Spring’s Hottest Gardening Trends

By Kristen Hamilton

Another gardening season is approaching and this year brings some interesting gardening trends. So, how you can make your garden totally 2012? It’s simple. Follow these trends and add your own twist to them and your garden will be the talk of the neighbourhood.

For 2012 stress-free gardening is the hottest thing going. Having a low-maintenance garden doesn’t mean it has to be boring or have little colour; it means your plants require very little to no deadheading, are pest-resistant and require little water or pruning. There are lots of plant options that add colour and flair without the maintenance. Black Eyed Susan, Liatris, Turtle Head, and Coreopsis are a few of my favourite low-maintenance perennials. One of my all-time favourite low-maintenance shrubs is St. Johns Wort. It provides wonderful colour through the summer, requires very little pruning, and deer don’t like to eat it. Ornamental grasses are also a great option are definitely trendy.

Along with the trend of low maintenance comes reducing water consumption. Choosing plants that need little water once they’re established – such as sedums, daylilies, Purple Cone Flower, False Indigo, Ox Eye daisy or perennial Salvia just to name a few – is a great idea. The perennial Salvia is deer-resistant because it has fuzzy leaves. Amend the soil to reduce compaction by adding compost and peat moss. Add mulches to reduce the need to water and to control weeds.

This year’s runway fashions are influencing plant colours, too. The pantone color for 2012 is Tangerine Tango. This vibrant colour will work well with deep purples and soothing greens. If you want to add these trendy colors to your garden, just add pops of colour to your annual planters. Million Bells Tequila Sunrise, Double Zahara Fire zinnia and Uptown Orange Blossom zinnia are just a few great annuals that will add a little Tangerine Tango to your life. Zinnias are also resistant to fungus.

Proven Winners’ Orange-A-peel, an annual Black Eyed Susan vine, can add a wonderful pop of the trendy tangerine colour and would be wonderful cascading over the sides of a hanging basket. If you have room in your perennial gardens, Echinacea Tiki Torch or Tangerine Tango daylilies would be a great addition. Echinacea Tiki Torch likes full sun exposure, is low-maintenance, requires little watering once established, and begins to bloom mid-summer. It’s been said that Tiki Torch is deer resistant, but I would have to say that is probably not true for all areas of Muskoka.

Another trend for 2012 is growing your own vegetables. It’s a great way to get children involved in gardening and teaches them about how plants grow from seeds. If you think that a large vegetable garden would be too much work for you, just try planting some herbs and vegetables in planters and placing them on your patio or deck. Why not try different heirloom vegetables? Green Zebra, Gold Nugget, and Black Zebra are just a few heirloom tomatoes that you can start from seed. Heirloom vegetable seeds can be bought online or from your local garden centre.

Outdoor living spaces are also growing in popularity. It can be relaxing and rewarding to extend your living space by creating outdoor seating areas that are just as comfortable as your living room. Purchase outdoor furniture that is sturdy and weather-resistant. Be sure to care for cushions and other decorations that need to be protected from the elements. To add interest to your outdoor space, use stone, pre-cast pavers or wood. Using different materials gives you the feeling of different rooms, just like the inside of your home. Create shade and privacy by creating curtains or drapes from overhead canopies. Add lighting to create warmth so your space can be enjoyed in the evening, too.

If gardening outdoors just isn’t your thing, indoor gardening is a wonderful alternative. Indoor plants require that same type of care as outdoor ones, but can be a little easier to maintain. Watering is usually not as frequent and pests are not as much of a problem.

Community gardens are also growing in popularity. If you don’t have space for a garden in your own yard, if you want to help fellow gardeners or help to give to local food banks, taking part in your local community gardens will definitely be rewarding.

Plants are an essential part of our life. They enhance our homes inside and out, they brighten up our neighbourhoods and can bring communities together. They can also help with our health and wellbeing. Whether you choose to follow the latest trends or make your own, you’re guaranteed to have a good time. Welcome, spring!

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