By Elaine Markoutsas
Special to Tribune Newspapers
January 22, 2013
It's been 30 years since futurist John Naisbitt advanced the idea of "high tech-high touch" in his groundbreaking best-seller, "Megatrends." And perhaps that balancing act he felt technology demands resonates even more today, with gizmos dominating our lives. What more logical counterpoint than nature?
"We've gotten so stressed out with technology," says Susan McCoy, president of the Garden Media Group, based in Kennett Square, Pa. "Connecting with nature is a necessity, not a luxury."
Trend spotting is not so much about fashion, in-out lists declaring blue hydrangeas are in or begonias are out, but more about how garden relates to lifestyle, the economy, ecology and where we live — inside and out.
Here are 10 gardening trends that will be creating a buzz:
Foraging. Although Greek yia-yias (grandmothers) have been known to forage even expressway embankments for spring horta (wild dandelions), the thought is even closer to home than parks and forest preserves. "Slipper edibles," says McCoy. "You can go out in your slippers to tend them." Antioxidant-rich berries, with new dwarf edible ornamentals like BrazelBerries will be huge, she predicts.
Wellness. Fewer veggies, more herbs — especially medicinal. "We've seen an increase in the use of bergamot, camomile and comfrey, as well as more unusual culinary herbs," says Briscoe White of The Growers Exchange.
Mini and micro. Mini Zen gardens continue to engage. Tiny potted evergreens were popular during the holidays, along with the giant Douglas firs. Even big box stores sell minis. And fairy gardening, a kind of girly answer to train gardens, builds Lilliputian scenes with dollhouse furniture and bonsai-esque trees.
Ecoscaping. To reduce water consumption, look for more drought tolerant plants such as succulents, natives and ornamental grasses. "We need to provide a natural habitat for birds, butterflies and bees," says McCoy.
Naturing. "Don't gaudy up the landscape with plants that don't belong," says McCoy. Incorporating native plants plus natural design elements — rocks, stone walls, water — coupled with sustainable, organic solutions has never been stronger, according to the Association of Professional Landscape Designers.
Energizing color. Color is being expressed in plants, furnishings and accessories. "We're seeing happy brights like yellow, blue, green, hot pink, purple. If you want to paint your chairs with polka dots, do it. People just need to have more fun." LEDs are adding more decorative options to create mood in landscape decor — with strings of orbs that change colors, candlelike pillars and up lights. Look for LED-lit polypropylene planters and furniture soon. "Forget the runway lights on a path," says McCoy. "Mix it up. It's about accenting with light, not just lighting." And it's much more affordable than it used to be.
Air forces. For low maintenance and wow factor, air plants are the cool new terrariums. They need no soil to grow; just tuck them into shallow bowls, tiny glass globes or cylinders. (Check out shopterrain.com.) They also can be "planted" on vertical or horizontal grids fashioned with fishing line for a living wall outdoors.
Interiorscaping. Large plantable canvases with individual "pods" are creating living art indoors. Health benefits are again being touted. "As plants absorb carbon dioxide and give off oxygen," says McCoy, "they remove toxins, reduce stress, migraines, lower blood pressure, speed healing, improve concentration and bring peace of mind."
Sharing. "There are more farmers markets than ever," says McCoy. "But community gardens are the new grocery stores. People are taking blighted lots in Detroit and Tucson and converting them into urban gardens. Corporations and schools are putting in gardens. Yard sharing, raising chickens and plant swapping will evolve.
"We've gotten to be such an isolated society. We quit talking to our neighbors, sitting out on front porches. Now the pendulum is swinging back. Gardening brings people together. It can provide not only food for our bodies, but food for our souls."