As all of the din, excitement and exhaustion from Christmas winds down (though technically there are still several of the 12 days of Christmas left to go), we turn our attention to the next year.
As the old Welsh Christmas/Yule/New Year carol exclaims, “fast away the old year passes … hail the new, ye lads and lasses!”
Of course, the end of the year means that everyone and their uncle puts together a list of the best/worst/funniest things of the past year and shares it on TV, online or through social media. The gardening world is no different, but there’s one list in particular that looks ahead to gardening in the next year.
The Garden Media Group is a consulting and public relations firm for the home and garden industry. Every year, they compile a list of what they think is going to be “big” in the next gardening year based on current trends. Are they right? Usually.
While some of the trends are a little on the “fluffy” and “frou-frou” side of gardening, several of them can really tell us about the role of gardening in society and our lives. As is customary, I’ll pick a few of the trends from this year’s list, titled “Unearthing the Best Life,” and expand on them in the coming weeks.
A quick rundown of trends for 2015:
The new consumers
The population demographic of the US is shifting rapidly. At 25 percent of the population, millennials now outnumber baby boomers. Due to many factors, including food safety, this generation is more likely to grow their own fruits and vegetables.
Statistics show that young men in the millennial category spend around $100 more than the average gardener per year on gardening supplies (last year we found out it was to grow ingredients for booze, to entertain, and produce ridiculously hot peppers).
Hispanics are the largest and fastest-growing minority in the country. Many cultures in the Hispanic community garden more than average to grow food for themselves, family, and friends.
With these two population trends, it is no wonder that the sale of vegetable and fruit plants was higher than ornamental plants for the first time in 2013. A trend that is likely to continue, and is actually a bit of good news for the future.
Well-being from the outside in
Not only are gardeners growing more food than ever before to positively benefit their health, they are gardening more and more for the benefit of their neighbors and for the planet. This trend shows that people are adopting a consciousness not only for themselves, but for others when they make gardening decisions.
This includes adopting organic gardening practices, purchasing eco-friendly garden products, feeding the birds, and growing plants for pollinators.
It seems that gardeners are starting to make bolder color choices than in past years, perhaps following the trend from fashion of bolder color choices. These colors can show up everywhere from the plants themselves, to pots and containers and garden décor. Splashes of pink and teal, or rustic tones are expected to be popular.
Speaking of color, the Pantone institute has declared that a burgundy color called “marsala” will be the color of the year for 2015. It is a “naturally robust and earthy wine red,” which fits in the rustic category.
More and more, gardeners are developing areas of their outdoor spaces for entertaining. From outdoor rooms with furniture and even televisions to outdoor kitchens with fancy grills, stoves, and fridges, outdoor living is becoming more popular.
Outdoor living spaces also become more important as the size of new houses shrink.
Small-scale gardening is big (pun intended). From small containers to small, easy-care plants, busier schedules and smaller living spaces have gardeners cutting down. Small containers of easy plants like cacti and succulents are very popular these days.
Combine the shrinking size of houses and the growing number of people preferring to rent rather than buy, and you can see why portable gardening is on the rise. It’s not just your grandma’s container garden, either.
We’re talking growing systems on wheels, mini hydroponic systems, indoor growing systems and more. You can even get a mini aquaponics system that combines a fish tank and growing system for small plants.
Farming is not just for the rural or for those with hundreds of acres. The big future of agriculture is urban — from peri-urban farms to backyard flocks and herds. Some cities embrace agriculture, as it is a progressive policy that encourages younger folks to move in (see trend #1).
Big cities like New York, Los Angeles and Detroit have long embraced agriculture. Charleston has also seen the benefit of allowing (and encouraging) agriculture within its limits. In places that don’t have ordinances allowing agriculture, many people are balking at the rules.
There’s a movement afoot rebelling against towns, cities, and homeowner associations (which can have very regressive rules on agriculture and gardening) and many hoping to turn their neighborhood into the next agri-hood.
It seems that when folks do take the time to landscape, the big trend is not to keep everything neat and trimmed, but allow a little bed head to take shape. Meadow-like beds, native plants, water-wise plants and wildlife/pollinator plantings are taking precedence over shaped shrubs and well-behaved plantings.
Smoke your garden
While it’s a big topic in many other places where recreational and medicinal marijuana are legal, it’s not so much here (we’ll nobody’s advertising it, anyway). Let’s just say that for folks here in West Virginia, this garden trend just goes up in smoke.