Gardening Picks - Great Ideas for the Garden
It’s so hard to pick only a handful of wonderful things about the past season’s garden. Sure there are always problems. But the triumphs, no matter how small, are the first things you want to share.
Here are my picks for the Top 5 Gardening Trends. These garden trends have led to the introduction of some wonderful plants, design ideas and helpful garden tools. It’s also interesting to note that these garden trends aren’t really trendy at all. They show a return to gardening’s roots (excuse the pun) and a more common sense approach to gardening. Less Work - More Pleasure!
Native PlantsMore gardeners are seeking out native plants and old-fashioned species, over the new and exotic. I’m glad to see the interest in native plants because it means gardeners are learning to appreciate the familiar. They’re thinking about maintaining and enhancing their environment instead of simply manipulating it into something inappropriate for their area. Native plants have adapted to their locale and require less outside effort to survive and thrive. And gardening with natives could well mean less invasive plants and insect pests, which is always a good thing.
Of course there’s still the question of what constitutes a native plant. Is it a plant that’s native to your country, your state, your eco-system? For now, take a look at the EPA’s Green Landscaping site to get some ideas for incorporating native plants into your gardens.
Emphasis on FoliageThe focus has been on foliage, not just from the design perspective, but from plant breeders as well. Colorful foliage, variegated leaves, delicate, lacy leaf shapes and bigger, bolder shapes all help add interest and structure to gardens without having to worry about season of bloom. Many are plants we’re already familiar with growing. Of course, there are ornamental grasses and sedges for every growing condition. Breeders are having a field day with Coral bells (Heuchera spp.) in wonderful colors from caramel to plum pudding. No container gardener could go a season without a chartreuse or bronze sweet potato vine. But don’t overlook the new releases in shrubs, like the dark contrast of ’Black Lace’ and ‘Black Beauty’ Sambucus, the bright golden-yellow of ‘Gold Hinoki’ Falsecypress (Chaemacypress obtusa "Aurea") and the rosy pink of ‘My Monet’ Weigela.
Organic Gardening ProductsOrganic gardening has always been wonderful in theory, but most home gardeners who’ve tried to be organic know it’s not that easy to accomplish in practice. Even in the best soils, with the healthiest plants and the strictest adherence to integrated pest management, there will be problems that leave you reaching for the spray can. Thankfully, there are new botanical and organic products coming out all the time that are truly helpful tools in having a beautiful, productive garden without killing every garden visitor in sight. Products like Neem, which causes minimal disturbance while treating diseases and pest problems, Messenger®, which triggers a plants natural response system and soil additives like SoilSoup, which aid the growth of plants by adding living “good microbes” to the soil.
Container GardensIf you haven’t tried your hand at container gardening yet, you should give yourself that treat next season. Container gardening is more than potting plants. Container gardening give you a chance to experiment with and hone your design skills. It gives you a chance to play with tropical plants that won’t survive your winters, tiny gems that would get lost in your borders, color combinations that can be changed each year or each season, new plants you want to test drive and old favorites you just like having around. “Pot-scaping” or clustering groups of containers is a hot trend, but equally popular is using containers to fill in holes in the garden border or to create seasonal interest. Containers are the perfect addition to outdoor rooms and entertainment areas, where you want the luxury of plants without the major upkeep of a border. Gardeners with limited space can make use of stairways, railings and stoops. There is virtually nothing you can’t grow in a pot: trees, perennials, herbs, vegetables... And it’s easier on the knees and back.
Home Vegetable GardeningVegetable gardening is my first love and it was very disconcerting to me to see interest in vegetable gardening wane in the 1990s, because of smaller yards, easy access to a wide variety of produce and a growing interest in ornamental gardening. However the popularity and price of organic vegetables has tweaked the interest of even some non-gardeners and the suburban vegetable garden is back in vogue. If you still think you don’t have space to devote to season-long vegetables, container vegetable gardening may be perfect for you.
Now for the Pans. Here are the worst garden trends.