TRENDS IN CONTAINER GARDENING
“If you want to be happy for a lifetime, be a gardener.”
- Chinese Proverb
The essentials of gardening do not change very much from season to season. Both the essentials of sunlight, moisture, and soil are constant, along with our desire to create life in our own homes and yards. The trends of gardening, however, are as changing as fashion trends.
Container gardens offer a flexible way for gardeners to dabble with the creative and trendy, without the commitment. Containers can be refreshed as often as gardeners choose to change their minds. Use annuals to invite a new style each spring, or try out other creative container uses for an easy way to upgrade the look of your yard with just one trendy element.
If you’re looking for somewhere to get started with your garden this year, the season’s new trends are a fantastic place to start:
COLOR OF THE YEAR
Every year, the fashion and design worlds await the announcement of Pantone’s selection for the trend-setting color of the year. As the leading color and design authority, their selection often has massive influence over popular trends for the rest of the year. 2018’s choice of Ultraviolet (Pantone shade 18-3838) is very exciting for gardeners.
The possibilities of ultraviolet in the garden comes down to science. This color sits on the very edge of the spectrum of visible light. When we see this hue, we can only actually see about half of it, and the rest is filled in by our brain’s best guess of the color. While other creatures, like bees, have the ability to see the entire scope of the color, we are treated to something else entirely.
As a color that is half real and half imaginary to us, ultraviolet can be downright moody. The same shade in different lighting can take on many different qualities, creating quite a spectacle in our containers and gardens.
Here’s how to make the most out of ultraviolet in your containers this year:
• Violet contrasts with yellow, so they bring out each other’s intensities. Pair your ultraviolet flowers with a sunny yellow for a more vibrant, eye-catching container.
• Ultraviolet is very intense, but can easily get lost among other dark shades. Plant your ultraviolet flowers with a brighter companion, like a light foliage, to bring it to life.
• Ultraviolet provides a special treat in the fall. As the lighting levels get lower near the end of the season, your garden will still be vibrant with new shades of violet.
WATER GARDEN CONTAINERS
This trend is perfect for anyone that loves the tranquility of a backyard pond, but not the commitment and work that comes with it. Instead of taking on a large landscaping project, you can simplify the process by transforming a simple container into a miniature pond.
A water garden container is very simple. You’ll need a container without any drainage, some heavy clay soil, and some water plants. Place your container anywhere that gets at least 6 hours of sunlight a day and you’ll have your own miniature water feature. Don’t be afraid to be creative with your container, as almost anything that is sealed will work!
Consider adding a small pump for ambient noise and to discourage mosquitoes. Place your water container near a patio to enjoy the relaxing sounds of water, while your other plants benefit from the boost in ambient humidity.
As you build, keep in mind:
• Almost any container works, but beware of half-whisky barrels and other materials that could leach toxins into your water.
• You will need to add more water as it evaporates. If you use tap water, leave it out for a few days before adding. This will allow some of the harsh chlorine - to which plants (and fish) are sensitive - to evaporate.
• If a pump isn’t enough to discourage mosquitoes from your water container, organic larvicides are a safe way to keep them away.
• You will need to keep algae under control over the season. This will only require attention once or twice a year (or more, if you add fish to your container).
Succulents have been the leading trendy plant for a few years and they aren’t showing any signs of slowing down. They are the perfect plant for many gardeners, combining easy care and a striking, contemporary look. The summer is a great chance to use these trendy plants to easily upgrade your outdoor containers.
Use a shallow container that has good drainage. Terra-cotta is a great no-fuss option, though some creative gardeners have adventured into the world of antiques to find containers. Anything from a bird cage, to tea cups, or even shoes can be a container with the addition of some drainage. Add some well-draining soil, such as a succulent mix or a 1:1 mix of cactus soil and a peat-based potting mix.
When you choose your succulents, a mixture of types and colors will give you the most striking design - though picking your favorites is a good strategy, too.
We have a few tips to make sure your succulent container is successful all season, and beyond:
• Choose a few succulents to bring indoors once the weather cools. If you plant these succulents in your container inside their pots, they will be easy to separate from each other in the fall.
• Provide your succulents with lots of light over the winter and, with each season, they will become a more impressive plant.
• If you have enough room, you can bring your entire succulent container inside. Always be sure to spray for pests before you bring plants indoors in the fall.
• Cut costs (and create a fun container) by mixing your succulents with some bedding plants. Avoid expensive designer annuals, as they are aggressive growers and will overwhelm your succulents. Sun-lovers like marigolds, zinnias, portulaca, and other classics are great for pairing with a succulent garden
Containers offer the possibility for new ideas every season. This year’s trends are fun ways to simplify your gardens and backyards, while keeping them pretty and enjoyable.