December 26, 2017.
With a year of conferences, tests, trials and garden visits under our belts, we’re excited to tell you about the big ideas we think will be influencing the gardening world in the months ahead. Beyond popular colors and new varieties, big-picture themes always emerge on the world (gardening) stage that prompt designers and plant breeders to shift their work towards our changing needs. This year, most of what we see heading your way has to do with population, technology, cooperation over competition, and plants that solve problems. Keep reading to see what we’ve been taking note of!
2018 GARDEN TRENDS: CONTAINERS
Container gardening isn’t exactly new, but we feel confident that it’s about to get a whole lot trendier! With populations set to rise only in cities over the next 30 years and homes already being built smaller, more and more people will choose to do their gardening in pots.
Two big populations — millennials and retirees — are more frequently living in smaller spaces. Growers are keeping up with this trend by hybridizing favorite varieties into dwarfs, meaning that they’re saving everything you love about these flowers, but breeding them to be much shorter. Some of our favorites are Compact Lavender, Dwarf Cosmos, and Dwarf Pampas Grass. If there’s a plant that you love, chances are you can find a dwarf variety of it!
Containers are a way for those living with small outdoor spaces (balconies included!) to create an oasis for pollinators in areas where they often need it most. It’s also a fantastic way for home gardeners to grow their own food — there are plenty of new dwarf vegetable varieties to choose from, as well.
Even for those with larger gardens to tend to, containers are an increasingly-popular way to dress up porches, patios, window boxes and entryways – or to create a low-commitment color combination that be changed up from year to year (or even from season to season). We’re excited to see what unique and fun container gardens come to life in 2018.
2018 GARDEN TRENDS: PLANTING FOR PRIVACY
If you spend your time staring at a monitor, sitting in traffic, and trying to escape the sounds of modernity (television and constant construction,) you may find yourself planting the beginnings of a private retreat. You can use tall, vining-plants, foliage-heavy varieties, and a sprinkling of your favorite flowers to block out annoying noises and eyesores.
With more and more of the population living in small spaces, this means closer quarters – and with that arrangement comes more noise. Dense plantings not only offer a sound buffer for those who crave peace and quiet in their lives, but plants can also function as a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign of sorts. When you’re not visible to your neighbors, they’re less likely to start an unwanted conversation.
Beyond Privacy: Defensive Plantings
Many aren’t just planting for privacy in their outdoor spaces, but are also strategically planting vines and thorny bushes to help with home security. These ‘defensive plantings’ work in two key ways: 1) they fill spaces and block access underneath windows and other vulnerable entry points and 2) they provide privacy for windows that face the street, making it difficult to see inside.
2018 GARDEN TRENDS: POLLINATORS & COOPERATIVE GARDENING
Last season, after Butterfly Weed was announced as the Plant of the Year, we watched with excitement as gardeners everywhere joined together to grow these showy, native perennials in a cooperative attempt to help the struggling Monarch population. In our eyes, that was only the beginning of a beautiful movement.
In 2018, we see a variety of other cooperative gardening ideas taking over throughout the country. Some of our favorite citizen science projects come from the Xerces Society, the National Audubon Society, and the National Pollinator Garden Network. Go to bumblebeewatch.org, from the Xerces Society, to submit your bumble bee sighting, participate in the annual Christmas Bird Count for the Audubon Society., or register your pollinator garden with the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge from the National Pollinator Garden Network. Besides these favorites, there are also endless ways to get involved with citizen science and help people throughout the country gather data on pollinator populations in your area.
Even if you aren’t planning to participate in these citizen science projects, 2018 will still be an important year to plant more for pollinators. One way to do this is to create a monarch waystation, which provides a variety of host and nectar plants for the dwindling butterfly population throughout their entire lifecycle. You can also plant bee-friendly varieties that bloom all season long.
Think Global, Plant Local
In 2017 we were excited to see an upswing in gardeners planting our Regional Pollinator Mixtures, which provide season-long food, shelter, and breeding grounds for a variety of pollinators native to your region. No matter what size garden you have — be it a small balcony or acres of land — 2018 is a great time to add more pollinator-friendly varieties to your landscape.
2018 GARDEN TRENDS: GROUNDCOVERS
Maybe it’s to save time, money, and resources by mowing and watering less, or maybe it’s to remedy annoying landscape problems (think erosion), but planting groundcovers has become a very smart trend. Find a foliage and flower combo that you like, and let it spread under trees, down embankments, and wherever the mower won’t reach.
With the extreme weather we’ve been experiencing throughout the country, groundcovers have become a low-maintenance and attractive solution to some of the problems gardeners have been facing. Groundcovers can help prevent erosion in areas with heavy rainfall or prone to wind, and can become an easy (and long-lasting) alternative to a demanding, high-maintenance lawn. As we find ourselves busier than ever with less time to manage our landscapes, groundcovers are quickly becoming a gardeners’ favorite way to spend less time maintaining their property.
2018 GARDEN TRENDS: PLANTING TO SOLVE PROBLEMS
As we look back on our forecast for the 2018 garden trends, we can’t help but see a common thread with all of them: utility. Although a garden is by default a way to create an aesthetically pleasing outdoor space, more and more gardeners are starting to grow to help solve problems in their personal landscapes and greater communities.