BLOG - 25/01/2019

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We’ve been taking a look at what ‘those in the know’ are tipping as top garden trends for 2019. We’re always talking to customers, discussing their design ideas and planting preferences, so we’ve seen a few trends develop over the past year that we think will really take off in the coming year. Hopefully some of the following will inform and inspire your ideas as you plan your garden for 2019.

The excellent Society of Garden Designers and, of course, the Royal Horticultural Society have been really useful resources in the writing of this piece.

Gardening for a changing climate is set to be a key trend. Last year’s extended period of hot, dry weather really took it out of a lot of gardens, so we’ll be seeing more of a focus on drought tolerant planting - things like grasses and succulents. Gardeners have already started to move away from the use of irrigation systems that use quite a bit of water, instead choosing to recycle as much rain and grey water (the relatively clean waste water from baths, sinks, washing machines, and other kitchen appliances) as they can. This, we think, will only become more popular moving forward.

Another effect of the hot weather in 2018 is that people have realised the value of a tree in their garden. Not a ridiculous, disproportionate, light blocking reason for neighbours to complain, you understand, but a slow growing, wildlife promoting, air purifying focal point, with incredible shape and foliage. A tree that adds perspective and three dimensionality to the space. Oh, and something that’ll provide some shade when the sun is in her pomp. That hot weather has reminded people about trees, which can only be a good thing in our eyes. A number of gardens at RHS Chelsea 2019 are reportedly inspired by woodland gardens too (The Forestry Commission has sponsored one), so we expect even people with small gardens to take inspiration from these. Trees, birch for example - a tree noted for its pollution catching properties - do surprisingly well even in containers of soil-based potting media where space is tight. Acers too, usually do well - even on a balcony.

 Sculptural and architectural plants are really set to dominate this year. The growth in popularity of houseplants is rapidly being translated outside. We’re seeing a trend in younger garden enthusiasts seeking to style their outside space in the same way they would an indoor room, using bright coloured accessories and furniture. Exotic looking plants with architectural leaves and stems make a bold statement and are part of this style revolution.

More and more, people who’ve got into indoor plants (often, it seems, inspired to do so by the plethora of photo’s shared on social media) are now seeking to create a similar look outside. It’s a great way to tie the two spaces together stylistically too.

Another side effect of the rise of the indoor plant looks like being more hanging plants in our gardens. Not the traditional hanging baskets with annual bedding that people have been doing for years, but plants with foliage, colour and texture that can be used as accessories, in addition to pots and planters. Heuchera (try ‘Marmalade’, ‘Palace Purple’ and ‘Marvellous Marble’ as combo) and prostrate Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis Prostratus), for example. The beauty of this style of hanging planting is that you only need to put it together once and, as long as the pot gets a little water, you won’t have to re-plant for a number of years, unlike the traditional annual bedding. As people become less ‘time wealthy’, we are certainly seeing a move towards lower effort gardening and this may well be a function of that.

In terms of colour palette for 2019, it’s usually the plants on display at Chelsea that lead those trends. Looking at what the show gardens have in store for us, we reckon you won’t go far wrong with greens, whites and pale yellows, which dominate the planting palates of the show gardens this year, along with splashes of orange and purple.

Pantone predicts that ‘Living Coral’ is the new shade that will stalk the catwalk, colour our homes and even influence the tint of our drinks.

Designers suggest that the colourful approach to interiors will be creeping into the garden in 2019 too. Bold coloured feature walls (think hot yellow or red), with some predicting the arrival of bold print and clashing colours - “taking kitsch into the garden”, if you will.

Talking of kitsch, it seems that plants like Pompon Dahlias are set to take centre stage this year (we love a Dahlia), with them being celebrated at RHS Chatsworth, Hampton and Tatton by way of mass plantings of different varieties bringing vibrant pockets of colour to each show.

Hortus Loci’s Mark Straver thinks the summer-loving Echinacea will be big in 2019, while B&Q’s Tim Clapp backs colourful pot bedding and Impatiens (Busy Lizzie) - he would though, wouldn’t he? While garden designers see this type of bedding as amusing kitsch, Straver also tips “posh”annuals in large pots, such as Nicotiana ‘Lime Green’ and Cosmos bipinnatus Rubenza’ and Didiscus caeruleus. The purple heat-tolerant Agapanthus ‘Fireworks’ will also be big, he reckons. Hortus Loci is a fantastic garden centre - they supply lots of great designers - so he’s got his finger on the planting pulse.

This year, there'll a load of retro (and not so retro) classic plants disco dancing their way back into the limelight. Some, like ferns and coloured-leaved plants, never really went away, while others - heathers, for example - are shaking off decades of disdain to reveal their charms once more (heathers are a great winter pollinator friendly plant, so should be planted wherever possible). 

Ferns, once the delight of Victorian drawing rooms, have long languished in the shadows. But this year their greenery is set to be seen as soothing and stress relieving. There are so many wonderful varieties available, not to mention their excellent tolerance of/preference for shade, it’s really no wonder they’re back in the (shade of the) limelight again.

Lots of designers have been experimenting with wildflower and perennial meadows in 2018 and this trend is set to continue  this year. The good news is you don’t need a large plot to incorporate them into your own garden and getting one started really couldn’t be easier. They can take a couple of years to establish properly, but you can mix ‘instant hit’ full sun varieties in with the perennial seeds, so you get colourful results in a matter of a couple of months while the rest develops. It’s great fun choosing your own blend too and there are some fantastic resources and companies online offering sound advice and expertise. Once established, they provide interest from April to late November, with relatively little maintenance (just an occasional strim, in fact!).

This year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show is expected to showcase wild gardens as the latest gardening trend and while lots of people associate Chelsea with painstakingly pruned bushes, flawless flowers and manicured lawns, in 2019 it looks like they’ll be showcasing a number of gardens inspired by wildlife and nature - in its less pampered form.

The popularity of houseplants will continue to rocket in 2019, with the main increase among younger people who either can’t have, or don’t want, an outdoor garden. Matthew Pottage, Curator, RHS Garden Wisley, said recently: “Social media shows that this is a huge and growing trend – hashtags such as #plantsofinstagram and #houseplants are used in their millions and tweets on houseplants often receive thousands of retweets. In daily life I see fiddle leaf figs and Swiss cheese plants everywhere, especially amongst the younger generation who don’t remember the 1970’s houseplant trend.”

This is borne out by retail sales at the RHS which have increased significantly, with Cacti sales rising by 34% in 2018 alone. Plants are often being chosen to improve the environment and purify air, with sales of Spathiphyllum (‘Peace Lily’) - said to be efficient in removing airborne pollutants - increasing by 23% last year.

In terms of design for 2019, we’re being asked more and more to look at asymmetric design, with a focus on less of a structured, looser style, rather than the geometric shaping of the past five years or so. It’s quite a radical departure in fact, with the end result being looser and more relaxed which, in turn, helps people relax themselves in an outdoor space which is more individual to them. For a couple of years now we’ve been hearing more and more people trot out the phrase “Wabi Sabi” (the Japanese concept which encourages us to embrace imperfections, asymmetry and incompleteness), usually at swanky dinner parties for architects and designers. Now though, we’re finally starting to see the concept realised on the ground and expect that trend to develop further in the coming year or two. We like it!

As always, if there’s anything we can help with or you have any questions, please do just get in touch.

The Lancasters Team