By Kathy Van Mullekom Daily Press (Newport News, Va.)
Purposeful gardens — habitat, edible and sustainable — have been on the rise and 2014 promises more of the same.
Chemical-free gardens for birds, butterflies and bees remain high on the gardener’s to-do list, and organically grown edibles play their own harvest-to-table role with health-conscious backyard gardeners.
Gardeners are also more cost conscious, turning discarded items like packing pallets into planters, planting from seed and composting kitchen scraps. In fact, composting is the new recycling, according to Peggy Krapf, a member of the Virginia Society of Landscape Designers.
Garden gurus forecast ideas for fun and purpose in the garden for 2014:
10 gardening ideas for 2014
1. Manly moves: More masculine colors and styles in home and garden decor are showing up at markets and in stores because more women are becoming the primary income earners and the number of stay-at-home dads is increasing.
2. Garden journals: Master gardeners across the United States are using Nature’s Notebook (www.usanpn.org/natures_notebook), an online program to track bloom times, make calendars and track data on climate changes.
Gardeners can also use phenology information, seasonal changes in plants and animals from year to year, to understand the relationships between garden pest outbreaks and timing of the plant phenology to apply pest management strategies.
3. Edibles and more: Integrating edibles into woody ornamental and perennial gardens is a cultural shift, not a trend; neither is planting native species to benefit bees and other insects, recycling objects into creative plant containers and sharing ideas on Pinterest to inspire others to garden.
4. Bees matter: Saving our pollinators is big and getting bigger. Organic farmers have been all about this for a while, but now the public is becoming aware of the desperate state of affairs.
Home gardeners need to learn about: keeping blooms coming; easy and quick-growing cover crops that can fill a space to provide excellent habitat; and how to let go of chemicals, even certified organic pesticides can be harmful to bees.
5. Container craze: Containers can spice up a yard without a lot of cost and effort. Bamboo stems, upside down brooms or even twisting, turning branches can be painted and inserted into pots within evergreens or annuals.
Smart Pots are lighter and cheaper than ceramic containers; the large, raised-bed size acts as its own weed-block when placed on the ground and provides a temporary garden space.
The weave of the fabric allows a dense root system because you can air prune roots that come to the surface. Order on Amazon or www.smartpots.com.
The manly gardener may like the look of ammo boxes mounted on ladders, an idea seen in a Denver boutique.
6. Repurpose, reuse: There’s a continued focus on using recycled building materials, and recycled indoor and outdoor garden furniture using repurposed pallets that are stained, painted or left natural.
Create vertical gardens using recycled materials such as pallets, felt pockets and even things like two-liter bottles hung from strings.
7. Keep it simple: Plant drifts of similar or blending colors and mix a single color with white in containers, outdoor fabrics, or furnishings.
Buy quality products, which will last for years, and eco-friendly products with a smaller carbon footprint.
Use slow-growing plants like boxwoods, which live for many years, and natural materials like stone or brick that get more beautiful with age.
8. Perfect plants: Re-blooming and extended bloom plants are hot. Color is paramount. Dwarf and compact plants are in demand. Plants that are less likely to become maintenance nightmares are dominating the market.
Plants that can provide color or interest in multiple seasons enable customers to enjoy their landscape all year.
9. Imperfect’s OK: Increasingly, homeowners are relaxing their notions of what’s “right” in their landscapes to embrace seasonal drama and its disorder.
Weeks of bright daffodils in spring are worth weeks of unmown bulb foliage recharging for next year’s display.
Sequential pockets of summer blooms are enjoyed with no effort to achieve all-over-bloom all of the time.
Brilliant fall leaves are savored with no rush to clean up and winter landscapes are dotted with dried grasses and seed heads left for the birds.
10. Chicken chic: Chicken-keeping continues to attract more who want fresh eggs for their table and chickens for backyard buddies.