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GardenSMART :: Gardening Trends For 2017

Gardening Trends For 2017

By Kate Karam, Monrovia
Photographs courtesy of Monrovia

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Oh, these are interesting times to be a gardener! On the one hand, humble backyard edible gardens have never been so popular, but at the same time, there's an increased level of sophistication in landscape design and plant selection with an emphasis on rich, saturated color, function over form, and a sense of luxury. As we continue our love affair with easy care, "always-on" plants, we seem equally unable to resist the seduction of the ephemeral beauty of plants like peonies and camellias. Globally, floratourism is at an all-time high as travelers seek a respite in a stressful world; closer to home, issues of food security and climate change are impacting what and how we garden.

We forecast 9 key trends for 2017 (see full report here), but wanted to highlight three that we think will impact the home gardener as soon as this spring.

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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. Junipers that take on a purple cast, pines that glow in shades of gold or plum, arborvitae that morph into coppery-bronze foliage with orangey tips are proving to be immensely popular. 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.  Here are six to watch.

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Backyard gardening influenced by "no waste" food movement

Home gardeners have embraced backyard agriculture for lots of reasons—flavor, cost, bragging rights—but expect to see the "no waste" food movement added to that list. Why? Because you're likely to eat what you grow rather than throw, whether picture-perfect or not (and maybe Instagram it). With about 1 in 3 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. On a global scale, look for increased interest in and facilitation of consuming, even glorifying, so-called "ugly food," whether homegrown or purchased.

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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 and living up to their "biophilic generation" designation. They're filling national parks and camping grounds, turning an urban treehouse (and treehouses in general) into the top Airbnb wish list destination, and adding nature-inspired activity to routine travel. Look for more record-shattering attendance figures at national parks, botanical gardens and arboretums worldwide. While millennials have yet to translate this love of nature into gardening beyond growing food crops, data suggests it's just a matter of time.

We would love to hear your thoughts on these and the other trends in our report. And, what you think is going to be hot in 2018! Email me at For much more about gardening, plants, solutions, and ideas, visit our exciting new blog, Grow Beautifully. While you're there, be sure to sign up for our award-winning monthly newsletter, Plant Savvy.




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