Archive for the ‘Garden Trends’ Category


Did I mention there were orchids?

Here’s the problem with going to garden events, such as those I attended this weekend: You get so many ideas that you have to think about adding more space. Maybe I’ll expand my front gardens and add one of the hardy shrub roses Kathy Zuzek recommended, such as ‘Lillian Gibson’ or ‘Harrison Yellow‘. No, wait, how about ‘Candy Oh! Vivid Red,’ a variety hybridized by David Zlesak, a young U of M educator who has written for Northern Gardener.

Wait, maybe, instead I’ll add an herb garden, filled with the three kinds of basil and Lavendula ‘Hidcote‘ in a pot and a bunch of other herbs recommended by Theresa Mieseler of Shady Acres Herb Farm. No, wait, I’m going to plant that great big annual salvia, Yvonne’s Giant, which Donald Mitchell recommends for attracting hummingbirds. And, that doesn’t take into account the enthusiastic peony and dahlia gardeners I talked with Sunday at the MSHS Plant Society Day at Gertens.

So many ideas, so little space.


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I was in Menards the other day buying some gear to start seeds indoors when the helpful guy in the light department told me they were out of the kind of light I was looking for and it would not be in stock for another week.  It seems more folks are starting vegetables from seed, he noted. Now we have hard evidence of that observation. The National Gardening Association yesterday unveiled its survey on gardening intentions for 2009, and it’s no surprise that more folks are planning vegetable gardens for this summer. Here are the relevant stats:

  • 43 million U.S. households say they plan to grow vegetables and fruits in 2009, compared to 36 million in 2008. That’s a 19 percent increase in a single year.
  • Of those households that already do some food gardening, 11 percent said they plan to increase the amount and variety of things they grow. In addition, 10 percent said they will spend more time on their food gardens.
  • These increases are on top of a 10 percent increase in food gardening between 2007 and 2008.

Why are more people growing fruits and veggies? The desire to save money in a struggling economy is a big reason (54 percent), but the quality and safety of home-grown food are just as important, the survey found. (The top reason — 58 percent — said it tastes better.) I also think that in difficult times people like to do something to control their own fate. Growing your own healthy, delicious food is the ultimate act of independence. At the same time, gardening leads to a greater connection to the land you live on and the people around you. Let’s grow!

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The Official Swatch from Pantone: Mimosa

Remember that yellow dress Michelle Obama featured at the Inauguration last month? That color will be coming to a garden near you this summer. In December, Pantone — a company that provides graphic designers, printers, and others with a systematic way to identify and label color tones — named “Mimosa”  its 2009 color of the year. Mimosa is said  to exude optimism, hope and reassurance.


'Tuscan Sun' Heliopsis (Proven Winners image)

You’ll be seeing it in interior decor, clothing, and yes, flower colors, according to speakers I heard at the Garden Visions conference in Wausau this weekend.  Among the new yellow flowers that will be on garden center shelves this year are plants like Supertunia ‘Citrus’ or ‘Sunray’ petunias, ‘Tuscan Sun’ heliopsis, and Calibrachoa Callie ‘Mango’.

I’ve always loved yellow and have included lots of yellow in my garden. It’s great to know there will be even more choices in the years to come.

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Image from product web site.

Image from product web site.

During our recent spell in the deep freeze, I’ve been spending the evening going through garden catalogs, ripping out pages of the seeds and tools I might order. Garden catalogs are very enticing, but also great fun–especially the names of the plants and products. Gardeners seem to have a taste for the corny and the punnish, all of which is good for a chuckle on a frigid evening.  Here are a few of my favorites:



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Espaliered apples at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

It took me years to figure out that DIY meant Do-It-Yourself, but the acronym I’ve been hearing and seeing for 2009 is GIY — Grow It Yourself.  This was the No. 2 garden trend for 2009 identified by Garden Media Group, a market research company that tracks trends for the industry every year. (The No. 1 trend for 2009 is — you guessed it — eco-everything.) Grow-it-Yourself means that more people are doing their own gardening (as opposed to hiring a landscaper for the job). It also means that more people, particularly young ones, are interested in growing their own food.

