by Lynn Jackson Kirk, Public Relations Writer, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, reprinted with permission from the Richmond Times-Dispatch
What does 2015 hold for gardening and outdoor living?
Health and well-being will remain top priorities. No longer is the veggie patch a half-hearted hobby or merely an attractive backyard addition. More and more adults are returning to their roots, passionately committed to nourishing their family with nutritious produce that is organically and locally grown. They aren’t afraid to experiment with fruit and vegetable varieties that support sustainable lifestyles.
Working with — not against — the environment is important, as is knowledge about which plants and trees attract pollinators, filter the air and absorb carbon emissions. Planting and weeding are not viewed as chores, they are hands-on experiences that teach the next generation about environmental respect. They also are opportunities for families to spend quality, stress-free time outdoors, away from digital demands (assuming the devices are left indoors).
New consumer segments are influencing retail trends. Young men are among the top spenders in today’s garden industry.
According to Garden Media’s “2015 Garden Trends Report,” young men in the U.S. spend $100 more than average on garden plants and products. Mirroring America’s demographic shift, there is similar growth among Hispanics who take pride in growing vegetables for their family and friends.
Meanwhile, as boomers age, retailers are turning attention to millennials. Sixty-two percent of millennials spend more time outdoors, and 85 percent rate outdoor rooms as “very important” or “important,” according to the “2015 Casual Living and Apartment Therapy Outdoor Decorating Survey.”
Armed with this consumer research, retailers are marketing ready-made, ready-to-display containers of plants as decoratives for patios and decks. Innovative products and services also support backyard transformations for enviable “garden-tainment.”
Personality extends outdoors. No longer are decorating styles relegated to indoor spaces. Those who prefer contemporary designs will enjoy 2015’s flamboyant color combinations, such as bubblegum pinks juxtaposed with bold teals. Conversely, vintage and traditional decorators will find solace in classic palettes, including natural, rustic and muted hues. In general, gardeners and crafters will continue to actively share inspirations through social media forums. They’ll also creatively incorporate found objects and repurposed items in both inside and outside designs.
Busy lives and smaller spaces will influence plant preferences. With marked decreases in free time and living spaces, people are seeking easy-to-grow, easy-to-control plants. The increasing availability of compact plants works well with apartment and townhouse balconies, while container plants and portable gardens provide sensible options for renters preferring mobility over home ownership.
No-fuss plants are super popular, such as native plants outdoors and succulents and cacti indoors.
Likewise, today’s “ultimate” yard is low-maintenance: no sod, manicured shrubs, chemicals or in-ground irrigation system. Rather, it’s an unstructured habitat where nature rules. Settings are left natural, wildflowers are self-sustained, and woodscapes are appreciated. Perhaps most importantly, wildlife is welcomed and families are nurtured.
Editor’s Note: This article first published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, in January 2015.