Garden Trends 2011: Gardening with a Purpose

by Pam Roy, edited by Bruce Gaudette
February 11, 2011

What’s the latest gardening focus for 2011?  This year, the trends lead, not to the newest splashy foliage or the newest color combinations, but to other focuses.

In 2011, according to the Garden Media Group’s research, we have turned our attention to doing what we each can in our own gardens to have a positive impact on the world.  As individual gardeners, we may not feel we can save the acres of rainforest being bulldozed daily, but we can make a difference in the environment of the world, starting in our own back yard.

Attention is being paid to the impact our individual garden practices have on the environment on a broader scale.  There is increasing recognition of the effects our choices of such things as fertilizers, pest management practices and watering on natural resources.  Increasingly, gardeners are making choices that protect and preserve resources.  In planning landscapes, there is an interest in creating urban green sanctuaries, for our enjoyment and for the benefit of all life.

The term “sustainable practices”  has become less of a trendy buzzword and more of an evolving set of guidelines describing ways in which we, as gardeners can become partners in caring for this planet.

“Ecoscaping” is another trend for 2011.  In gardening with a purpose, gardeners are actively participating in sustainable practices.  Replacing or downsizing lawns with native plants creates sustainable spaces that require less maintenance – and use less water.

Including plants that attract and/or offer food for birds, bees and butterflies create habitat and add life and interest to the garden.  Encouraging pollinators also enhances your gardens chance of abundant fruit and flower production.

There is increased interest in replacing areas of lawn with beds for vegetable and fruit production.  Nationwide we have seen a 20 percent increase in vegetable gardens.  This author stripped up a long narrow patch of lawn two summers ago and has enjoyed a bounty of tasty fresh vegetables and berries from that transformed area.

Yet another trend is edible ornamentals.  Why restrict edibles to a dedicated vegetable garden when they can be worked into the ornamental beds?  This is one of the hottest areas of interest.

And then there is the blueberries trend.  Blueberries next to a dwarf rhododendron?  Why not?  The blueberry will provide seasonal interest year round with flowers, berries, and fall and winter foliage color.

Consider substituting dwarf fruit trees for ornamental cherry trees and enjoy the sweet juicy fruit during harvest season.

According to the Garden Writers of America’s study, many gardeners are doing exactly this.  Sneak in few vegetables, and a few berries into the ornamental beds and enjoy the bonus of fresh very local food.

Plant edibles in containers and use as a focal point.  Benefits of home crops include better taste, better quality and better nutrition.

Plan now, to do what you can to make a difference in your garden this year.  Consult a professional garden designer if you’d like some guidance on putting more purpose into your garden.

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