Staff April 5, 2017
2017 gardening trends
Photos: iStock | pidjoe | Antagain | marilyna

From color-changing conifers to smaller-sized luxury looks, gardens wow with diverse palettes, global influences and extreme naturalism in the new year.

Luxury garden elements that come in smaller packages, “floratourism” and the no-waste food movement’s influence on the garden are all top gardening trends for 2017, reflecting a yin-yang sort of year in the gardening world, according to Monrovia.

“2017 will be a year of surprising contradictions,” says Jonathan Pedersen, Plant Development Director at Monrovia. “Humble backyard edible gardens and no-fuss plants have never been so popular. At the same time, there’s an increased level of sophistication in landscape design and a rising interest in unique plants with an emphasis on rich, saturated color and a sense of luxury.”

Pedersen continues, “This year’s trends are also breaking out of the garden, in a way. Globally, ‘floratourism’ is at an all-time high as travelers seek a respite in a stressful world. We’re also seeing the issues of food security and climate change impact what and how home gardeners garden.”

The top nine trends for 2017 are:

1. Smaller-sized luxury

As lot sizes shrink but the desire for the luxurious, traditional estate look grows, gardeners will snap up, in record numbers, a slew of new-to-the-market, improved, scaled-down versions of iconic plants such as hydrangeas, roses, berries, conifers and clematis. These easy-care plants are part of a larger “back to basics with a twist” trend we see unfolding.

2. Floratourism

New York’s High Line is just the tip of the iceberg. Millennials may have grown up tethered to technology, but as a generation, they’re reversing a decade-long trend by choosing nature as their recreational playground. Look for more record-shattering attendance figures at national parks, botanical gardens and arboretums worldwide.

3. Backyard gardening influenced by “no waste” food movement

With about one in three households now growing food, home gardeners, always on the leading edge of mindfulness, are poised to be a critical part of the solution to the urgent social and environmental issues of food waste, and the associated impacts on food security, food transport miles, wasted water and depletion of arable land.

4. Color chameleons

Gardeners are seeking more seasonal change in their landscape, even from plants previously prized for consistent year-round beauty. Conifers that morph from shades of summery green to a rainbow of otherworldly hues in winter are leading the charge, selling out of nurseries nationwide. Expect to see a revival in the use of fuss-free conifers in general, and a boost in those that color-up for unexpected winter interest.

5. Extreme naturalism

In past years, gardeners have either embraced meadow-filled, freeform, wild gardens or, alternately, landscapes dominated by hard textures and right angles. In 2017, expect to see “extreme naturalism” with gardens that merge these aesthetics by introducing statement- making natural elements such as rocks, boulders and beautifully untouched hedges that impose a more integrated sense of structure.

6. Climate adaptation

Interest in the possible effects of climate change on our landscapes has accelerated, rapidly leading to a surge on a national rather than regional level in consumer demand for beautiful landscapes that also save water. Look for ramping-up of rainwater and greywater harvesting systems and more efficient irrigation. And, plant selection will begin to change as predicting success within a USDA zone is no longer as easy to forecast. While it’s too soon to make any conclusions about whether plant genetic composition may change in response to the selection pressure of climate change, for sure, something’s up.

7. Bright, bold colors

Even as more consumers look to their gardens for a respite from a stressful world, they’re turning to celebratory color for the sense of vitality it brings, which is a major change from the popularity of last year’s tranquil pinks and blues. While serene hues are not going anywhere, we see a pivot toward more saturated colors such as brilliant oranges, feverish reds, neon yellows, vivid purples, deep, dark reds, black-purples and lots of bicolored versions.

8. One-pot wonders

Large pots filled with a single impressive statement plant are also on trend for 2017. Plant breeders have made this aesthetic easier to achieve thanks to boxwood that don’t require as much shearing, a number of reblooming, compact hydrangeas that only need nipping off of spent blossoms, and new varieties of pomegranates, lavenders, succulents and berries that do exceptionally well in containers.

9. Tough and tender mixes

Talk about a return to old-school romance! In 2017, we’ll see gardeners who spent the last decade loading up on “easy care,” bullet-proof plants making room for more delicate specimens that imbue the space with heirloom charm, color and fragrance. Keep an eye out for some perennial icing on shrub borders and more interest in Itoh peonies and wisteria even though they take work to maintain, have a short period of bloom, and can be pricey. Even in places like California, where natives and Xeriscaping are buzzy, people are finding ways to slip in a few of these beauties, if only in a pot or two.

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