Top gardening trends for 2015 feature by Matthew Appleby, as seen in January 2015 in Amateur Gardening and Daily Telegraph
Bigger plants with longer-term impact are what most growers and garden centres are concentrating on. Thompson & Morgan’s Paul Hansord says in 2015 garden centre customers will be looking for bigger plants ”so they don’t have to do so much work”. This all ties in with the upsurge in sales of big (3 litre plus) planted containers and instant colour and the decline in sales of pack bedding, which is seen as hard work in the garden.
Climate change means too much sun for the kids. Fears of skin cancer are greater Down Under, meaning shade sails are almost obligatory in parks and gardens. The sails former useful shelters from rain too, so may prove to be multi-use in the UK, where they are becoming increasingly popular.
Grow for taste.
The ubiquitous James Wong’s Grow for Flavour book is published in March 2015. Sutton’s is launching a James Wong plant range including cucumelon, inca berry and indigo rose in 2015.
Making gardens simple.
The Horticultural Trades Association is running a marketing campaign called Love the Plot You’ve Got, aiming to demystify gardening. Two container trucks will travel round the UK showing gardeners how to transform their plots cheaply and easily, featuring portable plants, aiming to be doable even if the reluctant gardener lives in rented homes.
In the US, several states have legalised cannabis. In the UK, there is pressure from the Greens and pressure groups to make ‘weed’ legal. Global warming means you could grow dope in your back yard. US gardening books charts are filled with marijuana and mushroom guides. The UK is still hung up on how to grow unusual veg at unusual times of the year. No wonder no-one buys UK gardening books anymore. Go figure, as the Yanks would say. Spacey man, Far out. Zzz.
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Yotam Ottolenghi have produced healthy eating books, after years of recession-induced dirty burger and comfort food trends. This marks the end of an era in which gardening fits in well – you can grow your own ultimate meat-free food (fruit and veg) to meet the meat-free fashion. Some 12 per cent of adults and 20 per cent of 16-24 year olds are now vegetarian says Mintel. The meat-free food market has grown from £543m in 2009 to a projected £657m in 2014. That Tom Parker Bowles has produced a book called Eating Meat probably proves that eating meat is out.
If you’re short of space, use the ceiling. For instance, from Boskke, there are ‘sky planter’ cubes that are taking off because they fill rare empty spaces in small flats. Also for those tight on space, mini plants in goldfish bowls – cacti, succulents and asparagus ferns, often in terrarium glass containers, are trending. And Squire’s Garden Centres is also launching a range of indoor mini gardens combining cacti, orchids and succulents arranged in wooden frames that are designed for hanging on the wall.
International garden expos.
Remember Gateshead, Liverpool and the other garden expos in the 1980s? Expos are attracting more interest in countries where the concept of green cities means more than in Europe, because so many people live in flats. Qingdao in China is an example, where 1.68m tickets were sold. Perhaps it’s time for the UK to take heed, with more flats without gardens being built. Brit garden designers are certainly cashing in on their fame by designing at shows such as Singapore and Melbourne, the Chelseas of the east.
They were big at Chelsea 2014. David Hedges-Gower wants to be TV’s lawn guru and has written a book called Modern Lawn Care on the subject. It’s time to stop the wave of artificial grass and go back to greener, cooler, more versatile real grass.
Planting by colour.
Garden centres are increasingly selling plants by theme or colour, rather than by their name, laid out from A-Z. Themes could be shade-loving or suitable for dry gardens. Colour themes are more and more linked to fashion trends too.
Gardening by demographics.
Retailers are now marketing plants and products by looking at how rich the typical punter local to them is. Waitrose, Next Home & Garden and Blue Diamond are leaders at this. The AB1 gardening customer is better catered for these days as these savvy retailers develop their high-end horticulture offers and open new outlets.
Using your smart phone to check prices of products you like the look of in garden centres and then buying it online.
Plants: Sunflower, echeveria, hydrangea, nasturtiums and fuchsias. Some retro chic here and some promotion-led ideas.
Anniversaries include the Magna Carta (1215), Agincourt (1415), the Battle of Waterloo (1815) and the Women’s Institute (1915). Expect to see everything from show gardens to school gardens commemorating these.
More blow up Halloween and Christmas inflatables, and outdoor lights/signs etc for these events in people’s garden/stuck to their houses.
In 2014, poppies were the on-trend flower, because of the centenary of the start of the Great War. In 2015, it’s sunflowers – but no-one really knows why. Fleuroselect, the international Organisation for the Ornamental Plants Industry, decided its first annual marketing campaign to get behind a single plant should be for the sunflower – so that’s what’s going to happen.
Portable gardening. Pots and urban jungles. More people are living in homes without gardens -1.5 million fewer people than in 2007. More people are renting too – home ownership in London for instance is down from 61 per cent to 43 per cent in six years – , so are reluctant to maintain the landlord’s garden. Around the country the end of the recession means house-building is taking off, but postage stamp-sized gardens (or half tennis court-sized more accurately) are the norm. This means the only gardening options are planting in small spaces, planting in pots and gardening indoors. So, high impact big planted containers, hanging baskets and, indoors, hanging garden ‘sky planters’ and terrariums filled with cacti and asparagus ferns are in. Bedding takes up space and takes effort, so there’s less pack bedding being sold year-on-year.
