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The pandemic saw many of us dust off our gardening gloves and make the most of our outside spaces – and if the stats (and those muddy hallway footprints) are anything to go by, interest in gardening is showing no signs of slowing.
According to Nationwide, garden-related spending shot up 77% in April to June this year, compared to the previous quarter. There are around three million more of us, with nearly half of newbie gardeners aged under 45. This new cohort are climate-conscious and eager to experiment with colour after a, let’s face it, rather drab couple of years.
“More people than ever are getting into gardening and discovering the joy of seeing garden birds, and that connection with nature will only strengthen in 2022,” says climate-savvy gardener and Organic Way editor Kim Stoddart.
“In the context of climate change, food insecurity and Covid, we have all this uncertainty about the future, so 2022 will be about building resilience in the garden and also building resilience in the gardener to make informed decisions about person, plate and planet.”
Chloe Wells, press officer at the RHS agrees that gardeners will continue to look at their plots through a sustainable lens. According to their latest trend report, “planet friendly gardening continues to dominate gardeners’ approach to their plots with scything, fermenting and cut flower growing set to take off.
“Based on gardener enquiries and horticultural trends, the charity sees a return to bolder planting choices with deeper shades replacing more muted colour schemes. This is also reflected in the trend for red-fleshed fruit, with apples, pomegranates and chokeberries proving popular choices.”
As we gear up for a new gardening year, we ask the experts to gaze into their crystal balls and reveal the key gardening trends we can expect to see in 2022.
9 GARDEN TRENDS FOR 2022
1. Home-grown hits: Veg, cut flowers and plants
As interest in gardening has risen, so too has the cost of gardening. According to The FT, plant costs shot up by 8-13% in 2021, with Brexit and biosecurity checks partly to blame. With prices expected to rise further, it’s no surprise that Wyevale Nurseries predicts a preference for British-grown plants in 2022.
The RHS experts say we’ll cut the carbon footprint of our food further with back garden-orchards: “‘Snow White’ apples – high in anthocyanins which are thought to be anti-inflammatory and anti-viral – will become more prevalent in gardens and follow the success of newly introduced varieties ‘Tickled Pink’ and ‘Surprise’. An explosion in fruit training adds to the allure. Continuing the trend for red produce, gardeners will also experiment with more exotic fruits such as pomegranates, chokeberries and serviceberries.”
As well as sourcing as locally as we can, we’ll also be returning to our vegetable patches but next year it isn’t just produce we’ll be harvesting. According to the RHS, home-grown bouquets will flourish in 2022: “Edibles and flowers will share space on the veg patch as people respond to the carbon footprint of shop bought flowers and turn to growing their own.
“Repeat flowering plants such as alstromeria, cosmos, dahlias, and zinnia will be favoured for their ease of growing and reliability during the summer months while sea lavender and everlasting flower serve as dried decoration for winter displays.”
2. Confidence with colour
Instagram-worthy pinks aren’t going anywhere just yet, particularly if #philodendronpinkprincess fans have their way, but comforting autumnal hues and fiery reds are coming to the fore. Think Cercis canadensis ‘Eternal Flame’, the RHS Plant of the Year.
“As public confidence returns, so has a taste for more daring plant colours such as reds, oranges and purples, with crocosmia, salvia and canna set to prove popular in 2022 as a result,” says Chloe. “The colour trend is also reflected in new releases from growers such as everlasting flower ‘Granvia Gold’ and echinacea ‘SunMagic’ series, while low maintenance houseplants in brighter hues are also predicted to overtake sales of green-leafed plants, such as the new red succulent x Semporium ‘Sienna’.”
When it comes to the must-have plants of 2022, Wyevale Nurseries predicts we’ll lean towards brightly coloured plants, like bold, architectural alliums. “Allium Lavender ‘Bubbles’ is a wonderful new introduction. It was winner of the Best New Plant at this year’s virtual National Plant Show, and got second place in the RHS Chelsea Flower Show Plant of the Year.
It’s so called because it has masses of dusky purple flowers which appear to float like bubbles over lush, glaucous evergreen foliage. It has a long flowering period and performs well in the garden or in a container. Plus, it’s pollinator friendly.”
Additionally, they list Exochorda racemosa ‘Niagra’, Digitalis x valinii ‘Firebird’, Astrantia Star Collection, Hardy Fern Specimen Collection, Lomandra longifolia ‘White Sands’, and their Phormium Collection as big hitters for 2022. But colour-phobes needn’t worry, foliage hasn’t been completely sidelined.
