Dr. Leonard Perry, Horticulture Professor Emeritus
University of Vermont
Each year, the Garden Media Group (www.gardenmediagroup.com)-- a marketing firm for the home and garden industry—identifies key gardening trends for the coming season. For 2018 they’ve pegged seven of these, based around the overall theme of nature’s prescription for mental wellness.
An interesting and rather surprising fact this report begins with
is from the World Health Organization, which predicts by 2030 the
number one health issue will be anxiety, not obesity.
Already, the “wellness” industries (wellness tourism including
spas, for instance) have generated over $3.7 trillion in revenue,
and are predicted to grow over 17 percent during the next five
years. The most stressed demographic is Gen-Y, with 81
percent of 13 to 34 year olds looking to balance mental and
physical wellness. A recommendation: take time away from
phones to stop and smell the roses.
This wellness trend is not just about a healthy body, but also a
healthy mind—one focused on positivity, relaxation, and
self-care. Having plants around inside and out, especially
those that help purify air indoors, finding a quiet place to
meditate, and eating a plant-based diet are becoming priorities
for many. This is nothing new, relaxation gardens dating
back to Cyrus the Great of Persia over 2,500 years ago. What
is new is the research supporting these, such as studies showing
that being around water and in nature “shifts our brain towards
hope and compassion and away from stress and anger.”
So what are the specific trends this report highlights? The
first is Climate Controlled, or gardening in a changing
climate. Ways to do this they highlight are wind-resistant
gardens, desert gardens to withstand drought, rain gardens to
withstand flooding events, and freeze-proof gardens with hardy
Social Networks is the next trend, but doesn’t mean for humans
but rather thinking of our gardens as interconnected social
networks. Well-known author and landscape architect Thomas
Rainer says there will be a big shift in horticulture from
“thinking about plants as individuals to communities of
interrelated species.” This will change our gardening to “focus on
management, not maintenance.” One example of this is using
green, living plants to cover bare soil rather than mulch.
Imperfect Gardening is the third gardening trend for 2018.
Such gardens embrace Wabi-Sabi— “the ancient Japanese practice
that appreciates imperfections in life and the ability to age
gracefully. Wabi-sabi gardens imitate nature in a way that
allows you to relax and appreciate their humble and imperfect
forms—yes, even the weeds.” Now that is my kind of garden.
Also included in this trend is repurposing old or antique objects
into the garden, and using natural materials such as ceramic over
synthetic such as plastics. Using groundcovers instead of lawns in
some spaces, and allowing “natural” lawns to develop with clover
and dandelions is another part of this trend. Imperfect
gardening allows native plants, even some that are considered
“weeds”, to remain for pollinators and their larvae.
The Breathing Room trend means privacy, quiet, “turning off the
noise.” It also means incorporating more “clean air” plants into
interior environments to promote better well-being, as well as
removing some indoor volatile organic compounds such as benzene,
formaldehyde, and xylene. These harmful compounds can come
from such as paints, air fresheners, and furnishings. Some of the
air-cleansing plants that you might consider are spider plants,
Boston fern, golden pothos, aloe vera, snake plants, and peace
The fifth trend, Make a Splash, refers both to incorporating more soothing water features into gardens, as well as the functional use of rainscapes to capture and cleanse stormwater. “Wonders of Water” is the theme in 2018 of the Philadelphia Flower Show—the largest such indoor show in the world.
Grow Your Own Protein is the trend of “concerned citizens,
particularly millennials, turning to meat-free eating for better
health—both for ourselves and our planet.” Plant-based
proteins “require less land, water, fuel, and other resources to
grow, making them more eco-friendly than their animal-based
counterparts.” “Flexitarian” is the new term for those
23 million Americans who are eating more plants, 38 percent going
meatless at least once per week. Top protein-rich foods you can
grow include edamame, peas, quinoa, broccoli, corn, asparagus,
spinach, kale, millet, and sunflower seeds.
Purple Reign is the last trend, which mirrors the shade of
purple—ultra violet—which is the Pantone Color of the Year for
2018. “Purple food promotes mental strength. Purple
antioxidants, or anthocyanins, help fight cancer, have anti-aging
benefits, reduce obesity, and protect the heart.” Top purple foods
you can grow include beets, blueberries, goji berries, eggplant,
plums, purple cabbage, purple carrots, and purple sweet
potatoes. Or, look for these and other purple produce at
stores and farm stands. Don’t overlook purple foliage in the
garden, such as from purple basil, or from the many purple flowers
such as annual purple petunias or perennial salvia.
Watch for signs and products of these trends this gardening
season. Consider which you can incorporate into your own
gardens, landscapes, and even interior living and work spaces.
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