About this time last year, I sat down to write a blog post about trends for the coming gardening season. Who could have predicted that a global pandemic would sweep in and have such a profound effect on every aspect of our day-to-day lives?
Here in Ontario, we emerged from that initial lockdown right around the time that most nurseries would kick into high gear for the spring season. Even though masks and social distancing made everyday errands, like trips to the grocery store, feel strange, I remember how happy I was to find myself strolling down the nursery isle on a fine June day looking at annuals that were literally fresh off the truck. That bright sunny morning, I snatched up as many plants as would fit in the trunk of my car, vowing to make a return visit to pick up a few more to round out my container plantings.
Boy was I disappointed! When I finally made it back the following week the place looked like it had been ransacked. Most of the annuals were gone and the seed racks stood empty. Even the perennials, which I usually pick up on clearance much later in the season, had been sold out.
In the midst of a global pandemic, while everyone was stuck at home worrying about future food insecurity and toilet paper supplies, so many people discovered a new passion for gardening. Mailorder companies and nurseries experienced record sales.
As the CBC reported last May, many seed vendors had to suspend internet sales to deal with the backlog of orders. Canadian supplier, Vessey’s Seeds, saw an unprecedented increase in sales of 450% and that’s with over 80 years in the business!
It’s interesting to note that the demographics for Vessey’s mailorder sales are typically consumers in the 50 to 65-year-old age group (with the second most popular group being in the 65+ bracket). In 2020, the majority of digital consumers were between the ages of 25 and 35. In other words, a whole new generation discovered gardening in 2020.
So what does 2021 have in store for us?
Trend #1 More Backyard Food Gardens
As we all know, the economy has taken a beating and we aren’t out of the woods yet. Here in the Toronto area, our lockdown (with its strict stay at home orders) has been extended into March. Depressingly enough, there is still talk of a third wave of infections. Vaccines are rolling out at a glacial pace.
I think it is safe to say that, in Canada at least, many of the factors that drove last year’s sales of vegetable seeds and seedlings will still be in effect.
Two books on vegetable gardening– one old, one new this spring: The Art of Vegetable Gardening by Matt Mattus from 2018 and the New Heirloom Garden: Designs, Recipes and Heirloom Plants for Cooks who love to Garden by Ellen Ecker Ogden.
Trend #2 Raised Beds
Raised vegetable garden beds have become hugely popular and will continue to be so this gardening season.
It’s no wonder – they elevate the humble veggie garden by making them seem tidy and organized. Raised beds also allow you to garden in a small footprint.
The soil in raised beds thaws drains and warms up earlier than soil in the ground making it possible to get a head start on cool-weather crops like peas, lettuce and beets. Because you fill a raised beds with fresh, nutrient-rich soil, you can garden almost anywhere; on top of gravel, clay or poor soil, pavement and even rooftops.
What is the”it” flower that everyone seems to want to grow in 2021? It’s the dahlia. No surprise – they’re showy and come in such an amazing array of flower forms and colors.
Looking for some inspiration? Floret’s newest book, Discovering Dahlias: A Guide to Growing and Arranging Magnificent Blooms.
Trend #5 Unusual or New Varieties of Common Flowers
Trend #6 The Backyard as a Multifunctional Outdoor Living Space
Money that once went into a vacation is now being poured into making the backyard a destination. With nowhere to go, homeowners are seeing their outdoor spaces with fresh eyes. A garden is a perfect place to read, relax, exercise and dine.
Expect sales of pools, solariums and fireplaces to continue to soar in 2021.
Trend #7 Earth-Friendly Gardening
I am loath to think that nature and eco-friendly practices might ever be considered “trendy”, but I do think environmental concerns are important issues for most gardeners. Improving the soil, composting and using organic weed and pest controls are practices most gardeners want to follow.
Declining populations of songbirds, Monarch butterflies and bees have been dominate environmental issues in recent years. As a result, pollinator gardens have become hugely popular.
The issue I see moving more to the forefront in 2021 and beyond is single-use plastics. At present, it’s confusing which plastic pots can and can’t be recycled. Black plastic pots are not recyclable, while pots marked 1, 2 and 5 on the bottom are (trying to find the designation isn’t always easy). Any pots that go into the recycling bin must also be clean and free of any metal or handles. Sorting pots that wind up in recycling programs is time-consuming and therefore expensive.
Single-use plastics are a huge issue that has nursery companies looking for creative solutions. Expect to see more discussion of the problem going forward.
Trend #8 The Cut Flower Boom
It’s not surprising more people will be interested in growing flowers in 2021. When everything around you feels grim, flowers are such a great pick-me-up. Homegrown vegetables are practical. Flowers are for the soul.
Arranging what you grow is both fun and creative. Normally, we might not have the time to devote to displaying flowers, but our restless energy needs a creative outlet these days.
Trend #9 Themed Gardens
It’s going to be a while before many traditional gardeners (the over 50 age group) feel comfortable enough to travel overseas. Introducing touches of faraway places into our humble backyard spaces is a way to travel without packing a suitcase. I can see themed gardens inspired by faraway places becoming increasingly popular.
For more novice gardeners, choosing a particular style or color theme gives selecting hardscaping, decorative accessories and plants a helpful focus.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post. Let me know in the comments if any trends are inspiring your spring projects this year.