Top 14 Garden Trends for 2015

 

Orange is the New Black
Orange is the New Black

I don’t need to read tea leaves or get out my crystal ball to figure out what is bubbling up in the horticulture world for 2015. 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 smoking or drinking your garden!  Or one of my personal favs,  Orange is the New Black!

Orange is being used everywhere in the garden
Orange is being used everywhere in the garden

 2014 Trends

For a read on the 2014 trends, go to Top 12 Garden Trends For 2014. What was trending a year ago still is gathering steam, like grafted vegetables, especially tomatoes. I grew 3 grafted tomatoes last season and I need to grow some more to say for sure if the extra work (grafting when young) and expense is worth it.

 1. Native Pollinators-Pollinator gardens are still going strong for native pollinators such as mason bees, honeybees, and butterflies. But in keeping with back to nature gardening, people are thinking about plants that sustain pollinators as well as birds, so we are looking for and planting multi-use/season plants. The newest wrinkle is creating 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

2. 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.

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.

helleborus

 

3. New Cultivars- The pace of new cultivar releases increases every year so that I can’t keep up with all the new varieties rolling off the plant benches. But think colorful foliage plants, dwarf plants, and new varieties of old fashioneds on steroids like the new gomphrena ‘Pink Zazzle Gomphrena’. Plant breeders are looking to amp up the size and color of flowers to appeal to consumers. Oodles of color and larger flowers, are the order of the day.

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‘Pink Zazzle’ Gomphrena

4. Food in Jars- Definitely, not your grandma’s canning! Preserving food in small designer batches like chutney and tomato jam, make growing veggies fun and creative. Go to my post All Jammed Up! Easy Tomato Jam to make a delicious chocolate-laced jam. People are having a new kind of party-preserving ones! I know because I have had several, like Jam Session for strawberry jam.

Tomato Jam
Tomato Jam

5.  PPA-Geranium ‘Biokovo’- Finally a  perennial Geranium made this coveted list, the Perennial Plant Association Plant of the Year. Geraniums are the unsung heroes of the perennial world – tough, attractive during most of the season, long-lived, and an underused deer-proof ground cover. Not a glamorous plant by any means, but I would not be without these workhorses. See Choosing the Right Ground Cover For Shade for more examples of under-used ground covers.

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The deeply lobed leaves of Biokovo Geranium turn an attractive russet color in the autumn and winter

6. Eco-Chic/Homesteading- Raising bees, chickens, rabbits, and goats has gotten quite trendy. As an off-shoot you can make your own soap, body cream, and cheese even! Go to my post Beekeeping Start-Up, How to Jump Into the World of Beekeeping, and Beekeeping 101 to see if this is something you are dying to try. My post Honey Scented Body Butter is one of my top five post for hits. Go figure….

Beehive

Growing your own food organically still tops the list of most gardeners and is intimidating to newbies. Start small, take it slow, and don’t bite off more than you can chew, is the best advice I can give. As you grow more confident and are successful with a small garden, move on to larger projects. Talk to any gardener in August, and they will wish that they didn’t have such a large garden to weed and water! Many people are buying organic veggies at the local farmer’s market if they don’t have access to space for a garden, or alternatively growing edibles in containers.

Patio Baby Eggplant is made to grow in containers
Patio Baby Eggplant is made to grow in containers
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Buying organic vegetables at a local farmer’s market is a trend that just keeps spreading

 

7. Slow/Thoughtful Gardening-Growing plants that need less water, are more pest resistant and better for the environment just got pushed up the garden trend list. People are becoming more responsible in plant selections, educating themselves about the varieties before going to the nursery, or looking it up on their smart phone while at the nursery. There are tons of plants that don’t have pot appeal in the spring when most people visit the nursery, that languish on the benches. Instead these plants should be jumping in the cart, because they are a better choice than a spring fling plant. Good examples are fall blooming perennials like Monkshood-Deadly Blue Beauty or Autumn All-Stars.

Monkshood blooms in  October
Monkshood blooms in October

8. Growing Super Foods/Edibles-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(dinosaur, preferably). Okra is another super food that is coming into its own. Go to Okra-Superfood Superstar for more information. The only problem for me is that I don’t like okra!

Aug 2010 016
Dinosaur kale is very trendy

 

So many people don’t have the time or space to devote to a large vegetable growing operation, but when the edibles are contained and automatically watered, it becomes doable.

