Trends I won’t be following this season

This is what's trending in the house right now: Erlicheer tazettas from Old House Gardens
This is what’s trending in the house right now: Erlicheer tazettas from Old House Gardens

At this time of year, the inboxes of garden writers (and editors of any genre) are flooded with trend report and predictions of what people will be planting, buying, and installing in the coming season. Most of it is so silly that my delete finger doesn’t stop moving enough to read more than a sentence or too. But, just for fun, here are the ones I will definitely be ignoring:

Apps and devices that will work together to send me messages about my plants
No. Way too fussy. And unnecessary.
I do like plant ID apps though and informative ones like Armitage’s. Though—when it comes to getting info on your device, Wikipedia and the various extension websites are fairly comprehensive, depending on your needs.

Plant “tables”
This came up when one of my garden designer friends suggested I have a succulent table. I can see why some might find that novel and attractive, but I like the easy mobility of containers. I don’t want this big object that can’t be used for what it is—a table.

Creating a garden where you can have cocktails
It’s not that I won’t be following this; I just don’t understand why people need to be told that they can sit and have drinks in their garden and need explanations of what they need to do to make that happen. Chairs and tables are a trend? (Sure, I get growing cocktail ingredients if you want, but it really did talk about having seating.).

Paying any attention whatsoever to Pantone colors
I agree with guest ranter Marianne Wilburn on this. As a magazine editor, I know that matching colors using Pantone is very important for graphic design, but I don’t need them in the garden.

Gnomes are back

Trends I do like, if they even aren’t trends anymore:
I do love using native plants, pollinator-friendly plants, and containers of all kinds. Water features are non-trending apparently; I still love them. And here’s something that apparently hasn’t been a trend since the nineteenth century but I still love it: bulb forcing. I also love art in the garden, but am very cautious about having too many objects. This is really a big trap for many gardeners, and the home and garden shows don’t help, with their tempting displays of ornamental goods that might look great on the shelf, but do little more than create clutter in the garden.

We’ll see. Did I miss any trends we should be talking about?

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Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regular radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world, and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at


  1. I agree, Elizabeth – every time I see a story about “garden trends”, my face immediately morphs into an approximation of Grumpy Cat. No – just no.

  2. I don’t follow trends whether in the garden. in fashion, or in my home. I do my own thing, which is why some people look at my garden and say, “What?” I’m glad there are other people who also ignore them.

  3. Well, of course you have cocktails in your garden! But trending or not, that’s what the whole garden is for, so yes to places to sit a look about. And yes to real art, not kitsch. Gnomes and gazing balls make me think what fun a pellet gun or sling shot would be.

    • I can take some gnomes, but I can’t take PINK flamingos, I want to get a shot gun and blow them off one by one because they are UGLY, plastic, and don’t belong in the garden or anywhere in the Rocky Mts…

  4. Contemplating seasonal seed starting, I just found a pack of paperwhites. Is it too late to force them, or should I plunk them in the ground in April (5B)?

    • They might work now. I forced some of mine months after I got them. They like more heat than they’ll get from 5b in spring, I’m thinking. You never know though.

    • I just put the last few of mine in a glass container filled with glass rocks — I’ve been starting a few each week since November. They all had green shoots even when I bought them, but they still grow just fine as soon as you give them water and light. Easy peasy — go ahead and grow them.

  5. Will somebody please tell me where I can see a plant table?? I’ve seen the term enough now so that I want to see a picture of one. I’ve tried “the Google” with no luck. Elizabeth has just given me a better notion of what people are talking abut. Thanks Elizabeth.

    No, I do not want one of my own. I just want to be aware of what the heck people are talking about. Then I can disparage this “trend” appropriately. 🙂


    • Try Pinterest – people are always posting impractical ideas like this, particularly on garden boards. So many ideas that are cute or interesting in the moment, but would not age well.

  6. I do have a few little gnomes that my daughter likes to hide in the flowers and foliage and move around. Rien Poortvliet’s book was magical for me as a girl, so I like to have a few sneaky guys. I think we’ll make some toadstools too. Great fun, but definitely NOT at all trendy. Ha! (Maybe they seem more stylish after a few cocktails in the garden?)

  7. I like gnomes — they’re the anti-garden-snob statuary, and they make me laugh (unless they’re the creepy, sinister-looking sort — I like the friendly-looking sort). 🙂

  8. Trends come & go … & who knows what will be “in” next year. In the meantime, my garden happily grows on without paying too much attention to them. I have lots of succulents, both in pots & in the ground, but none of them adorn (or overtake) a table!

  9. I really don’t understand the whole Pantone colors-in-the-garden “trend”. So when new colors become trendy do you just rip out last year’s plants and put in more. I’ve got enough to keep me occupied in my garden without doing all that silliness. And I like my crazy, mixed-up so-called color scheme just fine.

    Another trend I see is the use of tumbled glass “pebbles” for pathways, or instead of mulch around plants, etc. Don’t the folks who use that have to work pretty hard to keep it clean? I live in a somewhat dusty place, sure. But even if you don’t, doesn’t debris & dirt build up fairly fast? I hate dusting inside the house – I sure don’t want to start worrying about it outside!

  10. Brilliant! Gnomes always make me vaguely uncomfortable, but I did by a handful of little stone turtles to scattern in my flower beds last year for the neighbor kids to hunt for.

  11. Ah yes, ‘trends’ – aka a cunning plan by marketing bods to convince us we’ll all be behind that curve if we don’t embrace this new trend…..usually a good sales ploy, until they mentioned Gnomes and Succulent parties.

    Well sorry I like you, am quite happy to hide behind that curve and will happily maintain my old tried and trusted ‘TRENDS’ until they are fashionably retro!

    • Sigh. It might be better for the forests if nobody ever visited – if everything else were the same. But “development” and similar crimes against nature occur precisely because too many people feel no connection to nature. If it’s a park, it’s already invaded by people. Let’s teach more young people to love trees, fresh air, and walking, and maybe they’ll support this same park – and others – 30 years from now.

      Gnomes in my garden? No. But in the park, bringing in the kids, yes.

  12. Loved this! The “serious” stuff is never a trend–like water conservation and sitting on chairs (trendy or not) to have a cocktail. I’d also love to see Susan’s Grumpy Cat face and I’m applauding Laura Bell right now. I watch people install tumbled glass instead of grass and what do they do: go out and blow it!

  13. The only trend that I follow is to keep improving; which is often defined as editing. I have my own style and have the simple goal of better communicating that style — which embraces my garden guests.

    I do not quite agree with “cautious about having too many [art] objects.” In the first place, most “art” is acquired at a craft show — which should more accurately be called a “crap show”. It is extremely difficult to place too much high quality art in a garden setting. Of course, cost is usually the policing factor.


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