Want to know what will be the next big thing in gardening?
From gardening in tiny spaces to using plants as a form of medicine, new research shows these are the garden trends set to dominate 2021.
Remember, you heard it here first!
1) Balcony gardening
One in eight households in the UK have no access to a private or shared garden. But, fear not – if you have a balcony, you can transform it into a beautiful garden. With #balconygardening reaching 96,817 posts on Instagram, it is the top up and coming gardening trend right now. But how can you make the best of such a small space? An expert in small space gardening, Isabelle Palmer, a.k.a. ‘The Balcony Gardener,’ says the first step should be considering what you want from the space.
‘Do you want somewhere to [relax] or to grow edibles such as a herb container?’ she adds.
In terms of plants, Isabelle recommends a base of evergreens such as Laurus nobilis Bay Laurel, Fatsia japonica False Castor Oil Plant or Choisya ternata Mexican Orange Blossom for all year round interest, then adding annual plants for bold colours.
Isabelle’s top balcony gardening tips:
- Choose the biggest pot you can as this makes watering easier.
- Select plants suited to the environment e.g. if it’s light or shady.
- Pick colours that will flow from the room leading off it.
- Start with the tallest plants at the back and work forward.
- Use mirrors or light-coloured planters to make the space look bigger.
- Stick to one material for planters to avoid a cluttered feel.
- Position the biggest planter at the furthest point in eyesight so your eye is drawn to it.
- Adopt the ‘thriller, filler and spiller’ method for planting. For instance, choose a bold ‘thriller’ plant to stand out, something that’s ‘a filler’ and can go in the middle and a plant that trails over the side – ‘a spiller’.
2) Windowsill gardening
Don’t be disheartened if you have no outside space at all, you can still do some gardening on your windowsill. It’s just a matter of being creative. With us spending more time at home than usual, city residents have begun to recognise the importance of bringing greenery to their homes. For that reason, windowsill gardening is taking off.
Gardening has been pushed to the forefront as a relaxing pastime and people’s outlooks on outdoor spaces have transformed, explains Isabelle, people are wanting to utilise any space they’ve got, even if it’s just a window ledge.
A windowsill garden is ideal for growing plants to use in cooking such as herbs, chilli, kale, baby beetroot, pea shoots, onion and spinach.
‘There are [also] lots of dwarf varieties of trees,’ says Isabelle, ‘you can create a mini landscape and really make it your own bit of green.’
3) Permaculture gardening
Despite originating over 40 years ago, this holistic approach to gardening is rising in popularity. Permaculture gardening means ‘permanent agriculture’ and is defined as working with natural forces – wind, sun and water – to provide food, shelter, water and whatever else your garden needs.
‘We are seeing thousands of more people interested in permaculture each year,’ says strategic communications coordinator Ryan Sandford-Blackburn from the Permaculture Association ‘with the personal and community resilience that the COVID-19 pandemic brought, and the food and supplies shortages in March/April, coupled with no-deal Brexit fears, people are taking [sustainability] seriously.’
Using the natural elements in your garden is essential. Key processes include succession planting and companion planting.
Ryan shares the benefits of permaculture gardening:
- Caring for the soil and wildlife.
- Not polluting and depleting natural resources, rather building them to ensure abundance in the future.
- ‘Success! If you implement a good design, then you'll have ample water, healthy soil, food, fuel and flowers,’ he claims.
- Skill and knowledge development through building your own raised beds from reclaimed materials, identifying insects and building compost bays, for example.
- Fun through making friends with neighbours while spending time in your front garden.
4) White gardens
A sense of purity, simplicity, elegance and tranquillity may come to mind when we think of the colour white and perhaps the desire to experience this is the reason white will be adorning gardens in 2021. While there’s no one way to create a white garden, choosing a dark backdrop is a key step followed by varying foliage textures and forms, then embellishing with eye-catching white flowers.
Interior and garden stylist Selina Lake, who has styled white-themed gardens previously, explains white can appear stark, so she suggests using natural-coloured and slightly off-white accessories and garden furniture to avoid this within a white garden.
‘Let the beauty of the white flowers and plants that you’re using be the white element and the styling details be more subtle,’ she says.
Plants perfect for this are Orlaya grandiflora White Laceflower, Rhododendron ‘Cunningham's White’, Delphinium ‘Guardian White’, Arrowwood ‘Park Farm Hybrid’ or Cytisus x praecox ‘Albus’.
