Gardening Trends 2017

New 'Autumn Fire' encore Azalea
New ‘Autumn Fire’ encore Azalea; blooms twice a season

Attending the Mid Atlantic Nurseryman’s Show in Baltimore (MANTS) this past January is an intense glimpse into what is up and coming with the gardening industry. I took lots of pictures, trolled the aisles for new products, talked to people, and used my gardening savvy to figure out what is really brand new or recycled.

Chatting with Stephanie Cohen (left) and my Mants partner Gretchen Schmidl (right) at Walters Gardens
Chatting with Stephanie Cohen and my Mants partner Gretchen Schmidl at Walters Gardens at the MANTS show

Talking with Stephanie Cohen(The Perennial Diva!) she suggested to gardeners that they buy one or two of the plants that they want to try in their garden, before buying 50 of the same variety to cover an area. Only after making sure your choice of perennials are thriving, then feel free to plonk down money for more. I thoroughly agree with her! Garden conditions- drainage, soil, climate, location- are so variable that it doesn’t make sense to buy an untried perennial or shrub for your garden without first giving it a trial run. It is so easy to waste money in the nursery trade without first doing your homework and making sure that it is “right plant-right place”. There are just too many choices out there vying for your gardening dollar.

I loved this Super Bells 'Tropical Sunrise'
I loved this SuperBells ‘Tropical Sunrise’

Gardening trends ebb and flow like fashion crazes. “There is nothing new under the sun” could be applied to the gardening world but practices and products often are packaged and marketed differently to look new. Here are some movements that I see in the industry.

Greenery-Pantone Color of the Year

Doesn't this container scream "Greenery"?
Doesn’t this container scream “Greenery”? No flowers needed

Pantone’s color of the year sets the tone for 2017-  “Greenery”. It wasn’t that long ago (2013) that “Emerald” was the color of the year, so green has been trendy before. Pantone’s “Greenery” looks like a lime green to me and if that doesn’t convince you that the plant world is up and coming, nothing will. Think kale smoothies, retro metal gliders, or lime green crocs that are sitting in your closet- and you have the right color in mind. Our desire to reconnect with nature? Or a symbol of revitalization? Read whatever you want into that color, I think of shimmering foliage shades for a restful experience.

Hakone Grass 'All Gold' is the Pantone color of the year
Hakone Grass ‘All Gold’ shows the Pantone color of the year
Pantone colored chairs match perfectly
Pantone ‘Greenery’ colored chairs match perfectly
Using dental floss to hang a chrysalis
Monarch chrysalis is the Pantone color of the year!

As Good as Gold

Gold has always been one of my favorite colors to design with and I see an uptick in golden introductions, like the one below called ‘Sunshine’. The Ligustrum leans toward the yellow end of the spectrum, the following Coral Bells are pure gold.

I admired this Proven Winners plant Ligustrum
I admired this Proven Winners plant Ligustrum
'Caramel' Heuchera is a villosa hybrid which performs like gangbusters for me
‘Caramel’ Heuchera is a villosa hybrid which performs like gangbusters for me, from Walters Garden
Heucherella 'Buttered Rum'
Heucherella ‘Buttered Rum’, a Terra Nova intro is a new one that I am trying this year
golden-balcony-longfield
‘Golden Balcony’ Begonia from Longfield Gardens

New Plant Intros

The pace of new plant introductions has been increasing in the past five years at an exponential rate as more and more people are gardening and want more choices- namely dwarf plants. Virtually every full size plant has a newer dwarf variety that is at least half the size with as many or more flowers than the full size version. Neat and tidy is the name of the game and with so many dwarf introductions, it is hard to keep track of them. The plant industry is working hard on plants that fit into our downsized lifestyle and gardens. Plus, plants that normally bloom only once-like Azaleas, are reworked to bloom again and again so that we get a longer season of enjoyment.

Proven Winners Supertunia 'Bubblegum'
Proven Winners Supertunia ‘Vista Bubblegum’

I was glad to see Proven Winner’s ‘Vista Bubblegum’ receive the accolade of Annual of the Year for 2017. Using this plant for at least 10 years and marveling at the toughness and beautiful form and color, I thought I was the only one who noticed! This is one plant that I make sure I buy enough for my containers and window boxes, as well as the landscape and can’t get enough of. A deserved recognition, I hope that it will now be easier to find.

Dwarf Hibiscus with full size flowers
Dwarf Hibiscus with full size flowers

Eat Your Spinach

Greens,beautiful greens! Dinosaur kale, collards, swiss chard, lettuce, arugula, spinach, mustard greens, carrot tops; you name it, someone is eating it and/or growing it! Chock full of good nutrients and easy to grow in the garden or in containers, greens are here to stay.

