by Cammie Barden
Attendees at Cultivate’17 had the opportunity to listen to Katie Dubow and Suzan McKoy of Garden Media Group present their thoughts about trends for the 2018 season. They circulate around two main principles: Nature as a prescription for wellness and climate control.
Depression and anxiety are estimated to outrank obesity by 2030, with Generation Y being the most stressed. “Gardening is a prescription for a healthy mind and healthy body,” said Dubow in regards to the publics movement towards holistic practices for good health.
The trend leaning toward climate change is focused on the changing climate. Dubow says that 16 of the last 17 years have been the warmest on record. “The trend is not just about drought,” said Dubow.
The whole direction of the 2018 trend is going toward working with nature instead of altering nature for the landscape. Rain gardens, desert gardens, rock gardens and edibles are becoming more and more popular with consumers as they require minimal maintenance and still look beautiful.
The reduced maintenance and the idea of sustainability are driving market trends as consumers are reaching for freeze-proof gardens and growing their own produce instead of just ornamentals. As such, investing in displays and offering gardening classes can assist your customers in realizing these market trends they are interested in.
“Learn how your plants work together and manage themselves to create less stress,” said Dubow. Many plants exist in symbiotic relationships and can thrive without human interference. Plants solve challenges and it is that ideology which is taking a focus. “They want to mimic nature — no open space and no mulch.”
This leads into developing the imperfect garden and living simply. “Wabi-sabi is the Japanese art of appreciating imperfection. [In gardening] it is to imitate nature and embrace it all, even weeds,” said Dubow.
This means to fill in the space, using natural and organic materials and being okay if the plant develops holes in its leaves or grows crooked. It is also the acceptance of insects and planting for their benefit. Suggesting flora to consumers which encourage beneficial and native insects is a way for consumers to stop stressing about insects, as everything has a purpose.
“Plant one for you and plant one for the insects,” Dubow suggests as a way for customers concerned about insects can embrace wabi-sabi while still having a landscape. It is also a good way to encourage the purchase of more product. However, it is not every insect which is to be encouraged. The plants are best used for attracting the natural predators of pests, such as lady bugs.
For customers living in smaller spaces such as apartments, the idea to bring plant life indoors to improve air quality is continuing to rise. Of course, the idea on removing or reducing the amount of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) is at the forefront. “Fifty-two percent of people know of [VOCs] and they know that plants can remove them,” said Dubow. As VOCs are found in homes, using easy to grow and manage plants are becoming popular.
In the past, the industry focused on wall plants to provide better air quality and greenery to these individuals with little space. But now hanging plants upside-down is emerging, allowing even the smallest spaces to have plant life. As many different types of plants can be grown upside-down, this makes for an easy potted plant to present to your customers.
A further trend developing is the use of water in landscapes. Dubow says these landscapes feature “color displays, fountains or flowing water” as well as big pools and reflectives acting as a major focus piece. It also includes rainscaping.
“Rain trends reduce storm water runoff and creates storm water management,” said Dubow. Due to heavy downpours and droughts, incorporating a rainscape into a landscape creates a beautiful way to prevent plants from drowning and perhaps storing water during times of drought. This particular landscape is also becoming a requirement in some U.S. locations.
Finally, “many people are becoming flexitrians, eating less meat and more veggies,” said Dubow. “Meat consumption has fallen fifteen percent from 2006.” As Meatless Mondays are becoming a bigger fad and consumers are becoming more cognizant of the dangers of over-eating meat, they are becoming more focused on growing their own protein and vegetables to save some money at the grocery store.
On top of simply providing the needed plants and plant media for customers to grow their own edibles, bringing in nutritionists and classes on growing produce to your greenhouse can be a great focus. Its centered all on making the backyard profitable as well as beautiful.
“Metallics and purples are the biggest colors right now,” said Dubow. This is especially true for edibles, such as purple carrots, cauliflowers, beets and others. “Many people are understanding the benefits to purple foods.” Scientists and nutritionists are finding links to reducing cancer, heart diseases and obesity with the consumption of purple foods. And as these edibles are beautiful as well as nutritious, they are a great way to make any landscape multi-purpose.
“It is becoming natural to blend ornamentals with purple edibles,” said Dubow. Gone are the days of separating gardens into edibles and non-edibles. It is following the trend of making the land as natural as possible and encouraging the expansion into creating unique and incredible landscapes.