10 gardening trends set to blossom in 2018
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These are the themes and plants predicted to dominate in the coming 12 months, writes Hannah Stephenson.
‘Mindful gardening’ promises to continue to grow, as more and more Brits turn to tending their allotments, herbaceous borders and houseplants as a way of boosting mental health and wellbeing, while cacti and succulents look set to adorn all the coolest shelves and windowsills (and Instagram feeds) - and wood decking is coming back in fashion.
Some of these horticultural trends were highlighted by winners at the recent Garden Media Guild Awards, and according to those in the know, we’ll soon see them cropping up more and more in homes and gardens across the country.
Here, garden designers, writers and retailers predict 10 of the growing trends in gardens in 2018...
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Mindfulness - the ancient Buddhist tradition of immersing yourself in the present moment - is set to have a strong influence over how we design and appreciate our gardens in 2018.
Gardeners may focus on incorporating elements which stimulate the senses, like accents of calming blues and energising yellows, pots of strongly-scented therapeutic lavender and a water feature to create a relaxing ambience.
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2. Low-maintenance gardening
Young designers are also predicting the move towards low-maintenance gardening is set to continue.
Joe Perkins, one of six designers who will be displaying show gardens at the first ever Ascot Spring Garden Show in April, says: “Conifers are coming back into fashion now, which are low-maintenance and provide structure throughout the year.”
3. Arid planting
“Arid planting, using specimens like yuccas and tropical houseplants in greenhouses, is also very much of the moment. Gardens are always the first to react to environmental concerns, so for a lot of people, if they can plant something that won’t require a lot of water, they will see that as a bonus for practical reasons as well,” says Joe.
“You can get plenty of colour with dry planting. You can go for strong colours such as orange geums, which are easy, you can let them go and they will flower for a long time. Arid planting doesn’t have to mean all cacti and desert.”
4. Japanese art of wabi-sabi
The Japanese art of wabi-sabi - an acceptance of the natural cycle of growth, decay and death - is now catching on in the Western world, according to research by The Greenhouse People.
The key here is balancing nature and nurture, and allowing yourself to relax and reflect on the beauty of your garden’s natural imperfections. Overgrown perennials, moss-covered stones, rusty iron gates and weathered pots are suddenly bang on-trend.
5. Purple power
Colour experts Pantone have created a 2018 ‘Verdure’ palette to experiment with in the garden, featuring colours naturally found in lush vegetation and woodlands, including berry-infused purple, red wood, eggshell blue and foliage green. Gardeners may be creating accents of colour with clay pot and purple-coloured flowering herbs like lavender, rosemary and Thai basil.
6. Indoor hanging planters
Not seen much since the Seventies, indoor hanging planters are also making a comeback as a quirky way of displaying houseplants.
Garden designer Kate Gould, who will also be creating a show garden at the Ascot show, reckons that as far as hard landscaping is concerned, there’s more of a push towards sleeker stone than old York stone, while decking, which fell out of favour for a while, is now coming back. “People thought of the blue painted wood and Ground Force, but a good hardwood deck is lovely, in the colour of wood!” she says.
8. Shrub show-stoppers
Continuing the low-maintenance theme, Kate adds: “Bring back the shrub. They are more low-maintenance, more permanent, certainly if you live in a garden in the city where you don’t want to change that much around; they are absolutely brilliant. They are the backbone of the garden that gives it its permanence and structure.”
Spring-flowering favourites include rhododendrons, pieris and camellias - all the acid lovers - as well as early flowering choisyas and lilacs.
Trees are also in big demand. “Talk to any designer and we are a big fan of multi-stem trees because they give you a lot of interest,” says Kate.
“Amelanchiers, parrotias or cercis are great, but If you’ve significant access issues with getting into properties, the single stemmed tree is always better.”
10. Cacti and succulents
Marcus Eyles, head of horticulture at Dobbies Garden Centres, predicts succulents and cacti will continue to increase in popularity, while tropical plants and living walls will provide colour and interest in more sheltered spaces.
Social media is going some way to driving trends, he points out, as people post more pictures of their plants to inspire others.
“Look at social media and it’s bringing people back to nature and arts and crafts and plants. Audiences can see something magical about growing plants and aspire to it.”