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Growing Together: Hot garden trends for 2017

I’m a sucker for an intriguing headline about gardening. As each year begins, magazine and online stories entice us to read about the latest rage in gardening. I usually buy the magazine or click on the story. Maybe the weed-free yard has been invented, and I don’t want to miss out.

Each year the national Garden Media Group predicts trends that will impact our yards and gardens. I’ve summarized what they feel will be hot topics using their terminology. I’ve added a few thoughts afterwards.

Peak season

Instead of limiting gardening to the outdoor growing season, transitioning it indoors is a continuing trend.

More people will be growing food indoors. Where window space is limited, grow-lights are increasingly used. Even small spaces like kitchen countertops or windowsills become mini-farms for herbs and microgreens. Indoor gardening is increasingly popular with new gardeners.

Of the 6 million people who classified themselves as “new” gardeners last year, 5 million were between 18 and 34 years old.

Wellness

Gardening is viewed as being healthy in several new ways. The latest fitness trend to hit the United States is called “forest bathing.” It conjures up mental images of bathtubs in the middle of a forest, but instead it refers to simply basking in nature’s beauty.

Time spent in nature reduces stress, and plants continue to be viewed as increasingly important for interior workspaces.

Shade trees are increasingly recommended to decrease skin exposure to the sun’s radiation. Purdue University says sitting under a shade tree has the protective quality of SPF 10 sunscreen.

“Soundscaping” is a new term for the old practice of planting trees and shrubs to change everyday city sounds by increasing bird songs and buffering traffic noise.

Tidy gardens

United States population is shifting focus from the suburbs to city living. Gardening in smaller spaces follows the trend.

Smaller spaces require neatness. Large, overgrown plant material that has outlived its usefulness should be rejuvenated or removed. Attention to pruning, thinning and dividing keeps plants tidy.

Definite boundaries create well-defined spaces.

New varieties of dwarf plants are in high demand.

Container gardening continues to be popular for both flowers and vegetables.

Clean gardening

Following the clean food movement in which people are increasingly conscious of what’s in and on their food, “clean gardening” is gaining popularity.

More people wish to avoid the overuse of pesticides that might have dangerous or unknown effects on health of humans and pets.

Gardeners and homeowners desire to know what is being sprayed on lawns and landscapes. Shoppers are interested in what pesticides are used on garden center products.

If natural or organic pest control methods prove effective, more homeowners are considering their use.

Environmental problems such as the Flint, Mich. water crisis raise interest in what’s in our water and soil.

Uber-izing gardening

Products, services and subscriptions delivered right to your door are in demand and used increasingly by gardeners. There’s greater demand for products that are well-researched and reliable as well as information that is accessible at one’s fingertips.

Classes and workshops are gaining popularity.

People increasingly want to document their experiences with photos and social media.

Buzz off

Following the clean gardening trend, people are looking for ways to control pests naturally.

The scare of Zika virus and other mosquito-borne illnesses, combined with a desire to reduce chemical use, means more people are looking for ways to control pests naturally.

Backyard bat houses are becoming more popular to encourage these mosquito eaters. More homeowners are installing birdhouses to attract mosquito-consuming birds like purple martins.

Golden age

Metallic materials and colors are trending indoors. During 2017 they’re moving outdoors also.

Splashes of golden colors warm up outdoor spaces. Yellow-gold foliage and flower colors will be popular in shrubs and perennials. You can accessorize the outdoor space with metal trays, lights and golden accent furniture.

Gardening love

Creating a gardening culture is a trend among industry professionals.

Several major organizations are uniting professionals, scientists, consumers and extension services to increase awareness of gardening.

Health benefits and satisfaction of gardening are becoming more widely publicized.

Some personal thoughts

It’s fun to read about what media analysts feel are trends and hot topics and they include good concepts.

But gardening isn’t like repainting the living room with the latest color-of-the-year. It takes time to establish plants and landscapes. And it takes time to gain experience.

Solid garden techniques and homespun knowledge might not make flashy headlines, but they’ll give a lifetime of great gardening.

Concentrating on non-trendy basics is also freeing: there’s no need worry about accessorizing your garden with the latest style.

Your old hoe will go with just about anything.

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