Having your greens ready to pick outside your doorstep
Having your greens ready to pick outside your doorstep
Ruffled kale grown in my garden
Ruffled kale grown in my garden
Spotted heirloom lettuce
Spotted heirloom lettuce

And not just greens. Veganism is mainstream. No longer a niche group, vegan consumers desire a cleaner product, want to lose weight, and are environmentally conscious. Even if you aren’t a total vegan, people are incorporating more vegetables in their diet. My last trend report for 2016, Top 10 Garden Trends for 2016, included the cauliflower as the trendiest vegetable in the garden. I see it at the supermarket in pizza crusts, brownies, salads, and as a rice. As easy to grow as tomatoes, but more prone to pests, here is a guide to growing – Growing Cauliflower in Containers.

Cauliflower is being grown in home gardens because of its versatility in cooking
Cauliflower is being grown in home gardens because of its versatility in cooking

Home Grown Berries

Millennials especially are embracing this trend of eating and growing healthy in portable containers. Berry bushes, like the new Bushel and Berry series of berry bushes- dwarf blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries are appearing on decks and patios. As one of the Superfoods that everyone should include in your diet, people are incorporating these dwarf heavy bearing shrubs into their gardens and containers. I am trialing ‘Strawberry Shortcake’ Raspberry and looking for the ‘Perpetua’ Blueberry (2 harvests a year!) and Blackberry ‘Baby Cakes’ and will be reporting on how well they do this year.

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Black Goes With Everything

Again, black or dark foliaged plants are in the forefront and they contrast nicely with the limey green ‘Greenery’. Check out my post Black Goes With Everything. Heucheras or Coral Bells come in an array of dark hues, like the ones below called ‘Silver Gumdrop’ and ‘Black Pearl’ from Walters Gardens.

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‘Black Pearl’ Coral Bells, image from Walters Gardens
'Silver Gumdrop' Coral Bells, image from Walters Gardens
‘Silver Gumdrop’ Coral Bells, image from Walters Gardens
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A sweet potato vine that is jet black

Jungle Redux-Invasion of the Houseplants

Remember the tired looked Shefflarias and Spider Plants from the 70’s? If you look at pictures from that era, houseplants were everywhere, perched on harvest gold counter tops or dangling from macrame hangers. The nostalgia and the plants are back! But instead, clustering succulents in a retro glass container or air plants being thrown together in a wooden trough with glass balls are appearing. Orchids, especially Vandas are mainstream and hanging from the ceiling of your sun room. Bromeliads are coming back with some crazy colors.

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Bromelliads are long lasting tropicals that I use in shady containers
Bromeliads are long-lasting tropicals that I use in shade containers

Another current use of house plants is to counter indoor pollution, one more way that Millenials are trying to control their environment for healthy living.

Vanda Orchid
Vanda Orchid
Vandas come in incredible colors
Vandas come in incredible colors
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Air plants used as hair jewelry

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Bromeliad flowers are beautiful also

Succulent/Cactus Craze

Succulents are still huge trend setters with their jewel like rosettes of beautiful foliage. Cacti are joining right in.Easy care plants that are small and portable and take neglect, you see them in hanging baskets, wreaths, trees, and, wedding bouquets, and containers. A crafty plant, go to my post Succulents For the Fall or Deck the Halls-A Succulent Christmas.048-2

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Succulents filling a hanging basket at Disney World’s greenhouse
Succulents come in all colors
Succulents come in all colors

 

Cactus are trendy;unfortunately these have been dyed
Cactus are trendy;unfortunately these are dyed

Cool Nurseries 

Destination nurseries are getting more numerous and more sophisticated than ever. Prolific on the west coast and the United Kingdom, they are trickling into the rest of the country. After my recent trip to Scotland when I visited several garden centers, I realized that the U.S. has some catching up to do. Dobbies is a destination garden center/nursery that has its headquarters outside Edinburgh and bills itself as a leisure destination for all the family. I have posted about a few destination garden centers, namely Surreybrook-A Destination Garden Center  located in Maryland, Annie’s Annuals in Richmond, California, and Grubb Heaven in San Francisco. Including restaurants and lifestyle products, these destination garden centers are more than just a place to shop for plants. Marketing of plants has hit big time.

