2014 garden trends


gardenmay17Gardeners have known for centuries that their pastime has a calming and -- forgive the pun -- grounding effect. Now, science confi rms what we already know on a subliminal level.

Researchers have reported in the journal Neuroscience that contact with a bacteria in soil triggers the release of serotonin in our brains, which improves mood and learning. We’re naturally wired to want more time in the garden – to “play” in the dirt – and to bring plants inside our homes and offices to reduce stress and anxiety. The biggest trends in gardening for 2014 involve the evolution of our outdoor spaces as we spend more of our leisure time outdoors, and bring more live plants indoors.

According to Jamie Harrison of The Greenery on Hilton Head Island, consumers are spending more leisure time outdoors and are decorating their gardens and outdoor spaces to make them more intimate for entertaining. The rise of social trends, like lawn games, grilling, and garden parties, are fueling record sales of garden furniture and accessories.

“This year, like the last three, you will continue to see more sensory- driven items such as tabletop fountains, garden art, decorative planters, and candles,” Harrison said. “We are moving in the direction of durable and comfortable outdoor furniture, benches, torches, and fire pits… all of which create a sense of comfort and enhance the quality of lives. Customers want their outdoor spaces to be as inviting as their inside ones. Their new outdoor spaces provide escape from our technologically intense world.”

Although digging in the dirt provides a respite from technology, you’ll see more of it applied to the art of gardening, which is another big gardening trend for 2014. Gardening apps for your portable devices will proliferate like kudzu. Electronic field guides such as Leafsnap and NatureGate can identify plants on the fly. Or, just snap a plant’s photo with Google Goggles, and submit it instantly for identification and plant information. The trend, especially for younger gardeners, is to seek more information about plants and projects before they ever break ground. They seek advice from friends on social media, their neighbors, and experienced professionals at independent garden centers. They’re part of a growing trend among consumers to purchase plants from local resources instead of mega retailers. Container gardening continues to be big this year, according to Carol Guedalia, horticulturist at The Greenery.

“Containers have always been a big seller for us,” Guedalia said. “Along with helping DIY customers pick the appropriate plants for their containers, there’s a big demand for pre-planted containers and custom creations … both of which you will see in abundance at our garden center. Traditional containers will be big again, but this year you will see a few new trends, such as incorporating heirloom veggies and more wildfl ower and native plant mixes. Unique shapes, unusual plant mixes, and wild color combinations are going to be hot this year. Monochromatic plant groupings will also make a splash.”

Guedalia adds that you will see a growing trend of incorporating edible plants and shrubs. Compact versions of some of the most popular berries are great for containers or accent plants, and can be combined with other container-grown veggies and herbs. Look for compact varieties of a number of different blueberries, citrus, and raspberries. Foodies will be growing superfoods from quinoa to kale, and using them in smoothies and salads. All of these great plants ideal for large gardens or more small urban garden containers, which help defi ne areas of your landscape into intimate spaces for entertaining and relaxing.

Big this year will be the availability of more drought-tolerant plants and sustainable gardening techniques and tools. Many gardeners will use food scraps for fertilizer and plant native, pollen-rich flowers to attract bees and butterflies. For your best results in any garden or landscape project this year, be sure to purchase from a knowledgeable vendor, who knows what plants will survive and thrive in this area. Jamie Harrison of The Greenery also says, “One trend that we are really excited about is a renewed focus on indoor plants. We love that science has confirmed something we already know - bringing plants into your home or offi ce helps increase creativity and productivity. Designers are really filling indoor space with great foliage.”

Finally, more people will spend more time outdoors than in recent years. You don’t even have to lift a finger to be a part of the biggest garden trend of the year. Enjoy more time outdoors and play in the dirt!