3. 50 shades of green
Lush, leafy and low maintenance is expected to be a big vibe for 2022. Wyevale Nurseries says: “Ferns, grasses and evergreens were really popular at Chelsea 2021 and look to be a firm favourite for next year.”
The Garden Media group predicts that calming clover green is expected to be a hit among gardeners looking to create a soothing oasis. Green symbolises “renewal, rebirth and stability. Vibrant green reminds us of life, renewal and nature.” For inspiration on nailing this trend look to Ula Marija’s Green.
4. Small space gardening
Container and balcony gardening finally got its moment at Chelsea 2021 and, in 2022, we’ll continue to see innovative ways to tend our small spaces, from planters on wheels to vertical gardening and green roofs.
“Smaller gardens can serve multiple functions with a clever use of space. People want to relax, play, cook and dine and this can be achieved even when space is tight,” says Nicola Hale, the landscape designer behind the Landform Balcony at the Chelsea Flower Show 2021, which proved that small urban spaces can be functional, aesthetically pleasing and double up as wildlife havens.
Additionally, we’ll see disused spaces co-opted for growing, with the Garden Media Group putting the emphasis on our front gardens in particular. “Curb appeal has been rising, but the front porch is the new destination. It’s like having a new room to enjoy, decorate and plant.” And there’s good reason to spruce up your front garden. According to an RHS study, “filling a bare front garden with a handful of plants has the same stress-reducing impact as attending eight mindfulness sessions.”
5. In the zone
We’re not saying the lawn’s days are numbered but it’s definitely losing its place as the focal point in garden design. Post pandemic, we saw a shift to ‘broken plan gardens’, as ‘garden rooms’ overtook the open plan concept. Nicola expects this trend to stick around as our homes continue to double up as living/work/play/entertainment areas.
“Often we are asked for pergolas and canopies that include adjustable overhead louvres. Some with blinds or glass sliding doors. Very much taking the indoors… outdoors! Also, fireplaces are more often included within these lounge/outdoor kitchen rooms for that all important heat in the colder months. Garden lighting is also important to mark.”
She adds, however, the look of our garden rooms is shifting. “Often, we are now asked for more of a natural feel to the planting, as people realise that their connection with nature is more important than ever. Less hard landscaping, more planting.”
Nicola recommends choosing a colour palette of four or five colours which helps to keep the scheme cohesive.
6. Sustainable gardening and the green dream
2021 was a big year for eco-friendly gardening. A peat ban was announced (the industry now has until 2024 to phase it out), an organic garden won Gold at Chelsea and, across the nation, nurseries and gardeners have found ways to reduce waste and minimise plastic use. Sustainability is firmly on the agenda next year too.
In 2022, a new plastic packaging tax will be enforced on all packaging with less than 30% recycled content, so the trend for natural, recycled and ethically-sourced materials will continue. We’re also likely to see better labelling around peat-free plants, and eco-conscious ‘plantrepreneurs’ springing up to cater for our ethical needs – people like Harriet Thompson who sells UK-grown, peat and pesticide-free plants.
For climate change-savvy grower and author Kim Stoddart, gardening with the planet in mind must take into account what, how and where you plant, alongside provenance and packaging. As well as no dig methods, wildflower meadows and following organic principles to nurture soil health, Kim foresees an uptake in polyculture methods, or ‘free planting,’ as she calls it. This is a super low maintenance form of mixed planting which requires no pesticides or netting and is great for biodiversity.
“It’s a bit like forest gardening where you build up the planting in layers. Start with one bed first and allow at least five feet between plants of the same family. So you might have a bed of tomato plants underplanted with salad leaves like lettuce and rocket or edible flowers mixed in.
“I personally like to have lots of cover plants and brightly coloured flowers like nasturtiums, calendula, feverfew and chamomile mixed in and around the plants to attract pollinators. It wouldn’t work if you were a market gardener as there is an element of foraging when it comes to the harvest. But it’s really fun, massively low maintenance and you’re tapping into the natural resilience of the plant world. Plus, having a diversity of crops makes it much harder for pests and diseases to take hold and cause damage.”
Start 2022 off the right way by working your way down this list of achievable climate actions for gardeners from the RHS, who are also launching a new range of sustainability focussed courses in 2022.
7. Houseplant havens are here to stay
When it comes to our urban jungles, Richard Cheshire, a Patch Plant Doctor, tells us the Scandi-influenced preference for minimalism is out and “a more playful or maximalist approach” is slowly becoming popular. Great news for anyone loathe to declutter their plant shelfies.
Maxed out your allotted plant space already? Houseplant expert Jane Perrone let us in on a trend she is hoping will take off next year: grouping multiple plants together in the same pot, rather than having a mass of individual pots.
