Gardening Trends

In 2012, the garden is the place to be – and gardens will be everywhere. The modernist use of courtyards to integrate indoor and outdoor areas is back in a big way. Courtyards are opening up everywhere, from the centres of suburban homes to city centres. Gardens continue to blend with architecture in other ways, too. First they covered roofs, then walls. Now they’re hanging from the ceiling – the hanging garden is back with a plethora of innovative variations – from Sky Planters to window farms. Hanging gardens are a heartening symbol of nature and humanity, plants and cities, in harmony. Continuing on the indoor theme, pot plants are back, especially the outsized, bold-leafed indoor plants reminiscent of the 70s, like Ficus lyrata, providing impact and playing with our sense of scale in rooms. Their distinctive geometric leaves seem to be taking the trend for botanicals to simpler, graphic, geometrical extremes. On the flipside, we’re seeing more traditional building structures making their way into the garden. Garden offices were a major trend at the Chelsea Flower Show. Garden designer Marney Hall’s Skyshades garden included a garden studio and horticulturalist Nigel Dunnett’s RBC New Wild Garden included a shipping container that had been converted into a garden office with a green roof. Architecture is becoming integrated with gardens in other ways, too. Pavilions are springing up everywhere. And other traditionally indoor decor items (and art) are sneaking outside too – the mirror especially. Whether it’s to create the illusion of space, to add complexity to simple patterns through repetition, or simply to capture the surrounding sky, the extended view, or the patterns of branches, reflective surfaces are being hidden everywhere in gardens. And in case you thought we’d forgotten about trends in good, old-fashioned planting, 2012 has some exciting ideas in store there as well, not least of which is the burgeoning popularity of black flowers. From the velvety petals of black petunias to the black-budded ‘Black Pantha’, a dark agapanthus, expect the darkest blues, purples and browns to appear layered for mystique, drama and romance. Text: Graham Wood Image credit: Elsa Young