Growing edibles in easily accessible, self watering containers is very popular
Growing edibles in easily accessible, self watering containers is very popular

8.Water Friendly Gardening- I know, I know, this has gotten a little long in the tooth in gardening worlds. But really, as a landscape designer, water friendly gardening besides deer proof plants, is the number one request. Rain barrels, rain gardens, and using natives that use less water are high on client’s wish lists. See Rain Barrel Eye Candy.

 

Painted rain barrel
Painted rain barrel

 

9. Cool Nurseries-Nurseries are becoming a destination, not just a place to buy tomato plants. Look at Flora Grubb (yes, that is her name!) at Grubb Heaven in San Francisco who says “My goal is always to provide a fascinating encounter with the natural world”. It is not just a gardening store, it is an experience. See Annie’s Annuals and Escape to Surreybrooke, for more destination nursery adventures.

San Francisco fling 044 - Copy
Me having fun at Annie’s Annuals in San Francisco

10. Sedum/Succulent Mania-It has just begun; Look for colorful fantastic shapes and new ways of using them. Succulents are tough, can take abuse and neglect, and come in a dazzling array of shapes and textures. See Succulent Creations for ideas.

Array of colorful succulents
Array of colorful succulents

11. Small is Big- Miniature/Fairy GardeningPredicted by many to have run its course, this is still running strong with smaller versions (terrarium sized) of regular sized plants. My most popular blog by far is still Home For A Gnome. When I posted this, I was getting more than 2000 hits on my blog a day, where normally I get around 200. I will be doing a fairy/miniature gardening demo at the Philadelphia Flower Show this March, so people are still enthralled with the miniature idea.

Gnome Home
Gnome Home

 

Outdoor miniature garden
Outdoor miniature garden

12. Drink and Smoke Your Garden-Growing your own organic herbs to muddle in a drink, or adding a sprig of lemon thyme in a drink, or making tea from culinary herbs is all the rage.  But I am seeing another related trend just beginning and gathering a little steam, and that is growing marijuana. With the decriminalization of weed in many states, growing your own is not far behind. Growing is legal with the recent passage of Amendment 64 in Colorado, where you can cultivate up to 6 plants per adult in your home. Just think of the grow lights and plants that will be flying off the nursery shelves when this hits!

Cannabis plant
Cannabis plant

 

Steeping herbs for tea

13. Repurposing/Old Meets New-Personal style is reflected on how you design and decorate your outdoor spaces. Whether it is a bottle tree that you created or pallets repurposed to build outdoor furniture or containers, this is both an interior and exterior trend.

A repurposed Christmas tree set up as a bottle tree
A repurposed Christmas tree set up as a bottle tree
Repurposing stainless steel kitchen equipment for a garden bench
Repurposing stainless steel kitchen equipment for a garden bench
Using vintage watering cans as decorations
Using vintage watering cans as decorations

14. Orange is the New Black

When I visited Portland this summer and toured some cutting edge gardens, the frequent use of orange flowers and accessories struck me.  Black plants used to be the “in” flower and foliage color,  see 50 Shades of Black, but I think orange has overtaken black for the hottest shade. Maybe it hasn’t hit the east coast yet, but we are always behind the trendy west coast. See Orange is the New Black post to see how orange has come a long way.

Orange Abutilon
Orange Abutilon

Orange is the new black

Frugal Gardener-Growing on a Budget

No matter what you hear about growing your own veggies or flowers, you are not going to save a wheelbarrow of money as some people claim. Start up costs and ongoing costs usually are an unpleasant surprise for beginning gardeners. You have outlays of seeds and plants, soil, stakes, tools, watering costs, containers, mulch, and fencing for pests. On the plus side, you do have the satisfaction of growing something for yourself that is healthy and free of pesticides, and the often overlooked benefit of being outdoors and keeping active.

There are some penny-wise strategies on gardening which you should consider before plunking down a whole bunch of money, or till up a huge patch of virgin soil and become frustrated by the heat, the bugs, and lack of rain.

Here are some tips on cutting costs so you can have healthy food and decorate your home with fresh-cut flowers all season long.

Starting Seeds-Waste or Savings?

Grow light with PVC stand
Grow light with PVC stand

Yes, starting seeds will save you some money if you do it right. But think of your startup costs – grow lights, heating mats, growing medium, containers, seeds, fertilizer, space, and unexpected happenings like forgetting to water for a few days. See my post on To Seed Or Not To Seed to see how to use recyclables for containers and how I start my seeds. Also go to Art of the Seed to see how to make newspaper seed starters for ways to cut your costs.

