Trends, Winter 2008
They look like hedges on Popsicle sticks. They are the ideal solution to the space problem faced by gardeners who want to divide up their gardens into rooms, or find a brand new sense of privacy in an intense urban setting. These are trees such as beech and linden, trained on wooden horizontal support structures and woven so they will grow one into another. The lower part of the trees are kept bare so the growth creates a stronger trunk. It requires annual pruning and is stunning. They also mean you can do lots more planting beneath as well.
In these parlous times, any gizmo that will save or re-direct water has become a trend. People are genuinely concerned so the sales of water butts and rain chains have skyrocketed. The designs are improving with greater demand. At various plant shows we attended this year, rain chain designs are becoming especially dishy from temple bell types, to individual animal shapes in copper. The Ontario Horticultural Association has a nifty handbook with everything you need to know in it.
The hottest new acronym is GIY (Grow it Yourself). And the hottest spot to do so is the front yard. People across the country are joining forces. Take City Harvest of Victoria. Founders Paula Sobie and Martin Scaia have gathered half an acre of ?farmland? spread across 17 backyards from an original 9,000 sq feet of front lawn in their first year. SPIN (Small Plot Intensive) is spreading across the country. Go to SPIN?s web site for how to do it (and even learn how to make money).
Lemon yellow blooms. Yes, we all want a little sunlight in the garden, but never before have we had such refreshing tones of yellow. Not murky golds, not anything orangey (with a serious hit of red) but pure clear tones of lemon-yellow which will combine with any colour in the whole of nature?s palette. The Statement-Making Dress is yellow this year, and we all know that where fashion goes, so goes the garden.
Bubblers are the talk of the party circuit:? it?s a guy thing. Getting a gorgeous rock (the search alone is fun), renting a piece of equipment and drilling a hole through it and then allowing a bubbler pump run water over its surface. Rough stone or highly polished granite, doesn?t matter for these wonderful sculptural objets. It just has to look gorgeous. And it?s useful too since every garden needs a bit of sound and this is one of the least expensive ways of doing it.
Making your garden friendly for pollinators: we finally understand that pollinators aren?t to be terrified of, in fact, our survival depends on them. So we?re catering to the more than 200,000 species of animals that act as pollinators (and it?s not just all those busy bees, moths, flies, wasps and butterflies) so essential to our health as well as to our gardens. As magnets, native plants work best, but so do many cultivars as long as they have simple forms and bright colours and a nectary. Provide nesting sites (dry stems, wood blocks drill with different size holes), and leave a sunny bare patch for ground nesting bees if you want to join this forward movement.
The David Suzuki Foundation has two handbooks to help with pollinators.
Children?s Gardens (public and private) are being sought after because we know that kids who play in nature grow up to love nature. Some of our best designers have produced gorgeous gardens for them: Janet Rosenberg?s Franklin Garden on Toronto Island is a beacon of design and taste. She says ?With a figurehead that kids can relate to, it allows all the other things to follow and crosses over a barrier we?ve set up about nature: they can get messy, touch, feel, look and smell plants. We even add veg to our children?s garden. Anything to get the kids involved and this interaction works. Just about all of our meetings today are dominated by the term sustainability. This is one way to get children to be our next generation of gardeners.?
Garden offices. What might have once been a garage or even wasted space is now being turned not into a potting shed but an office. A place to find privacy and surf the net or write a novel. The great garden writer Russell Page said that in his ideal garden he would have his little office to escape from the world (Education of a Gardener). We agree.
It?s incredible how this plant has swept across the country gracing gardens from rooftops, to balconies to prairie gardens. It?s important to get the clumping (Fargesia spp) kinds so you don?t have them invade every corner of your garden. Good in containers, stunning around a pond, they need little care and offer a lot of really good value.