Originally Published: February 17, 2007 4 a.m.
As a garden center owner, I long ago abandoned the concept that I operate a retail store that only sells plants. It's a design center that keeps up to date on each year's colors and gardening trends, and let me tell you the trends are changing fast.
I belong to several national garden center groups that help me keep a competitive edge when it comes to landscape styles and designs. The following update of the ever-changing gardening world is a combination of info from Susan McCoy, one of my advisors at Garden Media Group, blended with my take of trends in the local area.
Outdoor Living. This is the third season this trend continues, and it seems to be stronger every year. We are entertaining in our outdoor living rooms, cooking in our outdoor kitchens, entertaining with outdoor TVs and stereos; and our garden designs are affected by the impact of all these activities. Indoor living is out.
Escape Gardens. Thanks to advances in plant breeding, flowers and shrubs not typically inclined to grow here in Prescott are thriving. Bahama Bay hibiscus, tropicana canna, kong coleus all contribute to the tropical feeling of a Caribbean island, which really is an escape from our high mountain environment. Everyday gardens are out.
Streamlined Gardens. This year, taking the place of the cottage garden style, you will see big bold flowers and foliage and sleek, glazed containers that bring a more sophisticated modern look to our landscapes; also, it's a far cry from the rock lawn with a few conifers of old Prescott. Shabby chic gardens are out.
Eco-Chic Gardens. Organic deer and javalina repellents and biodegradable glazed containers will all be seen at the garden center this year. Disease-resistant plants like the Knock Out rose are easy to care for without environment-damaging chemicals. Chemical needy gardens are out.
Small Space Gardens. The ease of gardening in small spaces and mini-beds is drawing increased numbers of followers. You will see an expanded selection of dwarf-sized annuals, perennials and shrubs specifically bred for small spaces and containers. Colossal gardens are out.
Larger than Life Accents. Even in smaller gardens, accent pieces are proof that bigger is better this year. Large fountains, extra-large perennials, and gigantic-sized hanging baskets and pots will all be finding places in our gardens. Peak-a-boo accessories are out.
Foliage in Focus. Recognition is being given to great foliage plants that look as good without flowers as they do when in bloom. Look for a bolder hand in displays of elephant ear, ornamental grasses and iresine, aka bloodleaf. Flowers only are out.
Multitasking Gardens. Combining edible herbs and vegetables into the landscape is more popular than ever. Red romaine lettuce is as great a pleasure to the eye as it is tasty in the salad bowl. Dwarf citrus trees are heat-loving patio tropicals that also work great as houseplants during the colder months. Time-consuming gardens are out.
Fancy Plants. Californians moving here have brought with them an exciting, positive gardening impact from plants uncommon to our mountain gardens. Among their numbers are avid orchid collectors and lovers of other exotic plants that are appearing in our local landscapes. Our new African violet club is the result of this west coast influence. Basic plants are out.
Designer Veggies. This trend is from living healthier lifestyles and growing our own vegetables. New tomato introductions include ball beefsteak and retro varieties like brandywine, which are anything but store-bought types. Store bought veggies are out.
Masses of Any Color. Mass plantings of evergreen shrubs are being replaced with hydrangeas, landscape roses and other flowering shrubs offering loads of color and interest for every season. Colorless masses are out.
24-Hour Gardens. Because our outdoor entertaining continues even after the sun goes down, our gardens are calling for those plants that look great at night. Happily, the popularity of these after-dark beauties has caused their selections to grow proportionately to the demand. Daytime only gardens are out.
That's the forecast from the experts, and that's exactly what you will find at with-it garden centers in 2007. As the calendar steadily pushes into spring, the inventory of new styles arriving daily this time of year makes for an enjoyable afternoon of "window shopping" and planning for this year's gardens.
Until next week, I'll see you in the garden center.