Recyclables for starting seeds
Recyclables for starting seeds

So many garden forums tout the cost savings of starting plants from seeds, but beginners beware-It ain’t easy! Do you really want to tend the seedlings for months, and battle damping off (fungal disease), commitment of  house space, and if you don’t have a grow light- leggy seedlings? And once you get them outside and  don’t acclimate them in a cold frame, the seedlings wilt from the unaccustomed wind and hot sun, and months of work just melted away! If I sound pessimistic about starting seeds inside, I still struggle after 30 years. Go to newgardenerblues to check a fellow blogger’s post on starting seeds at Will I Ever Start Seeds Again?

Using newspaper to make seed starters
Using newspaper to make seed starters

There are some plants that are a waste to buy; cucumber, corn, beans, melons, squash, lettuce, and some herbs. For those veggies, direct seed them when the soil warms up. For flowers, direct seed zinnias, poppies,cosmos, sunflowers, marigolds, and tithonia as they grow easily from seed and it would be throwing money away to buy plants of these. Usually the larger the seed, the easier it is to germinate. Also, direct seeded plants will outstrip transplants as they are already rooted in.

Swiss chard is easy to direct seed and delicious
Swiss chard is easy to direct seed and delicious

For 17 easy-to-grow seed varieties, both veggies and flowers, go to http://www.mnn.com/your-home/organic-farming-gardening/stories/17-easy-to-start-seeds-for-beginner-gardeners

For veggies, grow what your family likes and will eat. And try to grow things that are pricey at the market, such as asparagus, fancy mixed greens, artichokes, tomatoes, and peppers. Also, you have the opportunity to grow things that you can’t buy at the market. If space is a premium, don’t grow things such as pumpkins, corn, and winter squash which eat up the ground and produce too little produce for the room invested.

 

Berry Investment

Blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries are a great investment. We eat a lot of berries and they are so easy to grow and pick. Go to Blueberry Bonanza and Rolling In The Blackberries to find out the best way to grow these. I still have blueberries in the freezer from July.

Blackberries
Blackberries

 

Bulbs

Tulips blooming through creeping phlox
Tulips blooming through creeping phlox

Add bulbs to your garden every year, and you will get years of enjoyment from them blooming in the garden, as well as cut flowers in a vase. For example, a King Alfred daffodil bulb at a big box store is about .90 a piece.  Daffodil bulbs will multiply many times over while in the ground and you would recoup that investment in no time. Bulbs are the gift that keeps on giving! Be wary of planting bulbs like tulips that attract deer and are tasty treats for squirrels. But planting daffodils is like money in the bank.

Cut bouquet of daffs
Cut bouquet of daffs

Compost-Creating Fertilizer

Composting kitchen scraps
Composting kitchen scraps

Composting all your organic table scraps and yard waste is a huge savings for me in fertilizer costs. Compost adds valuable nutrients to your soil, and keeps it healthier than using chemical fertilizers. Have you checked the prices on fertilizers lately? Expensive! Go to Here’s the Dirt on Composting to see ways that you can compost in your kitchen or in your yard.

compostables

Don’t bag up those leaves for the landfill this fall. Dedicate a corner in your yard as a compost heap where you can dump all your organic debris. It could be an open air pile or one of the enclosed composters on the market if you are a neatnik.

Composting week poster
Composting week poster

Composting is the sustainable way of gardening, plus saves you money!

Tools-Get the Right Ones

A digging knife is indispensable
A digging knife is indispensable

You don’t need anything fancy or expensive. If I were on a desert island and could just have three gardening tools, I would pick a digging spade, a digging knife, and a rake. Oh, and my Felco Pruners! A digging knife will outlast any trowels that you can buy, will cost a little more initially, but will never break or bend like trowels do.

Be a good housekeeper in your garden shed and to ensure that your tools last, clean and oil them in the fall so they don’t rust while not in use.

Rain Barrels

A set up with double rain barrels
A set up with double rain barrels

Water is expensive and can add a lot to your gardening bill, especially if you have a large vegetable garden. Make or buy some rain barrels for each of your downspouts. I picked up my empty barrels from a cola bottling plant for $7, and with a few pieces of hardware, converted them into rain barrels. Go to my post Rain Barrel Eye Candy and see how easy it is to make one in about an hour. Easy, even I could do it!

