Every year researches spend many hours and dollars studying why we garden. They’re looking for trends to pass along to manufacturers in the garden industry. Some trends are the result of there being more choices for gardeners. The amount of new plants introduced each year is head-spinning. Some trends develop because even gardeners who stick with their proven reliable plants like a change now and then and other trends make me skeptical that they interviewed actual gardeners.
Here’s what they gleaned about gardeners this past year:
1. Gardening for the Greater Good is In; Gardening for Self-Gratification is Out.
The first trend shows that we’re all getting a little more eco-conscious. Supposedly we’re moving toward gardening for reasons other than our own pleasure. I don’t know about this. Sure, we appreciate the big picture, but most gardeners garden because they enjoy it. We enjoy being outdoors, getting our hands dirty and watching things grow. Filtering the air is not the top reason we plant a tree.
2. Buying Local is In: Big Eco-Footprints are Out.
This is a two-prong trend. We’re seeing and thinking more about using native plants, which is good for the environment and for the gardener. Plants that have adapted to your area will grow well there and look good in your garden. But they are also finding a trend back toward vegetable gardening. The easiest, least expensive way to go organic and ensure you know what you’re feeding your family is to grow it yourself. Again, good ideas, but hardy new.
3. Gardening for the Birds & Bees is In; Reckless Gardening is Out.
4. Water in the Garden is In; Wasting Water is Out.
5. Eco-Chic Gardens are In; Chemically Needy Gardens are Out.
We all probably agree that conserving water, gardening for birds, bees and butterflies and choosing less toxic solutions are good things, but I wouldn’t call them trends. I’d call them common sense, something most gardeners have in good supply.
6. Corresponding Color Combinations are In; Complementary Color Combos are Out.
I also don’t like the idea of creating color trends. I don’t change my wardrobe, such as it is, to keep up with color trends in fashion and I don’t plan to re-work my garden just because orange is the new pink.
7. Smart 'n Easy Gardens are In; High Maintenance Gardens are Out.
Which brings us to Smart 'n Easy Gardens being in. Who sets out to design a high maintenance garden? If you’ve got the money for that, you probably have the money to hire someone to take care of it. On the other hand, if you love a diva plant and you must have it, you don’t care that it’s a prima dona. We’ve always managed to balance our indulgences with workhorses in another part of the garden.
8. Curvaceous Gardens are In; Square Gardens are Out.
Huh? Does it have to be either or? Sometimes clean lines and symmetry are just what you’re looking for. It sure makes harvesting easier.
9. Well-Lit Gardens are In; In the Dark Gardens are Out.
Finally, a trend I’m intrigued by. Usually I work in the garden until I can’t see what plant I’m working on anymore. I suppose garden lighting is meant to extend usable time in your outdoor entertaining areas, but I think it would be great to have some mood lighting while I work in the evening. Of course lights attract insects, so be careful what you wish for.
Gardening trends may dictate what plants and gadgets garden centers sell each year, but do gardeners really follow gardening trends? Maybe not consciously, but very often we all covet the same new plant or are drawn to the same color palette. Is it the marketer creating these trends or do gardeners? I like to hope it’s gardeners who are asking for specific plants and tools, who are driving the market.