Flora Grubb's has unique containers
Flora Grubb’s has unique containers
Me posing at Annies Annuals which has funky gardening stuff
Me posing at Annies Annuals which has funky gardening stuff

 

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Annie's has demo gardens scattered around so you can see plants other that in pots
Annie’s has demo gardens scattered around so you can see plants other that in pots

Top 10 Garden Trends for 2016

 

Packaged cauliflower
Packaged cauliflower

1. Flower Power-Cauliflower is the next Kale!

It’s time to get out my crystal ball and find out whats coming up in the gardening world for 2016. Traveling to lots of nurseryman’s and flower shows, cutting edge gardens, and keeping up with my blog, gives me a good handle on what is up and coming in the gardening world. Some of these are trends have been around and are still going strong, while others are just getting a foothold, like Cauliflower!

carrots
Different colors of carrot are popular

According to the National Garden Bureau, 2016 is the year of the Carrot. I have to defer though to the rise of cauliflower, a cruciferous vitamin packed veggie, that has a unique ability to absorb flavors from other ingredients, rather like a chameleon. From cauliflower grilled steaks to peanut butter brownies, cauliflower has landed on top of the heap for a lot of people! Look at this great video on how to make the brownies.

Luscious cauliflower brownies
Luscious cauliflower brownies: The white is white chocolate, not cauliflower!

Cauliflower Brownies

The recipe is:

2 cups steamed cauliflower florets, cooled

3/4 c dark chocolate chips, melted

1/2 c cream cheese

4 Tbs smooth peanut butter

2 eggs

½ cup sugar

½ cup flour

½ cup cocoa powder

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup white chocolate chips

½ cup chopped peanuts

  1. Preheat oven to 350 and grease a 13×13 container

  2. In a food processor, process the cauliflower until completely smooth – this is important as if it is not smooth; it will result in a grainy textured brownie

  3. Add the cream cheese, peanut butter, eggs and sugar then blend again until smooth

  4. Add the flour, cocoa, baking powder, vanilla and blend well

  5. Spoon ½ the mixture into the container, then scatter the chocolate chips and peanuts over the layer

  6. Spoon the remaining mixture then bake in the oven for 40 minutes, until an inserted fork is clean

I tested making these brownies and they were some of the most flavorful moist brownies that I have ever had!

From ExpressoRecipes

There is actually a shortage of cauliflower due to cold in California’s Imperial Valley and the high demand for this sought after vegetable. Last time I bought it, the price was $5 per head. I have grown it several times but it is always done in by cabbage pests before I get to harvest it. Maybe I’ll give it another whirl.

2. Kale & Other Edibles-Horticulture Tied to Wellness

kale

Just ten years ago, Kale was not on the radar of the backyard grower. There were a few varieties which people planted occasionally, but now Kale is the “in” vegetable. In fact, Kale’s growth in the seed industry is “off the charts”. Farmers can’t keep up with demand. Personally, when I go to a nursery that sells seeds, Kale is usually sold out. Full of iron, vitamin A and C, Kale is the ultimate health food. Easy to grow, even during the winter, Kale packs a powerhouse of nutrients and is also a visually beautiful vegetable. Used in containers for color and texture, kale comes out on top of all the vegetables that I grow for no bother and “forget about it”. Virtually every month of the year, I am harvesting Kale!

Kale and lettuce in my cold frame
Kale, spinach, and lettuce in my cold frame
Curly purple kale used in a container
Curly purple kale used in a container, by Leigh Barnes

The ever-increasing interest and use of edibles in containers and in the garden is still up there. Think berries, fruit, and lots of kale. Okra is another super food that is coming into its own. Go to Okra-Superfood Superstar for more information on  growing it.

Kosmic Kale, a beautiful ornamental Kale which is good to eat
Kosmic Kale, a beautiful ornamental Kale which is good to eat

A beautiful new Kale variety I saw at a recent horticultural trade show was Kosmic Kale, a unique variety that has a cream-edged margin. When I first spotted it, I thought it was a new perennial, not a vegetable. I will be looking for this variety in the spring. What we put into our mouth and bodies has become increasingly important to the a generation of gardeners.

Kosmic Kale
Kosmic Kale
All kinds of berries, goji, blueberries, raspberries, and black berries are being planted and harvested
All kinds of berries- goji, blueberries, raspberries, and black berries are being planted and harvested for healthy eating

3. Pollinators & Milkweed

Common milkweed
Common milkweed

Native pollinators as well as the honeybee are still high up on the concern list for most people, gardeners or otherwise. Monarch butterflies are topping the list with an incredible outpouring of support and interest on how to increase the numbers of these beautiful pollinators and keep them healthy. Fortunately, the efforts to help monarchs, providing more and better habitat, reducing pesticide use, and raising the public’s awareness has spilled over and helps other lesser known varieties, like many of our native bees. Monarchs and honeybees are the poster children of this movement. If you provide better habitat for these canaries in the coal mines, then everyone benefits. One way to help out is to create a monarch way station to feed the monarchs on their long migration. Go to Monarch Way Station to see how to set your own up.