 

Rebar

I love Rebar (reinforcing bar) which is used for concrete strengthening work. Made in different lengths and available at Home Depot, you can make just about anything with it in the garden. Stakes, fences, gates, arbors- the possibilities are endless. I place rebar across my pond in the late fall and drape a net over it to keep leaves from falling in. Rebar is a couple a dollars a piece and will last forever, unlike those wimpy bamboo stakes that always need replacing. Another idea is to simply stick rebar in the ground and wrap snow fence around it for a compost pile.

Rebar has many uses in the garden
Rebar has many uses in the garden

 

Rain Barrel Eye Candy

Decorated Rain Barrel

Join the Trend

It seems like everyone these days is thinking about a rain barrel or has already installed at least one at their home.  Some are very plain and utilitarian, while others have been decorated to complement the home. If you want to join the trend, here are simple pointers on getting you started.

What It Does

A rain barrel is simply a large container at the end of your drainpipe that collects rain water that comes off your roof. You can fill a 60 gallon rain barrel in a matter of minutes in a good rain storm.  All the water off your roof would otherwise be diverted into the main sewage drains and enter the Chesapeake Bay eventually. Just a quarter inch of rain falling on the average home produces over 200 gallons of water.

Different Types of Barrels

How It Helps

Lawn and gardening watering make up nearly 40% of your total household usage during the summer months. You can use the water in your rain barrel for washing your car, watering outdoor plants, and filling your pool. A typical rain barrel will save homeowners around 1,300 gallons of water during the peak summer water usage months. That is a lot of savings on your water bill and is an easy way to help protect the Chesapeake Bay. Your rain barrel is your contribution in reducing ground water usage, reducing Bay-killing storm water runoff, and helping rain water replenish the groundwater supply.

How-To

Here is a quick step-by-step on how to make an inexpensive rain barrel:

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Here is a great link on more information about rain barrel construction:http://www.portlandonline.com/bes/index.cfm?a=182095&c=50367

If you are intimidated about making your own, buy one online or at a local nursery or even better- participate in a local workshop. For the Md area, go to http://www.bluewaterbaltimore.org/programs/clean-waterways/waterauditprogram/rain-barrels/ and they have workshops scheduled throughout the year for a reasonable price.

Rain Barrel Workshop at Cylburn

But rain barrels usually aren’t that attractive especially if you have them at the front of your house.  They tend to stick out especially if they are a glaring white which my rain barrel was, so I decided to decorate it and reflect my personal tastes.

Make it Unique!

If you have a piece of fabric that you really love, use that for your color inspiration. If you are a wine lover, try the grapes and leaves that is pictured. For beach lovers or beach residents, I have seen really creative ones with herons, and beaches themes painted on them. The ideas that you can use are endless.  I ended up with a totally whimsical creation from nature because I love the beautiful colors of lizards and newts.

Follow these easy steps in creating your masterpiece:

  • Prepare the surface-this stage is critical for the white plastic ones as the surface is slippery and smooth. Clean the barrel thoroughly with a soap solution and dry.  You have to lightly sand the surface to rough it up so that paint sticks to it.
  • Prime- it– I went to Home Depot and picked up Martha Stewart’s Living Exterior Flat Latex Paint to prime and paint it.  It took 4 coats to completely cover  it!  You might be able to get away with 3 coats but I wanted to make sure that it lasted and didn’t flake off. It is important to use a high quality paint as it will be out in the weather.
  • Decorate– This is the fun part!  If you don’t  feel comfortable painting designs on the barrel, enlist some artist friend’s help.  Sketch out what you want to do before you start painting.  Anything goes and here is your chance to be creative! Use stencils like the grape vine barrels below if you feel intimidated about painting a design. I painted the base and had my talented daughter paint the designs.
  • Protect- I bought a few cans of polyurethane spray and      coated it thoroughly with a couple of layers.
Wine Lovers Rain Barrel

Get It Level

Rain barrels work on gravity and must be raised up from the ground to work properly.  Four concrete blocks laid into a square covered with a slab of bluestone works fine and makes it more attractive.

Leveling Up the Base

Tandem Arrangement

You can also hook together several rain barrels to increase your holding capacity. If you are worried about breeding mosquitoes, you can throw in some mosquito dunks which is a natural pesticide in a pellet form sold at nurseries to kill any hatching larvae.  I never use these because I always use the water in the barrel within a short time.  The collected water never sits around when I have some plants nearby to use it on.

Tandem Rain Barrels

If you don’t want to go the paint route, then just cover the barrel with chicken wire or enclose with lattice and grow vines on it!

Rain Barrel Before Painting