and garden blogs.

4. Plants for wellness
In the late spring survey of the Garden Writers Association’s 2009 Garden Trends Research Report, more than one-third of Americans (35%) said their primary reason for gardening was better mental health, nutrition or fitness.

“We’ve seen so many studies showing how plants benefit people’s mental and physical health, how gardening can help prevent Alzheimer’s Disease and how plants release oxygen into the air, boosting our mood and filtering pollutants and allergens,” says Tesselaar. “With this, we’re seeing a movement toward ‘interiorscaping’ — designing with plants inside so we can enjoy them all the time.”

Homeowners are also turning to plants for practical and financial reasons. In the 2009 Garden Trends Research Report survey, nearly a quarter of respondents (23%) said they garden because they want to increase curb appeal and property value,

Hence the rise of TV shows like HGTV’s “Curb Appeal, The Block,” in which crews give the whole neighborhood — not just one house — a landscaping makeover.

5. Mixing it up
There’s an “anything goes” mentality out there these days, says About.com gardening guide Marie Iannotti in her Dec. 27, 2009 post “The Best Gardening Trends of the 2000s.”

“We’ve broken free of garden design rules and dictates on good taste and we’ve embraced personalizing our gardens,” she wrote. “We may still love English and Tuscan gardens, but we’re not trying to please anyone other than ourselves. We’re willing to take chances and have some fun with our gardens, even if it means throwing in the kitchen sink. I think this is one of the most positive gardening trends, if it can be called a trend. We’ve finally learned to trust ourselves as gardeners.”

Perhaps that’s why more gardeners are mixing edibles with ornamentals. “No more 10-x-10-ft. Victory Gardens,” said Anna Ball this past fall in a presentation to woody ornamental growers at the International Plant Propagators Society’s Eastern Region meeting in Cleveland. “Everything should be mixed up. It’s a trend we’re seeing in every country, even South Africa, Australia, and Japan.”

More cold-climate gardeners, adds Anthony Tesselaar, are embracing non-hardy tropical plants as “tenderennials” or annuals they just throw out or overwinter.

“Who cares about zones if it’s a woody ornamental in a mixed container that’s going to get thrown out at the end of the year?” said Ball. “I bought all the gardening magazines in May. With my plant mind, I was sorting featured plants by annuals and perennials. I was unable to classify some of the plants because the articles and advertisements didn’t say. People don’t care what they are. They just care what they look like.”

6. Vegetable gardening
According to the 2009 Edibles Gardening Trends Research Report conducted by the Garden Writers Association Foundation (GWAF) in November, more than 41 million U.S. households (38%) grew a vegetable garden in 2009. More than 19.5 million households (18%) grew an herb garden and 16.5 million households (15%) grew fruits. Vegetable gardening was most popular among 25- to 44-year-olds and least popular among 18- to 24-year-olds.

“There was definitely a growth in edibles gardening in 2009 from both experienced gardeners and an influx of new gardeners,” reported the study (the report’s earlier late-spring survey, in fact, reported a 12% increase in veggie gardening from 2008). Among those who grew edible gardens this year, said the fall study, 7% were new to edibles gardening. One-third of the experienced gardeners, meanwhile, reported growing more edibles in 2009 than in the previous year. And 37% of all households reported plans to increase their edible gardens. The main reason given: to supplement household food supply.

7. Fewer lawns, more perennials and shrubs
More and more turf is being given over to gardening — especially in the front yard, says Iannotti in her About.com post. “A well-thought-out garden, especially one with drought-tolerant, native shrubs adds curb appeal and eco-friendliness while cutting down on maintenance … Just think, no mowing, no pruning the yews, minimal watering … It’s especially nice to see front yard gardens in areas where people walk about.”

Here’s where shrubs have exploded in popularity. “There’s no excuse for a foundation of yews any longer,” she says. “If you’re looking for curb appeal, garden bones or a lower-maintenance garden, take a look at today’s offering of shrubs. They bloom and bloom, they have purple, golden or striped foliage, they weep, they contort and they don’t take over. In particular, she cites repeat-blooming hydrangeas and lilacs, a rainbow of ninebarks, Black Lace Elderberry, dwarf buddleia ‘Lo and Behold Blue Chip’ and “evergreens that aren’t green.”

And, according to the 2009 Garden Trends Research Report, gardeners have been increasingly adding perennials to their landscapes — from 34% in 2006 to 42% this year.

8. Native plants
Gardeners are turning to low-maintenance or easy-care plants, especially native varieties that have already grown well in their area. In the 2009 Garden Trend Research Report, “native plants” ranked second in a list of topics of itnerest to gardeners.

9. Online infolust
As TrendWatch says “tracking and alerting are the new searching … it saves consumers time, makes it impossible to forget or miss out, and thus ultimately gives them yet another level of control.”

With services like Google Alerts, for instance, people interested in gardening can be notified via email or feed about the latest web and news pages of their choice, including garden bloggers, YouTube gardening how-to videos and gardening communities on Facebook and Twitter. If they have an iPhone, the GardenPilot App can serve as their handheld, mobile, garden guide to plants, vegetables, trees and shrubs. Features include images of 14,000 plants, information on where to find them at local retailers and the ability to search for plants based on attributes and common or botanical names.

And yes, those looking for such information online do include Baby Boomers (the largest segment of gardeners by far). A 2009 report from Forrester Research revealed that more than 60% of those in this generational group actively consume socially created content like blogs, videos, podcasts, and forums. What’s more, the percentage of those participating is on the rise.

10. Foliage
“The rule used to be ‘no bloom, no room,’ meaning if a plant wasn’t sold just for its pretty flowers, the retailers weren’t interested,” says Tesselaar. “But we’ve seen a change in this attitude, with more and more homeowners becoming aware of the importance of foliage and ‘good garden bones.’ This has led them to replace flat, one-dimensional gardens of short-lived blooms with foliage-first shrubs and trees for year-round interest, color, texture and architecture.”

In her About.com blog post, Iannotti guesses that the foliage craze started with the sun-tolerant coleus. “But my goodness, look what’s happened,” she remarked. “You don’t even need flowers anymore.” In particular, she noted a rainbow of sweet potato vines, New Zealand flax (phormium), tropical cannas, alternanthera and Persian Shield (strobilanthus). “Plus there’s all that wonderful breeding going on with old standards like coral bells (heuchera) and ornamental grasses.” And the Princess series of pennisetum, she noted, goes from red to gold.

This article was submitted on behalf of Tesselaar Plants.

LM Staff

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