“This is especially good if you’re running out of room,” says Jane, “and it usually makes houseplants quite happy to grow that way. Ultimately one plant will probably outcompete the others, but you can get a lovely contrast of leaf shapes, textures and colours and you can be quite creative. It’s a lot of fun.”
There are endless possibilities but Jane suggests the following companions for starters: “Ferns go well with begonias and some trailing Ficus pumila. Cacti and succulents are better grouped together, rather than mixed in with leafy plants – but do not put succulents in a terrarium! You can grow a mixed arrangement of Pileas or Peperomias with foliage of different shapes and colours; or try underplanting a big specimen plant such as a Dracaena with trailing Ceropegia woodii or Rhipaslis.”
In line with 2022’s style preference for all things retro, Jane expects interest in flowering houseplants to thrive. Think African Violets and anything from the Gesneriaceae and Primulina families. With flowers that can last up to two to three months, they bring a more long-lived joy than cut flowers.
Just like with outdoor planting, the trend indoors is for vibrancy and colour. At Patch, rare, variegated, colourful and/or flowering plants now make up 42% of their range, up 70% from 2017 and up 8% in the past year.
“We’re seeing an increased interest in plants that are rarer or have more unusual patterning or colour,” explains Richard. “Our range of Caladiums (valued for their variegation and colour) sold out very fast, and we see strong demand for pink plants like Ficus Belize and Syngonium neon robusta. We’re also seeing more interest in unusual variants of old favourites, especially those with interesting variegation or colour, and we think that trend is here to stay.”
Houseplant expert Jane Perrone has good news for anyone lusting after a Philodendron Pink Princess and other trending plants with eye-watering price tags. “Interest in rare plants will continue but plants that are expensive now will probably be cheap in a year or two, you just have to be patient.”
8. Time-saving gadgets
As the nation returns to work, the RHS expects that the time we’ll have to dedicate to gardening will shrink. “As a result, labour-saving activities and products that provide speedy results are on the rise such as growing kits, pre-planted baskets and troughs, self-watering pots and battery-powered pruners. These provide more opportunity to sit back and enjoy the garden with all-weather outdoor socialising set to continue.”
9. Gardening for wellbeing
Gardening has great perks, from delicious (if a little wonky) home-grown produce to being a great form of exercise. But it also does a world of good for our mental health, as evidenced in recent books The Well Gardened Mind and Losing Eden. The garden as a restorative space is something garden designer, Alexandra Noble, knows all too well.
Alexandra’s health and wellbeing garden design won the 2018 RHS People’s Choice Award at Hampton Court Palace Flower Show. “Recently, the majority of client briefs have been looking for the creation of an atmosphere or to achieve a certain mood rather than requesting a series of fixtures. Gardens should offer us space to rest and recuperate; a counterpoint to technology-focussed modern life.”
Kim agrees and stresses the importance of forgoing power tools, gloves and fancy gadgets and being fully present in the garden. “With climate change we no longer have traditional growing seasons so the usual rule book doesn’t apply anymore. It’s about looking, touching, sensing and feeling what is right for your own growing space. Gardening for wellbeing is also about adopting the make-do-and-mend mindset: working with materials you have, making your own compost and seed saving. These things are better for sustainability, good for the soul and in turn will reduce those feelings of overwhelm and anxiety,” she adds.
So what tips does Alexandra have for anyone looking to create a restful garden retreat?
“Incorporate fragrant plants such as star jasmine, sweet peas or mock orange, depending on your scent preference. I personally adore lemon-scented roses such as Rosa ‘Charles Darwin’ or Rosa ‘Vanessa Bell’.
“Surround the space with plants. Gardens where one feels cocooned by carefully considered foliage are a delight to experience. Use harmonious colours. I find whites and pastels particularly calming when it comes to flowers.”
What’s not hot in 2022?
Jane hopes the days of shopping for houseplants like fast fashion are numbered. “This ‘I want it now’ culture is problematic for houseplants. Plants are a resource that it takes time and energy to produce. We should be more respectful of that in terms of understanding their needs and making sure we buy from people who put sustainability at the heart of what they do.”
For Kim, the garden room is problematic. “By thinking of the garden as another room, you’re creating a space that is needy and massively high maintenance. Instead we should let the natural world in and resist the urge to meticulously pull out weeds or ‘tidy up’ the garden.”
Alexandra hopes the preference for artificial grass diminishes “because of how harmful to the environment it is. Rather than astro-options, consider natural lawns or wildflower meadows.”
In 2022 Jane has made a personal resolution to spend more time with her plants, which is a trend we can all jump on regardless of budget or space.
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