5) Wild garden
If you prefer the ‘wild look,’ this one’s for you. Forget perfectly pruned hedges, meticulously mowed lawns and neat flower beds, this rapidly growing trend is about letting nature run its course.
Selina, who is the proud owner of a wild section of garden, appropriately named ‘middle meadow,’ believes the potential to attract wildlife is what makes wild gardens so appealing.
‘When you have a [wild] area, it’s teeming with insects and lots of birds come to eat them,’ she says.
The surprise element is also something Selina loves about her ‘middle meadow.’ Originally filled with bluebells, she left them untouched and this summer wild buttercups unexpectedly sprung up.
Long wild grass and plant vines that climb up fences or walls will help to create this untamed look by concealing these human-made structures. Opting for single-flowering varieties of plants will give your garden the best chance of being wildlife-friendly; meanwhile, open flowers are ideal for attracting bees, butterflies and other pollinating insects.
Selina’s advice for anyone hoping to achieve a wild garden is to not be afraid to let certain areas do their thing.
In terms of styling wild gardens, she claims the trick is to be contained with anything you add such as planters and furniture to avoid a chaotic and cluttered feel.
‘You need to let [the styled areas] be calm, so the wild areas do the talking,’ she adds.
6) Plants for better health
This may not be a new concept, but increasing numbers of us have come to notice and experience the power of plants and the positive impact being outdoors can have on our mental and physical health. Not to mention the sense of purpose and achievement that seeing a plant we’ve nurtured bloom can bring.
Amazingly, evidence states hospital patients with a view of greenery have been shown to recover more rapidly than those with only a view of buildings.
Further, a report in the Mental Health Review Journal claims that the benefits of gardening include a reduction in symptoms of depression and anxiety as well as reduced stress levels and improved mood.
Medicinal plants are gaining traction with gardens such as Chelsea Physic Garden having dedicated the past year to celebrating plants as medicine to help support wellbeing and health. Try growing some natural remedies for yourself; Chamaemelum nobile Chamomile is great for indigestion and skin irritation, Lavender offers a calming aroma to aid restful sleep and Salvia rosmarinus Rosemary can enhance memory and concentration.
7) Inside outside
The garden feeling like an extension of the home – that’s the idea behind this trend and, after spending so much time at home this year, something which many of us can probably relate to. Creating a natural flow from your inside space to your outdoor space is nothing new in the gardening world, but it’s set to be even more popular in 2021. Why is this? Selina claims it’s because the majority of us have experienced the huge wellbeing benefits that a connection to nature can provide.
‘To bring nature inside is like a healing process. Plus, surrounding yourself with houseplants is good for the air quality in your home,’ she adds.
Selina says the first step to achieving this flow is by working with what you already have, then investing in houseplants if required. A budget-friendly and quick way is by sourcing foliage directly from your garden and placing them in a vase.
For taking the indoors outside, Selina recommends setting up a living space.
‘If you’ve got a couple of benches, cosy them up with cushions and throws. Don’t be afraid to take your textiles outside as they can be washed if they get grubby.’
If you only have a small outdoor space, Selina explains by focussing on displaying your favourite plants indoors and outdoors, you can link the two spaces simply with plants. Plants that work both indoors and out include Pelargoniums Geraniums, Buxus Boxwood and Zantedeschia Calla Lily.
8) Vertical gardening
Image credit: commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Vertical_Ecosystems_1.JPG. Image has been cropped
Want a lush green or exotic look but have limited space? Then, vertical gardening is the way to go. By using climbers, espalier trees, hanging planters, wall planting and shelving, it’s another innovative way to make the most of a small outdoor space that can produce stunning results. No wonder it’s set to be huge next year!
Isabelle agrees it’s a fantastic way to transform a space no matter how small. To keep it looking at its best, you don’t necessarily need to spend a lot of money, you just need to invest in a proper system as they do require a lot of irrigation, she explains.
Her advice for vertical gardening is to use a variety of textures and soft foliage such as Heuchera Coral Bells, Parthenium hysterophorus carrot grass or ferns. Jasmine is effective for climbing up walls and producing a pleasant scent too. You can also grow crops such as herbs, strawberries and edible flowers vertically.
‘I would pick four to five different varieties of plants and stick to those,’ adds Isabelle.