Summer Garden Trends

Top trends this season across the country include compact berry bushes, fermented foods, tropical plants and more.

Tropic Escape Collection from Costa Farms

Tropic Escape Collection from Costa Farms

Photo by: Image courtesy of Costa Farms

Image courtesy of Costa Farms

A tropical look for your patio or garden is an emerging trend.

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Low-maintenance gardens, edible yards, outdoor living rooms and water conservation: All of these trends reflect movements in the gardening and landscape world that have been developing over the past few years. But what’s next? Susan McCoy, an industry expert who publishes a yearly gardening trends report for the Garden Media Group, shared her insights on current developments across the country that are emerging this summer and will continue into next year.

Turning Your Yard Into a Tropical Paradise

Lush yards are in. The summer is an ideal time to transform your yard into a tropical oasis. Add some bold colors and an exotic flair to your outdoor space by decorating with tropical flowering plants like hibiscus, mandevilla, bougainvillea and majesty palms. Cluster them together in big groups for maximum visual impact. McCoy recommends a line of palms called Tropic Escape which have “pink, dinner plate-size blossoms on them” and “gives you a good pop-up color.” 

BrazelBerries Raspberry Shortcake Raspberry

BrazelBerries Raspberry Shortcake Raspberry

Photo by: Image courtesy of Bailey Nurseries, Inc.

Image courtesy of Bailey Nurseries, Inc.

A 'Raspberry Shortcake' bush from BrazelBerries.

Boutique Berry Bushes

Many gardeners grow blueberry and raspberry bushes in their yard and garden, but people are discovering that you can just as easily grow compact or dwarf varieties in patio containers for easy access. The BrazelBerries Collection, created by the Brazelton family of Fall Creek Farm & Nursery in Oregon, offers several tasty new breeds. Among their most popular cultivars are 'Raspberry Shortcake', a thornless dwarf raspberry shrub that produces super-sweet berries; 'Jelly Bean', a dwarf blueberry plant that yields little puffballs that taste like homemade blueberry jelly; and 'Peach Sorbet', a compact blueberry shrub with leaves that have a color range of peach, emerald green, orange and pink, and berries that taste like — you guessed it — peach sorbet. 

Smoothie with kale, beets, carrots, strawberries and BrazelBerries Peach Sorbet blueberries

Smoothie with kale, beets, carrots, strawberries and BrazelBerries Peach Sorbet blueberries

Photo by: Image courtesy of Garden Media Group

Image courtesy of Garden Media Group

Smoothie with kale, beets, carrots, strawberries and BrazelBerries Peach Sorbet blueberries

Drink Your Garden

Taking the edible yard and garden trend one step further is the rising popularity of specialty food extractors like the Nutribullet that completely breaks down fruits and vegetables (including seeds and tough stems), transforming it into superfood with immune-system boosters. People are starting to plant more greens in their gardens like kale, spinach and Swiss chard and when it’s harvest time, they grab a few leaves along with some homegrown beets, blackberries or watermelon and place them in their extractor along with any additional ingredients they want like flax seeds, ginger or goji berries. It’s all part of a new health regime that uses homegrown veggies and fruits from your garden for delicious drinks.

Fermented Foods

For years the idea of eating something that had fermented had negative connotations. But now people are discovering that fermented foods are actually good for you and contain beneficial enzymes and other strains of probiotics that help break food down in your stomach and improve your digestion. Not only is it easy to make fermented foods that introduce beneficial bacteria into your body, but it is also a low-cost process and the results are delicious. Try making your own sauerkraut, sour pickles or fermented drinks like kombucha or water kefir and reap the health benefits.

Go Native

There is a huge surge in people buying native plants, native trees and native grasses because they are usually low maintenance once they become established. McCoy says, “If you plant the right plant in the right spot, it will take care of itself. I just put in a huge ornamental grass garden and I know that once they get established I won’t have to do a thing.”

Hummingbird and purple coneflower

Hummingbird and purple coneflower

A hummingbird poised above a purple coneflower.

Nurture the Birds and the Bees

Birds and bees are essential pollinators and there is a growing movement to attract them to yards and gardens. While there are a lot of factors involved in the ongoing demise of honeybees, there are ways to combat it.

People are starting to realize the importance of planting wildflowers instead of just filling their yard with ornamental plants.

You want a yard that attracts birds and insects. “It’s very important,” McCoy stresses, “to have restoration projects that let the native habitats flourish.”

Sun Parasol Crimson mandevilla with white Surfinia petunias

Sun Parasol Crimson mandevilla with white Surfinia petunias

Photo by: Image courtesy of Suntory Flowers

Image courtesy of Suntory Flowers

Sun Parasol Crimson mandevilla with white Surfinia petunias

Chic Containers

This has been a longtime summer trend but homeowners are becoming more innovative in their decorating and chic, sophisticated containers are on the rise. Expect to see more high-end planters and containers in monochromatic colors that transform an ordinary potted plant into an objet d’art. As an example, McCoy described a recent addition to her yard — a red sun parasol mandevilla from Suntory Flowers underplanted with white Surfinia petunias that was showcased in a cobalt-blue ceramic pot. 

To learn about other gardening trends or to get more detailed information on these topics, check out McCoy’s 2013 Garden Trends Report at Garden Media Group.

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