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  Time to Dig in the Dirt: Gardening Trends for 2008

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With climate change, rising gas prices and larger grocery tabs, digging around in the dirt and planting a few seeds and plants is becoming more of a necessity than a hobby.

In 2007, vegetable gardening increased by 1-percent resulting in $1.16 billion in sales. While the popularity of organic produce is steadily increasing, local has become the new organic. In 2007, the New Oxford American Dictionary named ‘locavore’ the publication’s Word of the Year, with the definition, ‘a person who endeavors to eat only locally produced food.’

With more of us interested in local production, often seen in the vendors at farmers’ markets, the trend is filtering into our purchase of plants and planting material. We want to know how was it made, who grew it and how did it get here.

Outdoor living is no longer just a fad or a trend, but more of a way to enjoy what our homes have to offer, especially in light of rising costs of traveling and moving. Garden centers expect to see an increase in sales of outdoor furniture, landscaping and plants as we find new ways to add more value to our homes.

As more consumers look for products to help them decorate the great outdoors, they’re looking to container gardening, color trends and water features. All of this is being done with an eye for curves, a need for ease and with a desire to attract bees and birds to our landscapes. While the garden and patio become a place for retreat from our busy days, we’re also finding less and less time to spend tending them.

Since 2006, water gardening has increased 49 percent. From the smallest of water ponds created in a patio flowerpot to all out recreations of fountains and streams, flowing, moving water features are becoming easier to maintain.

On the other end of the water spectrum, many gardeners are also exploring plant options that will work well during periods of draught, thereby, better on the environment. Choices can include native grasses, prairie plants Mediterranean plants and garden shrubs and perennials. Other ways to conserve water usage is includes the latest trend of installing rainwater collection barrels (with spigots at the bottom for easy use) and garden hose nozzles that pressurize water flow and lets us use less water.

When planning a container garden, gardening experts recommend container gardens follow the 60-30-10 rule: 60 percent of the container should be one main color, 30 percent of the plants should be a complimentary color and 10 percent of the plants should be an accent color - all while utilizing a variety of foliage, flowers and succulents. The trend for gardening, something we practice at home is for big containers and big plants as we find ourselves planting more and more vegetables on our patio.

Hot, and cool, gardening colors in 2008 include iris blue, orange, chartreuse, teal, lime, aqua, pink, red, blue, gold and naturals, while black and white are popular choices for outdoor furniture.

Since the introduction of solar lighting a few years ago, many gardeners are still discovering how beneficial outdoor lighting is to the landscape making it easier to navigate paths and stairs at night and making the space more welcoming. In 2008, more outdoor table lamps will be in the marketplace and the sales of fire pits are expected to increase as we look for more ways to extend our time outdoors.

Other trends include: an increased interest in heirloom vegetables and flowers, planting tropical plants in cooler climates as annuals, limiting our use of chemicals and pesticides, using more organic and sustainable plants/seeds and attracting insects and wildlife that act as pollinators.

As we strive to bring the outdoors inside as we harvest flowers and produce from our gardens, ultimately, the continuing trend in gardening is to take the indoors outside. As we create personal, cozy spaces outdoors, the need for comfort, functionality and beauty will continue to merge.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • create garden themes based on your favorite travel destinations
  • try planting dwarf trees and perennials in pots to create intimate small spaces
  • mix edible plants and ornamentals throughout your landscape and containers
  • look for heirlooms to create interest
  • shop for furniture that mixes wood and steel and the wood will add warmth to your outdoor room
  • dig those holiday lights out of storage to add a little fairytale charm to banisters, bushes and trees on or near your patio
  • play with colors (see the trendy colors above) by planting cool and warm colors together in the same planting


Sources: Garden Media Group, Spoga Cologne and the Garden Writers Association.