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North Hills Monthly

Garden Trends for 2015

Feb 27, 2015 06:36PM ● By Denise Schreiber

 “The genius of investing is recognizing the direction of a trend – not catching highs and lows.”

— John Bogle, founder of The Vanguard Group

Recognizing the direction of a trend is good, and following it is a matter of personal choice. Just look at fashion, which can sometimes make you wonder if people ever look in the mirror before leaving the house.

And so it is with garden trends. You can follow them, and own the newest and most unusual plants in the garden center, or you can stick with the tried-and-true. One thing about us horticulturists—we are collectors. We drool over new nursery introductions and have to have one of each for our yards, even those of us who live on postage stamp-sized lots. So let’s take a look at some of the garden trends for the coming growing season.

Edibles are one of the latest trends, but are they new? No, it’s just another name for vegetables. Over the past few years, there have been numerous food scares, including contaminated food in grocery stores. Some people are worried about pesticides on their food, or worried that food items may have been contaminated with peanuts or eggs, two foods that can cause dangerous allergic reactions in individuals. For these reasons, they want to grow their own crops.

There are lots of new varieties out there, especially plants for growing in containers or small gardens. One thing that makes edibles ‘hot’ is the idea that you can go pick some or all of your dinner from your garden at the peak of perfection. There’s nothing like a sun-warmed tomato, a spicy pepper, or onions, asparagus and more at your fingertips for just a little bit of work and even less money. Buying local is important, too, since you can not only track your food but are supporting local businesses.

Gardentainment, or incorporating the outdoors as an extension of your home for entertaining, is another trend. This is more than grilling some hot dogs out on the deck. High quality outdoor furniture, smokers, hammocks, outdoor kitchens, television and sound systems, hot tubs, fire pits, fans, cooling misters and more provide the perfect setting for entertaining.

But it isn’t just hard goods that make up gardentainment. Imagine using home-grown cut flowers as a simple centerpiece, or blending drinks using ingredients from your garden. How does a frozen peach-basil Bellini or a cucumber vodka smoothie sound? You get to be very creative and impress your guests. Artwork is important, too. Not the old lady bending over or the resident concrete goose dressed for every holiday, but enameled flowers, stained-glass wind chimes or a great piece of driftwood from the beach. It can be whimsical, subtle or in-your-face, but you can express yourself in your garden.

Sustainability is also a trend. Use, reuse, repurpose, organics, composting and rain barrels are all part of sustainability, with the goal of reducing your family’s impact on the environment in order to save it for the next generation. Think of repurposing as kind of a trash-to-treasure. An old rusty wheelbarrow makes a great planter when tipped down and filled with flowers. The fish fountain that no longer works can be used in the garden as a piece of art. Old gutters can be painted, nailed to a fence and used as vertical planters for herbs, lettuce and succulents. Rain barrels can reduce runoff into the sewer system and also provide an extra source of water for the garden—I keep mine hooked up to the gutters on my shed so that I can water trees that are too far from the garden hose.

Compost is black gold to plants, and a simple way of returning nutrients to the soil. Throw vegetable scraps and other non-meat items into your compost pile and reuse the potting soil from your containers in your compost bins to break scraps down. This keeps garbage out of municipal landfills where it can lead to watershed pollution. Organic pesticides are also useful and cause less harm to the environment, too.

Pollinator gardens are also a trend this year. By planting certain trees, shrubs and flowers, you can attract pollinators and predatory insects that eat the bad guys in the garden. Pollinator gardens are so much more than butterfly gardens—with them, you provide food and shelter for adults and young ones, as well as create a habitat that allows nature to take care of its own, so to speak. Milkweed, butterfly weed, dill, yarrow, bee balm and zinnias are easy-to-grow plants that will attract these flying jewels to your garden; just remember not to use any pesticides.