Here’s the most startling statistic I saw in the trends presentation: Seeds sales went up dramatically in 2008. Burpee, the mega seed-seller, saw a 37 percent increase in sales between 2007 and 2008, brought on by what the company’s CEO describes as a “perfect storm” of bad economic news, concerns about food safety, and a desire to live more ecologically. This is a global trend, too. In New Zealand, where it is spring (sigh…), nurseries are reporting seed sales up by 25 percent overall and seed potato sales double from the previous year. Sales of plant starts are up 300 percent!

This is all good, as is the No. 7 trend on the trends report: Info Lust! New gardeners are eager for solid information on how to take care of the gardens they’ve planted. They are hungry for information and inspiration. They are taking classes, reading garden magazines, and — ah-hem, checking out garden blogs.  In gardening, information is power; the more you know, the more you’ll be able to grow. But those would-be gardeners who do not have a lot of time to satisfy their info lust should also know that seeds and plants are generally forgiving. A little dirt, a little water, a little sun — that’s all it really takes to grow at least some things yourself.

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Who knew my Mom was so cutting edge? In Florida this winter, she showed me her containers, a trio of nice-looking decorative pots, each with a single Sunpatiens impatiens in it. “I’m not putting all kinds of plants in my pots anymore,” she said. “I just put one in there and it looks good.”

Right on, Mom. According to Ed Lyons, the director of the Allen Centennial Gardens at the University of Wisconsin and a frequent author and lecturer, one-plant pots are among the latest garden trends. One reason is containers themselves have become more interesting: high-gloss glazes, bright colors, fun shapes. Using fewer plants per container also allows for more design flexibility. If a plant peters out or doesn’t like the sun in one location, just move it. Re-arrange a big group of pots for different looks. Lyons noted that designers also are using more containers in garden designs.

Since he was addressing a group of plant fanatics at the Midwest Regional Master Gardener Conference in Milwaukee, Lyon also noted which plants are hot now. Here are the top four on-trend plants he sees:

  • Succullents–any and everything, and if you’ve got a spot in the basement and grow them in pots, you can overwinter them successfully;
  • Heucheras–Lyons likes the Heuchera x villosas , which come in colors like ‘Caramel’, ‘Citronelle’ and ‘Brownie’. Be careful: not all Heucheras have been trialed thoroughly in northern climates.
  • Echinaceas–There are dozens of new coneflowers coming on the market. Not everyone will like all the new varieties (personally, I hate the ones with the puffballs in the center), but there is something new for almost every taste. An article I read in Horticulture magazine recently said the new coneflowers may cross pollinate with each other or the old ones, resulting in a variety of colors in your garden. That sounds cool.
  • Baptisia–According to Lyon, this is the next new hot plant with lots of cultivars coming. Start watching for it in plant catalogs and garden magazines. He likes a cultivar called ‘Purple Smoke’.

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While gardening is often viewed as a classic, homespun activity, it is as shaped by trends and fashions just as much as clothing, home decor, or music. Ed Lyon, director of the Allen Centennial Gardens at the University of Wisconsin and a frequent garden lecturer and author, helped Master Gardeners pick through demographic data and trends during Friday’s Midwest Regional Master Gardener Conference.

He noted two big trends: Baby Boomers are getting old and the generations behind them are not as tuned into gardening as a hobby, at least not if it involves much work. These folks, the oldest of whom are in their mid-40s, are financially burdened with big houses and mortgages and want low to no-maintenance gardens because they work all the time, and in their off-hours they go to kids’ soccer games. They want gardens that are great for hosting BBQs, but don’t require much weeding or pruning. The gardens these busy people prefer often look more like a patio with yard attached, boasting several thousand dollars worth of furniture and an extremely cool pot with a single tropical plant in it.

The second big trend, which seems paradoxical in some ways, is that the so-called Generations X and Y are very concerned about health and food, which is leading to an increased interest in growing vegetables. Will this translate into more vegetable gardens or just more shoppers at Farmers’ Markets? Either one is a good trend in my book.

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