Monarch on Zinnia

Ordering milkweed plugs (tiny rooted plants) has become easy by going to The Milkweed Market . Order now to provide a safe haven for monarchs! Go to Got Milk….Weed? to check out the importance of growing milkweed.

Asclepias curassvica, 'Monarch Promise' a new vareigated milkweed
Asclepias curassvica, ‘Monarch Promise’ a new variegated milkweed I want to grow this year

As anyone knows, when you have monarch caterpillars munching down on your milkweed, they can run out fast especially with aphids joining in, so you never have enough of the stuff!

4. Bambi Proof

With the skyrocketing growth of deer and the distress of seeing your hard-earned cash become salad, people are demanding low maintenance deer resistant plants. More and more nurseries are setting aside areas that sell deer resistant plants to satisfy this huge market segment. Sprays and other deterrents cost money and aren’t very effective. Why not plant varieties that deer hate and forget about all those sprays?

A display of deer proof plants at a trade show
A display of deer proof plants at a trade show

 

Disney wedding 078See my Deer Combat post for strategies on planting for deer, and What is Deer Resistant, Blooms in the Winter, and is Evergreen? for the ultimate deer proof plant – Hellebores. Hellebores are a hot perennial because of their resistance and I have to say in 20 years, I have never seen a deer eat one, so these must be deer poison!

helleborus

Hellebores have been the hot ticket for hybridizers and dozens of varieties have hit the shelves just in the last 5 years. Black ones are hot!

Black Hellebore
Black Hellebore

5.  Houseplants- Bringing the Outdoors In

Air plant display at a recent trade show
Air plant display at a recent trade show

Houseplants were big in the seventies and then went out of flavor for a long time. Back in favor now but with new smaller and easy to care for varieties, air plants or tillandsias fit the bill. Anyone with an apartment or windowsill can have a thriving plant kingdom with little effort.

Air plants

 air plants

Green walls are popping up in homes, hotels and other indoor spaces, utilizing air plants and other houseplants. Providing a sanctuary of green living things and removing toxins from interior air pollutants, green walls are also a mood enhancer. Hotels have jumped on this bandwagon as providing an oasis away from home.

A living wall of herbs
A living wall of herbs
 A framed living wall
A framed living wall

6. Vintage Gardening

Anyone on Pinterest or Etsy, knows about vintage gardening. The popularity of old tools, historic seed art, and the nostalgia of old-fashioned gardening has started an industry of eBay listings selling well-used and well made tools.

Birdhouse made out of recycled itmes
Birdhouse made out of recycled items
Antique garden tools
Antique garden tools

I call it flea market gardening. Is it just me, but when I shop flea markets or goodwill, am I the only one who is looking for gardening stuff? I thought not! Vintage means less than 100 years old. Antique is 100 years or more. When I visited the Northwest Flower and Garden Show in Seattle this past February, there was an entire show area devoted to vintage gardening paraphernalia and I went crazy! See Vintage Gardening for my post. Just think- Leave It To Beaver meets Martha Stewart. Re-purposing is the name of the game.

Old chair with flowers
Old chair with flowers

vintage

 

Vintage and repurposed gardening tools
Vintage and re-purposed gardening tools
Old seed packets
Old seed packets

Seed packet art is really interesting and there are some funny ones as well as beautiful. Go to Seed Art to check out an interesting post on the history of this illustrative art form.

7. Re-Wilding-Integrating Tech Into Nature

Technology is often regarded as something that creates an artificial world, removing people from nature. To the contrary, however, technology is bringing humans into contact with wildlife and nature like never before. Wild turkeys, foxes, beaver, and coyotes, are very urban animals that have learned to live with man. Home gardeners and conservationists are working on creating wildlife habitats for creatures, inviting them in to restored nature in their backyard and parks. And we want to watch and photograph them. Gopro cameras are enormously popular and are used mostly in the outdoors. Attach one of these to a bird feeder or the dog to get unique natural outdoor views. Or attach it to your mountain biker or skier.

Beaver have become urban animals and have spread widely in the U.S.
Beaver have become urban animals and have spread widely in the U.S.

