The folks at the Garden Writers Association and the Garden Media Group have taken a close look at what gardeners have been buying and considering buying for their gardens and although we still love gardening as a hobby, it seems we're looking to enjoy our gardens more and toil in them less. Almost all the trends identified for 2006 involve some aspect of getting more pleasure from less effort. For once the top gardening trends don't involve keeping up with anyone else. Apparently gardeners as a group are maturing and becoming more confident in their own ability to make choices.
- Easier Care, Lower Maintenance Fussy, temperamental plants are losing out to workhorses like hydrangeas and coleus. There's a renewed interest in 'native plants' and in site appropriate plants and less clammering for this year's 'it' plant. This seems to be the result of gardeners having more confidence in their skills and in the general trend toward extending the living space from the house to the yard.
- Small Gardens and Gardening in Small Spaces Going along with less maintenance, gardens are becoming more personal and intimate. There is less dependancy on classic design and more self-expression. Gardeners are making use of all available space from patios to rooftops. They are also taking advantage of the many dwarf perennials, trees and shrubs on the market, like container fruit trees and Patio Clematis.
- Decorating with Containers Container gardening is extremely hot. Most popular is clustering groups of containers, or pot-scaping, and using containers within a garden border. Grouping multiple pots, each with only one type of plant is very trendy. Anything goes in a container, from annuals to perennials to dwarf trees or vegetables. The selection of annuals has increased greatly since container gardening took off, introducing a whole new lexicon with Bacopa, Calibrachoa, Surfinia, Biden and Penta.
- Using Garden Art to Add Personality Gardens are viewed as outdoor rooms as well as entertainment destinations. We're spending money on statues, bird baths, gazing globes and all the traditional garden art as well as sophisticated and high end furniture, lighting and electronics.
- Emphasis on Foliage Colorful foliage and texture, or what the Garden Media Group calls "Boom without Bloom", continue to fascinate us. Coleus and white variegated plants are remain very popular and have been joined by an explosion of purple (Sambucus Black Lace, Sedum 'Black Jack'), red (Plectranthus hilliardiae "Red", Tradescantia spathacea variegata), gold (Hydrangea macrophylla 'Lemon Daddy') and silver foliage (Athyrium 'Pewter Lace',
Brunnera macrophylla Looking Glass).
Ornamental grasses are still top sellers, with sedges making headway in 2006, especially the new ground covers like Carex ciliatomarginata Treasure Island' and 'Island Brocade'.
- Plants as Garden Architecture We're finally wrapping our green thumbs around the concept of 'garden bones', with One eye-catching plant or grouping anchoring our smaller gardens - a giant Cimicifuga, the large leaves and bold colors of canna hybrids or the texture provided by a border of cardoons. This is where there is still an interest in the rare and unusual, 'first on the block' plant, like Curcuma aeruginosa Red Emperor.
- Houseplants are Back You'll be seeing houseplants in the home and the office. Orchids especially, are blooming on many office desks, because bloom for so many months with minimal care. Along with traditional houseplants, like Pothos and Palms, many gardeners are over-wintering outdoor plants in sunny windows or sunrooms.
- Fountains Large, high maintenance ponds are being replaced by small container water gardens and fountains, which provide the sound and ambience of water without the time demands.
- Vegetable Gardening Vegetable gardens are riding the organic food high and have become very prestigious. For those who have always enjoyed the many payoffs of vegetable gardening, this new audience means seed and plant companies will be focusing more attention on variety and on developing plants for specific conditions, such as the small spaces mentioned in #2, shorter seasons and higher nutrient value.
- Organics Organic or at least less toxic gardening is becoming the norm, thanks to so many new products like Messenger®, which triggers a plants natural response system, Neem, which causes minimal disturbance while treating diseases and pest problems, and soil additives like SoilSoup, which aid the growth of plants by adding living good microbes to the soil.
2006 gardening trends sound like good news to avid gardeners. Most of them have an element of common sense, indicating we're finally starting to work with nature and appreciate the gardening conditions we've been dealt.