David Wilson of Garden Splendor Shares His Gardening Trends for 2008

Recently, David Wilson, director of marketing for the Garden Splendor brand by Overdevest Nurseries in Bridgeton, NJ, shared with us some of his “gardening trends” for 2008. He receives a great deal of feedback during his time out on the road visiting Garden Splendor retail partners from VA to ME, Pitttsburgh to Montauk. With almost 40 dealers participating in the Garden Splendor program, most of which are progressively minded retail outlets with their finger closely on the pulse of the home & garden world, David finds it extremely helpful and interesting to hear feedback from these garden center owners and managers. See below for some great info from David’s 2008 emerging gardening trends, which he’s gathered from gardeners and home owners across the region and from all walks of life:

“The maturing baby boomers are increasingly aware of health and wellness issues and with the global warning and environmental concerns, we are all attempting to ‘live’ better and see the secure and reassuring surroundings of ‘home life’ as a way to cope with the situation. Many see gardening as a wholesome and rewarding thing to do. But, they are impatient, they want it now, they want it easy, and they want their plants big and looking good. It seems the new trend is to decorate, rather than carry out traditional style gardening. So, easy creative ideas, larger plants and minimal ‘WORK’ seem to be the order of the day.”

Here are some of the things I’ve noticed:

  • Outdoor living areas – still very strong: According to recently released market research from The Freedonia Group demand for outdoor furniture and grills will reach $7.5 billion in 2011. The market will benefit from growth in the number of households and the increasing popularity of outdoor living areas like patios, porches and decks. In addition, consumer lifestyle trends are showing these people are likely to be spending a significant amount of their leisure time at home.
  • Do “SOME” of it for me: Fueled by the HGTV programs (to which my wife is addicted) – curb appeal, landscape design etc. There seems to be a strong demand for experts to do at least some of the project. The D.I.F.M (do it for me) thing of last year, seems now to be morphing into D.S. I.F.M (do some of it for me). People have always wanted help with the time consuming, laborious and technical parts of the project but now there seems to be a very strong demand for the home owner to have input and participation in the projects. There seems to be a very strong and growing demand for gardening consultants / contractors that can provide guidance and support, and undertake the larger part of the project but leave segments for the home owners to do.
  • Foliage color is big: Allied to the above comments, we see a continuing demand for long lasting / weather resistant / easy care plants; so varieties with colorful, season long foliage continue to be getting stronger in demand. It is happening with annuals, perennials and shrubs, too. This is why half of the Garden Splendor perennials earmarked as our showcaseplants for 2008 provide primarily foliage color:
  • Geum ‘Mango Lassi’
  • Lychnis ‘Rolly’s Favorite’
  • Heuchera ‘Peach Flambe’
  • Veronica ‘Goldwell’
  • Clematis ‘Daniel Deronda’
  • Hakonechloa ‘All Gold’
  • Coreopsis ‘Pinwheel’
  • Mukdenia ‘Crimson Fans’
  • Echinacea ‘Pink Double Delight’

  • I want a nice garden – but not the work: The days of the contented, relaxed gardener who accepted (and came to terms with) the chores of weeding, hoeing, mulching, watering, staking and tying etc. as being part of keeping a nice garden is gone now. They have been replaced by home owners who are only prepared to allow a few hours of their cherished weekend time to gardening. Today’s home owners don’t mind walking behind (or riding) on a mower, planting containers, or tending smaller beds in prominent positions, but back breaking work like digging, weeding, or mulching is close to purgatory – so gardens are smaller, container gardening is still expanding and chores like mulching beds is performed less frequently (every second year or third year).

  • Containers, containers, and more containers: Container planting continues to become ever stronger. Potted plants are being placed everywhere in the garden, from highly decorative and classy pots by the front door, patio, deck or around the swimming pool, to troughs and window boxes, roof and balcony gardens. Lately there’s been a swing to positioning containers in borders where the color of the container becomes the focus, and where it is easier to weed and water, and relieve the stress on the knees and back.
  • New and novelty plants are popular: We see the demand for novelty perennials that are showy, shorter, more compact, and longer flowering, too. Newer varieties like Echinacea ‘Pink Double Delight’, Lychnis ‘Rolly’s Favorite’ and Coreopsis ‘Pinwheel’ are good examples. The unusual shaped flowers, the compact habit and all round colorful attributes coupled with the easy to look after nature has made them very popular with Garden Splendor customers.
  • Hardy succulents and bright, warm tones are: For the same reasons, hardy or near-hardy succulents seem to be gaining momentum – the drive for easy-care, long-lasting, deer-tolerant plants seems to be fueling this trend. Color wise, the demand for oranges, mango and the bright, warm tones of the southwest are growing in popularity.
  • Hydrangeas – huge upturn in interest: We have also seen a huge upturn in the interest in mophead Hydrangeas. With the arrival of the ‘Forever and Ever’ series, the interest has really taken off. It seems people were always interested in the period that the long lasting flowers gave, but now with the increased reliability of flowering, the compact and shapely habit and the ease of cultivation, they are definitely winning out over other summer flowering shrubs.
  • Going green moves on to sustainability: The environmental movement, too, is getting stronger and stronger. Everywhere I turn (it seems); I hear the words organic and sustainability. Respect for the environment is here and here to stay; there’s a strong backlash to plastic and artificial things. Home owners are much more aware and careful with the choices they make for their plot, too. With water shortages and concerns about lawn chemicals as of late, we’ve noticed a considerable upswing in the demand for plants that can withstand periods of drought or posses a natural ability to withstand pests and diseases.
  • Well-being, fitness and health issues: Finally, I have seen a steadily increasing awareness of well-being, fitness and health issues. In talking to consumers, friends and customers, there seems to be a lot of interest in a better diet and perhaps because of this there seems to be a strong trend towards growing culinary herbs.

We all know that there’s no place like the garden for connecting with the earth, getting close to nature and de-stressing; it’s a wonderful place to ratchet down to a slower gear, be alone with your thoughts and deal with the pressure of these fast-paced times. Home owners are rediscovering the serenity of their own private sanctuaries, yearning for rewarding benefits that nature provides etc., so its not surprising to see renewed and sustained interest in butterfly and hummingbird attracting plants, water gardening, scented oils and candles, patio awnings and umbrellas, outdoor bars and beverage stations, and even hammocks.

Thanks for sharing those valuable gardening trends with us, David. We’re looking forward to seeing them play out in 2008.

– Sally

Jeff Collard


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