As we enter the new year, I’d like to share with you some landscape trends to help you plan for the 2017 growing season.
Many of these ideas are courtesy of Dr. Allan Armitage. Many of you are familiar with Dr. A, as he is known to his students. He’s a retired horticulture professor from the University of Georgia. In his retirement, he’s a writer, lecturer and plantsman. He was in Canandaigua last fall to headline an event at Sonnenberg Gardens. The night before, he spoke at Finger Lakes Community College on “What’s Hot, What’s Not and What’s Upcoming.”
Living spaces are changing, he explained. Although we haven’t seen much of this in suburban Rochester, we have seen it in the city where many buildings are being converted to lofts and apartments. As a result, those who embrace this lifestyle may have no more than a balcony or windowsill for plants. Even in suburbia, some are opting for smaller homes on smaller lots, and even townhouses, for the sake of easier maintenance.
This downsizing has resulted in a growing (no pun intended) interest in containers. While the artisans and production facilities that make containers are booming, so are the nurseries and greenhouses that breed plants for containers. Dr. A mentioned one whimsical new offering called Grafted Ketchup & Fries™. It’s a cherry tomato plant grafted to a potato root stock. It actually yields tomatoes above ground and potatoes below. Go ahead, look it up on the internet. It’s there.
Dr. A went on to say that we’ve become a society of decorators rather than gardeners. We know how we want our landscapes to look but would rather hire professionals to make it happen. A few years ago, this was a fad. Today it’s a trend. Dr. A noted that a fad becomes a trend which then becomes the norm.
As we add to our present landscapes, animal resistance is foremost on peoples’ minds, especially deer resistance. Dr. A said that some garden stores are actually selling deer resistant plants with special, yellow tags identifying them as such.
While water shortages aren’t typically a concern in our region, last summer has started property owners thinking about drought resistant plants and converting all or some of their lawns to groundcover.
Foodscaping is emerging from the fad stage to the trend stage, too. More and more people want to grow their own food but lack the space when they downsize. The popular answer today, Dr. A said, is to plant fruits and veggies as landscape plants, sometimes integrating them with ornamental plants.
Eco-awareness continues to be a concern. How can we assure the survival of pollinators like bees and butterflies? Will wildlife that depends on a specific species of native plant also feed on nativars? Nativars are cultivars of native plants. Dr. A’s answer to that question was that there has been no scientific indication that they will not.
Rochester is well known for its conservative approach to trends. We aren’t expecting any major changes in our customers’ landscape styles but we are prepared. If you want to become a trendsetter, we’re ready to help you make that move.
I like Dr. A’s idea to plant fruits and veggies as landscape plants. I’m really interested in having both a garden for food and a landscape that looks gorgeous. Since my landscape is small, planning it is tricky—I’ll probably ask a landscape designer to help me out.