8 New Garden Trends to Make Yours Standout Worthy

October 7, 2013

This is our first guest post by freelance writer Marcela De Vivo, I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

You might think that garden style is eternal, but it’s as subject to change as fashion…or even the seasons.  This year, gardeners from around the world are exploring new looks (and feels!), materials, and even philosophical approaches to gardening, so whether it’s a matter of experimenting with a new plant or a head-to-toe overhaul, you should find at least one fad here to meet your budget and commitment level.

1. Harvest Bouquets:  Beyond Flowers

This year, gardeners are burying the notion that a bouquet should be an arrangement of traditional blossoms only and branching out into unconventional bundles that include things that would normally end up on the dinner table.  Some of these are previous crossovers, such as the lovely flowering cabbage and squash blooms, but adventurous potting-Picassos are turning to eggplants, radishes, and even string beans to spice things up.  And here’s yet another reason to get excited about kale.

2. The Touchy Feely Garden

If the arrangement styles above look good enough to eat, this season gardeners will be embracing “hands-on” planting choices that literally feel good.  The fluffy pussy willow (Salix capreas), the soft, fairy-tale like mounds of Scleranthus uniflorus, or the highly strokable perennial grass Pennisetum all seem made to be touched  (these are therefore all great touches for kid-visited gardens).  In short, experiment with any willows, long grasses, ferns, and mosses.

3. The New Waldens

Over the last few years, gardeners everywhere have taken to heart a Thoreau-like self-reliance and sufficiency with their spreads,  creating layouts that yield usable products, take up less space, and conserve water.  This “homesteading” approach not only means innovative ways of squeezing more plants and vegetables into an economical plot –remember the traditional Native American “three sisters” plotting of corn, beans, and squash? — but also finding ways of preserving your bounty to last well beyond harvest time.

4. Going Recycled

At a time of still-wobbly economics and a green-or-bust ecology, it’s no wonder the look of recycled furniture and accessories has moved from Bohemia alone to more mainstream homes and backyards.  From old rusty metal to weather-worn wood to even more daring accents (bicycle wheels, car parts), junked materials can give your garden that hint of run-down rustic charm.   Further tip:  hit nearby galleries as well as the scrapyard to support local artists who work with re-purposed media.

5.  Narrative Tableaux

If plopping down a  few rock sculptures doesn’t satisfy your art-tooth, this season it’s okay to run wild with big, splashy themes that will envelop your garden with story.  You can run with a fully developed story world, using classics such as Through the Looking Glass, The Chronicles of Narnia, or even Edward Gorey’s The Evil Garden as a jumping off point, or just drop hints of another world.  If you’re already playing with old metal objects, for example, invoke a steampunk world into your backyard.

6. Themed Walls

If your garden involves trellises or planting boxes on the side of a structure, think about incorporating the adjoining wall into the look and energy of the flora and landscaping that abuts it.  A simple one-color paint job can make the hues of your flowers pop, for example.  If you’re a bit more ambitious, a trompe-l’oeil mural of vines will be a true conversation piece.

7.  Water Wonderland

Truly classic designs never go out of style — or at least they keep coming back in every season — and perhaps nothing is more iconographic for a garden than a gently rippling water fountain.   While some people may be scared off by the logistics of installation, there are many relatively hassle-free outdoor fountain kits with looks ranging from the Oriental to the post-modern.

8.  Community Gardening

Accompanying the growing sea change in conserving resources, we’re also seeing people emerge from behind the picket fences to join in neighborhood collective gardens.  Not only are shared gardens a great way to grow a community, they’re a great means of manifesting large-scale designs that might be daunting to an individual.  Additionally, they might be the only way for city and apartment-dwellers to engage their green thumbs.

These are just a few emerging trends, so keep your eyes open for new ideas around you.  Remember, an essential joy of creating a garden space is that it’s always a work in progress, so you can perpetually stir in new ideas as time goes by.  Most of all, run with your whims and never be afraid to get your hands dirty.

Marcela is a freelance writer from Southern California.  She enjoys gardening and can’t wait to try out some of these new trends on her own garden. She currently writes for Soothing Walls. Follow her on Twitter!

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