Brian Minter: Gardening has never been more popular among younger generations


Worldwide, the number of people engaged in gardening, especially those in younger generations, has never been higher.

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As we look ahead to a new year, it’s interesting to note that, in terms of gardening, there’s never been a year quite like 2021.

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Worldwide, the number of people engaged in gardening, especially those in younger generations, has never been higher. This is mainly the result of two things: during the COVID-19 pandemic, folks want to make their personal environments more comfortably green, and they want to be a lot more self sufficient by growing their own food.

Canada does not track garden trends, but in the U.S., the National Garden Bureau and other entities watch the latest consumer gardening trends and share them with the gardening industry. Here are some of the major home and garden trends expected to play out more fully in 2022.

The gardening community has become far more environmentally conscious. Restorative and sustainable gardening are very important. People are also expecting the places where they shop for plants to share these values.

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Adding more houseplants to indoor living spaces is still important, especially in terms of the significant health benefits. Many of today’s gardeners are plant aficionados, intent on searching out those uniquely different plants and collector varieties.

Creating pollinator-friendly gardens is a trend that has stuck and has taken on a greater sense of urgency. This means not only purchasing plants that produce both pollen and nectar but also growing a selection of plants that do so on a year-round basis, or in colder areas, as early and as late in the season as weather allows. Establishing wildlife habitats in our gardens is now a big issue.

Outdoor tropicals, such as hardier palms and bold looking, but tender, red foliaged bananas, are becoming more dominant, especially for planting in containers. Tropical flowering plants, like hibiscus, mandevillas and lantanas, are very much in vogue. Moving inside plants outside for the summer is also a big thing.

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Container gardening has taken on a whole new dimension. Uniqueness and creativity are no longer limited to just personal enjoyment but are part of the whole social media scene and the sharing of ideas with others. From flashy, new focal points and unusual contrasting colour combinations to using different plants and plant accessories, like driftwood stakes, all these things enrich our creative designs.

These well developed basil and lettuce blend plants are excellent choices for home gardens. Photo: Alexandrah Pahl, Tourism Chilliwach.
These well developed basil and lettuce blend plants are excellent choices for home gardens. Photo: Alexandrah Pahl, Tourism Chilliwach.  Photo by Alexandrah Pahl Tourism Chilliwa /PNG

Not being hung up on every little garden detail is a big part of today’s vibe. Carefree gardening is here to stay. Folks are now looking for plants that require far less maintenance and have greater tolerance for disease, insects and weather. Most savvy gardeners are opting for flowering plants that have self-cleaning flowers, longer bloom times and are more compact. Today’s gardens don’t have to be perfect to be enjoyed and appreciated.

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Garden versatility is becoming huge. Growing greens, like lettuce, in eavestroughs fastened to the south- or west-facing walls of garages or fences is brilliant. Using tall bamboo as stakes or formed into tripods, for growing climbing beans, peas, cucumbers and other trailing vegetables is smart on many levels. In today’s gardens, there is less distinction and segregation between fruits and vegetables. They are now being combined in creative ways. Garden art, like vintage pieces, is finding a place in many of today’s gardens.

Shopping local is definitely trending. Garden stores of all types, stocking new and exciting plants and plant products, are more popular than ever, as well as being more inventive and creative. A couple of years ago in Portland, Oregon, I visited some eclectic neighbourhood garden shops, and it was a very unique experience. Looking at rare plants and wildflower seed bombs, while chickens wandered about, was kind of charming.

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It’s very enlightening to discover why folks have developed an interest in gardening. The No. 1 reason, according to multiple garden surveys, is the health benefits derived from the lowering of stress levels. Next in importance was spending time with family outdoors. These two responses represented almost half of the survey’s results. Creating a more beautiful environment and growing one’s own food were reasons given by about one-third of those surveyed.

The largest demographic increase has been in young women and men under the age of 35, and surprisingly, young men represent the largest increase of new gardeners. More than 80 per cent of young folks now think gardening is cool, and in the coming year, about 62 per cent indicated they will plant more than in previous years.

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Other evolving trends are the desire to create more privacy and the wish to reconfigure patios into entertainment centres that are able to accommodate larger groups of family and friends outdoors. Front porches have become centrepieces for displaying creative designs and stunning containers.

It seems that our COVID world is not going away anytime soon, so our homes will remain the hub of where we spend most of our time. The importance of patios and gardens will continue to grow as we spend more time outdoors. From creating beauty, growing food, attracting pollinators and enjoying nature, our garden spaces are increasingly more personal and significantly more important.

I would like to wish all fellow gardeners, whether new or old hands, a very healthy and Happy New Year.

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