Grow your own as a trend peaked years ago, but around the edges little plant breeding developments are always going on. Sweet potatoes are now more widely available as plug plants from garden centres and could be the next big thing in home grown veg for gardeners. Bonita, Evangeline and Murashi varieties are new. More interesting squash and pumpkins than butternuts will be on the market too.
Peat and pesticide use is up in 2014 and there’s no reason why that trend won’t carry on in 2015. Slug killer sales were at record levels, (up 50 per cent in 2014 according to industry analysts GfK) and that will carry over if the winter is mild and the pests over-winter, while peat use is up with six million cubic metres harvested in 2013 and 2014 after wet weather hit harvest in 2012, when just 1.5m cubic metres was dug up. New peaty composts from Bord na Mona and Thompson & Morgan were launched in 2014. A new square grow bag called the GroQube, from Sinclair, will be on the market in 2015, designed for deeper rooting tomatoes. It’s 50 per cent peat.
Different looking gardens at Chelsea Flower Show. There are signs people, including Crocus’ Peter Clay, are getting bored of drifts of grass. Crocus has built and grown for the best in show and a host of gold medal winners annually for 20 years. This year Crocus is building for Dan Pearson (Laurent Perrier garden) and Marcus Barnett (Daily Telegraph garden). Media campaigns to have more women designers at Chelsea. There’s been too few for too long, considering more than half of the UK’s garden designers (according to Society of Garden Design membership figures) are female. Most years only three or four (out of 15 or 16) make the show garden cut – and only one or two women’s gardens are on the ‘best’ side of the Chelsea show garden avenue in prime position.
Buy British. That old mantra is back, and is being pushed by the BBC and RHS, which wants to make the Chelsea floral marquee more media-friendly by grouping reluctant nurseries into ‘Best of British’ and ‘Floral Continents’ themed areas, which lend themselves to “stories and theatre”.
Informing gardeners. One grower told me people call the advice line to say their roses won’t grow. Turns out they’ve planted it upside down, with the roots sticking out of the soil. The Garden Industry Marketing Board (GIMB) says a lost post-Groundforce generation doesn’t know anything about gardening, so they need to be sold garden leisure products and outdoor lifestyle ideas rather than plants, which they will probably kill. GIMB will be touring city centres in a battle bus showing simple examples of easy-to-make leisure gardens.
I expect to see more gardens closing in bad weather. The follows the Kew cedar death court case of 2014, when Erena Wilson was killed by a falling branch. The coroner found no fault with Kew, and dismissed suggestions from tree experts that ‘summer branch drop’ was to blame. But expect more signs, closures and cordoned off areas after gardens were given a wake-up call by the publicity surrounding the case.
Arise Sir Alan. A prediction. Retiring Kingfisher boss Sir Ian Cheshire has been appointed to the honours advisory board. Alan Titchmarsh used to front Kingfisher-owned B&Q’s gardening campaigns.
Kew is following up its recent ‘drugs’ exhibition (actually intoxicating plants) with a spice show that could lead to spice growing, er, growing.
Lights. Garden centres now sell shed loads of solar lights. The trend this winter is LED pictures of snowy wintry scenes.
Remember meerkats? Lifesize realistic statues of the rodents still sell well for those who like to decorate their gardens with the creatures, rather than the traditional gnome, which is now so completely out of fashion it is only bought by ironic east London hipster types. New for 2015 are wild British birds from Vivid Arts – lifesize and bigger for garden display. Watch out for ospreys hanging out of your neighbours trees.
Amateurs – The RHS and BBC TV are holding a competition for an amateur to design a Chelsea Flower Show garden. More garden features about standard back yards rather than remarkable gardens that you can visit.
Plants: Hydrangea. New breeding is leading the category, as seen at Chelsea with the plant of the year Miss Saori, which was a bit blousy for some. That was a Japanese-bred Dutch-grown variety. But UK growers are using biomass boilers, which attract Government subsidies, to grow their own. Deep Purple is another that will be high profile in 2015. Echeveria was a relatively little-known genus outside the cactus and succulent collectors’ world, but has undergone a renaissance and have now hit the mainstream. Echeverias are frost tender evergreen, rosette shaped succulents which are found in an enormous range of striking colours, with the leaves ranging from pastel to purple. Old fashioned blooms such as carnations are heading for a comeback, driven by the revival in homegrown cut flower growing. Nasturtiums and fuchsias are back too.
Hedging. A boring part of the garden that grower Hillier wants to reinvigorate. Why have a fence when you can have a hedge, ask Hillier MD Andy McIndoe? Fences blew down in their thousands in winter 2014. Amongst their other attributes, hedges don’t usually blow down.