The T-word floods the internets as all the garden show speakers make their pronouncements. Here’s Dan Benarcik, a horticulturist at Chanticleer Garden in Wayne, Pa., and instructor at Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, who is speaking at a show in Pittsburgh, March 8:
Three major trends in public horticulture are influencing gardens today, according to Benarcik. They include the return of tropical plants and Victorian bedding plants as seasonal displays, and a newfound awareness of colors and textures in foliage in addition to flowers. The third is an up-and-coming trend toward plant architecture, or selecting plants for their distinctive structure.
On the other hand, Jeff Lowenfels says from Alaska that besides organic methods, the next big thing is “programs selling specialty flowering plants, which are nationally promoted under a brand name in magazines and other media. The most noticeable of these is the Proven Winners program, which has been around for several years. There are four or five big growers who distribute to thousands of nurseries, such as ours in Anchorage, a few dozen hybrid plants developed especially for the home grower. Local nurseries get plants as plugs and grow them until they are sold. Each plant is given a special label with instructions, the trademarked program name and a great picture of the plant. Most are sold when they are in bloom.”
I dunno, I do like some of the Proven Winners cultivars, but sometimes they just seem a way to charge more for plants. Disturbingly, Lowenfels next warns that due to droughts in Georgia, Oregon, and Minnesota, there will be far fewer plants available for sale this spring
Ah yes, the Color Marketing Group. I love them. They pick the hot colors and then distribute gorgeous images that illustrate the colors. They also brought us avocado green and harvest gold in the late 60s. (My mom is shown with her gold fridge, above.) Fortunately for us, they’re stressing “colors of nature,” stressing that colors need to be “green” whether they’re actually green or not. “Anything that looks like something that helps save the environment will be big,” says CMG spokesperson Amy Larrabee. They also predict a heavier use of red, partially inspired by the Beijing Olympics, and concur with British designer Rachel de Thame, quoted by Amy a few posts back: pink and lavender are returning into favor. Too bad I am already well on my way to replacing those colors with yellow/orange, and purple/blue. Lavender always ends up looking muddy in my space.
And then, of course, the usual talk of outdoor living and containers, especially vegetables in containers, continues. I know several people who do really well with heirloom tomatoes in containers.
I don’t know what trends I’ll be following this spring (other than the usual one of trying to keep my garden from looking like crap), but I am interested in trying for 1. More native plants. Regardless of what Michael Pollan might think about that, I’m interested in them. 2. More verticality. I think more tall plants and vines are needed in my narrow, urban space. 3. Less one-of-a-kinds; more groups of the same plant for coherence. 4. And I must find room for a small bar, or some kind of place to stash entertaining accoutrement. I guess that’s trendy.