In today’s world where news travels at the click of a mouse and technology changes at the speed of now, people are finding balance and purpose tapping into the power of plants and cultivating a “new good life,” according to the 2012 Garden Trends Report from Garden Media Group.
Recent garden trends unveiled at the FloraHolland Trade Fair focused upon the benefits of plants as the 3 Vs: Vital, Vogue and Voyage. Plants are necessary for health (vital); for their versatility and ability to elicit emotions (vogue); and for their cross cultural influence (voyage).
“Plants are no longer a luxury, but a necessity for our lives,” said Susan McCoy, trend spotter and outdoor living expert. “Plants can live without us, but we can’t live without plants.”
The power of plants. For a growing army of environmentally conscious members of Gen X and Y, it’s part of a new lifestyle that includes recycling, re-purposing and upcycling, and blending old with new, to preserve and protect the earth’s resources.
Dr. Charlie Hall, holder of the Ellison Chair at Texas A&M, said, “Gen Ys are embracing a connection with plants based on economics, environmental impact, health and wellness.”
These rural and urban curators of culture are planting home and community gardens and renewing urban spaces, with an eye toward functionality and artistic design.
Why nature? According to Harvard professor Edward O. Wilson, we have an innate bond with living things and nature called biophilia.
McCoy agrees.”Studies prove that plants are more than just a pretty face,” she said. “From the power of healing to restoring neighborhoods, plants are vital for healthy, balanced lives.”
Here’s a glimpse of what McCoy and her team of Garden Media trend spotters see on the horizon for 2012 and beyond.
Generation X and Y are taking up the mantle to protect and defend the earth. “These new ‘urban-knights’ are creating oases wherever they can find a patch of earth,” said McCoy. “They’re planting shrubs, flowers, edibles and pop-up gardens on balconies, in alleyways, and on street parklets – even in abandoned buildings and walk-in shipping containers.”
At this year’s Chelsea Flower Show in England the youth urban-grit influence was apparent. Commitment to the earth’s resources was punctuated in reclaimed materials mixed with windmill turbines, metal sheds, water-saving plants, and vertical walls that challenged formal gardens.
From raising chickens and goats to step gardening, harvesting rain water and composting, these urban knights are establishing a ‘new good life’ by getting grounded with the earth.
From rocks in the garden to rocks in the living room, nature’s influence can be found both indoors and out.
“Borders are blurring between indoors and out as nature becomes more important in our lives,” said Bobbie Schwartz, FAPLD, and president of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers, www.apld.org. “Many people want their gardens and their homes to be sanctuaries of tranquility, reflecting their ideal concept of nature.”
Beauty and sustainability are key. Gardeners want easy, low maintenance plants like the new Bloomtastic! dwarf butterfly bush series from Hines Growers (www.hineshort.com).
People are “occupying” local farmers markets and joining CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) groups for fresh produce, plants and products.
“Farmers markets are our new backyard veggie gardens,” said McCoy, “and are becoming our local grocery store.”
According to the U.S. Dept of Agriculture, sales of “locally produced food” reached $4.8 billion in 2008.They project that locally grown foods will generate $7 billion in sales dominated by fruit and veggies this year.
According to the 2010 Cone Survey, 83 percent of consumers still want to see more brands, products, and companies that support worthy causes.
“We’ve finally moved from ‘me’ to ‘we’ and consider our earth and each other when we purchase,” said McCoy.
Examples of this trend abound in the green industry, including Costa Farms’ “Plant for the Cure” to American Beauties Native Plants (www.abnativeplants.com) partnership with the National Wildlife Federation.
“There is no single issue greater than water,” said Hall. And, he added, Gen X & Y want gardening to be simple with easy, low-maintenance plants that require less water and are “earth kind.”
Recent drought and regional water restrictions are forcing people to seek out ways to grow plants, flowers and vegetables with less water.
One method becoming increasingly popular is hydroponic gardening. You can grow plants year-round in nutrient rich water that actually uses less water.
In living color
Neon colors, pop art and color blocking are influencing fashion on the runways to fashion in the garden.
Rich, gem colors create a personal piece of paradise for gardeners. Costa Farms is responding to this trend with its Tropic Escape Hibiscus line. And Hines is getting in the game with its Bloomtastic! Bambino Bougainvillea and Patio Tropics multi-colored bougainvillea grafted patio trees.
The inner garden
“If you don’t have your health you don’t have anything” is an old slogan with a 21st century upgrade.
Trend watching says our pursuit of health and quality of life is the number one influence on the goods and services we choose. That said, decorating our “inner gardens” with houseplants for better, healthier lives is catching fire.
“Houseplants are a modern interior decorating niche and absolutely necessary for wellness,” said McCoy. “These natural oxygen machines clean indoor air and bring life to any room with color and texture.”
And for those who want a fashionable alternative to just another picture on the wall, vertical green walls are a practical and artistic expression. “Green walls as living art make a wonderful conversation piece as plant designs go vertical, horizontal and circular,” said McCoy. “They freshen and change the atmosphere in any space.”
With the rise of smartphone technology, QR-codes, apps and Groupon, living social is bringing power to the people and consumers into the buying experience. One example: Costa Farm’s GrowingStyle digital e-zines, offering designer tips and plant info in a free app.
“From conspicuous consumption of the nineties to today’s savvy shoppers, it’s easy for consumers to get in on everything from flash sales to secret finds,” said McCoy.
According to TrendWatching, ‘dealer chic’ is on the rise where securing the best deal is both accepted and admired.
From the White House to the neighborhood schools, kids are discovering firsthand how to grow their own food and take care of the planet.
McCoy said we’ve ignored two generations of gardeners and need to get kids back to having fun growing things. She said the popularity of fairy gardens, which has more than doubled since last year, is ideal for kids and the young at heart to share the whimsical world of plants and appreciate the joy of gardening.
For a complete look at the GMG 2012 Garden Trends, visit: www.gardenmediagroup.com.