Key Trends for 2012

From Steve Whysall at The Vancouver Sun:


With more and more people living in less and less space, there is a greater need to make smart decisions about what to grow and how to grow it. Dwarf conifers are expected to make a big comeback for people who want an easy-care, structural plant that requires minimal watering.


It’s on the minds of many gardeners who will be searching for more drought-tolerant plants that aren’t water hogs, as well as innovative ways to collect and recycle water and monitor its use.


Black and amber, according to the Tesselaar group, will continue to be the hot colour trend in North America, with amber heucheras and Flower Carpet roses leading the way. The Garden Media Group sees colour trends being much more complex with rich gem colours catching a lot of attention as well as deep purples, soothing greens and striking shades of tropical colours.


Gardeners want more bang for their buck and are looking for plants that give more reward for less money. They want to invest in tried-and-true winners; plants that have a high disease resistance, long blooming period, and enduring structural and foliage interest. This trend goes hand in hand with a deepening respect for name-brand plants, such as Proven Winners.


According to Sharon Coates of Zaretsky and Associates – one of the biggest landscape firms in the U.S. – people are moving away from large ponds and toward smaller water features. “Now people prefer a cut piece of stone, a boulder or beautiful glazed urn with water bubbling out of the top. People either have to be really into ponds and all the maintenance they take or they have to hire someone to do it for them.”


Fountains and decorative features made of natural stone or metal are going to be hot sellers. Copper and other metals are becoming popular materials for garden statuary and other key decorative features.


Apparently, the back yard is slowly being replaced by more intense focus on front yards. Statistics show that people like their handiwork to be more visible, which in the U.S. has meant a steady increase in the number of front gardens over the last two years, according to Garden Trends Research Report’s spring 2011 survey.


This is partly linked to the smallspace gardening trend, as people look for more effective ways to grow plants in restricted spaces. It means more trellises, arbours, wall-gardens and climbing plants that flourish in small containers.


This trend was first spotted in a major way at the garden show at Chicago’s Navy Pier, where there was a wave of interest in ways to bring birds back into the garden, using everything from nesting boxes, bird baths, feeders and birdhouses. But this trend also connects up with the desire to add more plants to the garden that attract birds and butterflies as well as serve the needs of bees.


This is really an extension of the gardener’s basic mantra of “do no harm.” Where possible, gardeners want to put their money where it will do the most good, buying plants that support local gardening enterprises and products that spread the wealth. This is consistent with the 2010 Cone Survey that found 83 per cent of consumers want to see more brands, products and companies that support worthy causes.

You can contact Steve at [email protected].