Nowadays, we carry our phones with us everywhere, even sleeping, so why not bring it into nature with a purpose? For purists who say you need to totally disconnect while in nature to enjoy, I am of two minds on this. I do love a walk with my dog with no music or any other distractions so I can enjoy a calming green experience with no distractions. But I always carry my phone with me to catch an interesting photo, like the one above of beaver activity or use it as a trail map.

If you want your kids to get out in nature, why not entice them with geo-caching? I have enjoyed this activity with my daughter where you search for a “cache” using coordinates with a GPS using your phone.  Like a scavenger hunt in nature, it’s a lot of fun and gets kids engaged in the outdoors.

Placing a broodminder into a beehive can give you important information remotely
Placing a broodminder into a beehive can give you important information remotely

Broodminder is another example of technology meeting nature. I purchased a “Broodminder” which measures temperature and humidity inside my bee hives and can be downloaded using my phone. Bee hive telemetry! Important measurements that can tell you a lot about your hive without having to leave your house and opening up a hive which can be disruptive to the colony.

8. Layered Landscapes

Instead of having acres of perennials stretching as far as the eye can see, as a landscape designer, I am designing more “layered” landscapes. Including evergreens, conifers, woody shrubs, bulbs, and annuals, in a design ensures an interesting landscape to give multi-season interest. I love perennials, but I am definitely seeing more varieties of woody shrubs and conifers at the trade shows.

Winter berries or Ilex verticilatta are definitely seeing an upswing in popularity
Winter berries or Ilex verticilatta are definitely seeing an upswing in popularity
This Dragon's Eye Pine is beautiful-Definitely a trend to plant more conifers
This Dragon’s Eye Pine is beautiful-Definitely a trend to plant more conifers

Layered means using a greater variety of plants, so you can have many things going on at once to enjoy in the garden. Multi-season interest is a over-used garden trope, but one that has instant recognition and conveys an idea with a purpose. Leaving dried and spent stems in the garden to enjoy in the winter is part of all season gardening. Underplanting small trees which are limbed up with bulbs, perennials, and annuals, mingling allium bulbs into plantings are all techniques that I use to get a layered effect.

Chanticleer Garden has wonderful layered gardens throughout
Chanticleer Garden has wonderful layered gardens throughout
Enjoying "dead" plants or plants that are done for the season is part of layering
Enjoying “dead” plants or plants that are done for the season is part of layering
Winter iinterest is part of layering a landscape
Winter interest is part of layering a landscape

 

 9. Pet Scaping and Chemicals

Dogs in the garden have to be safe with pesticide free areas
Dogs in the garden have to be safe with pesticide free areas

The statistics are bad. Half of all pet deaths over the age of ten is due to cancer according to the National Canine Cancer Foundation. Pet owners are waking up to this and using less toxic chemicals around their loved ones. New organic pesticides are becoming available to the home owner who tends to apply more pesticides per acre than farmers! A new one called Spinosad, an organic substance found in soil from an old rum distillery (no, I am not making this up!), can be used on outdoor ornamentals, lawns, vegetables and fruit. Produced by fermentation, Spinosad kills chewing insects when they ingest the chemical within one to two days. Even better, it will not persist in the environment. Spraying in the early evening hours, means that the spray will dry and won’t harm my honeybees. Organic lawn sprays and chemicals are becoming the norm, rather than the rule.

I will be spraying my spinosad on squash bugs
I will be spraying my spinosad on squash bugs

Pet Scaping is just landscape design with your pets in mind. Where to set your designer dog house or doggie ranch and what landscape specimens to plants around the dog house for shade and beautification just like your own house. How about a trickling water fountain or sprinkler next to the dog house to play in? Or a sandbox to dig in? Or straw to roll in?

Dogs like to roll in straw in my garden
Dogs like to roll in straw in my garden

10. Gardening With Purpose

pollinator garden

We are gardening with goals in mind. Planting a pollinator garden, growing hops for making beer, growing healthy heirloom vegetables, raising cut flowers, keeping the bees fed and happy are happening across the gardening world.  Instead of just planting a beautiful ornamental garden, consumers are thinking: How can I use/preserve this? Go to Plant These For the Bees to check out the best way to plant for our important pollinators.

Growing healthy food
Growing healthy food

pollinator garden

Residential landscapes are no longer just grass and trees spotted into the lawn. We want to enhance our everyday lifestyles by creating relaxation or meditation areas, or watch birds and butterflies. You can make this a reality by landscaping and gardening with specific goals in mind.

Creating a relaxation area with landscaping
Creating a relaxation area with landscaping
Observing birds is a popular pastime and people are planting bird friendly gardens
Observing birds is a popular pastime and people are planting bird friendly gardens

Next Up: Dwarf Tomatoes are in the Limelight