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2015 – Back to the Future in the Garden!

2015’s here, any surviving Turkey’s can breathe a sigh of relief and I’ve already bagged a ticket for this years Chelsea so now is as good a time as ever to reflect on what direction I see the UK’s £9 billion gardening industry taking this year. Last year’s recession (particularly mine..!) has undoubtedly had a major influence on how we use our gardens, what we spend on them and indeed how we view them as part of our daily lives. An obvious reaction to this austerity has been the surge in popularity of the ‘grow your own’ movement but a less obvious and slightly concerning one (it was on yesterday’s Radio 2 Jeremy Vine show – so it must be true…) is the growing prediliction for burying Granny and Grandpa (once they’ve passed on of course!) under the apple tree alongside their beloved Fido and Tiddles!

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Thankfully I’ve yet to be asked to build a garden ‘of rest’ nor unearthed anything larger than Fido and Tiddles (deceased) whilst digging in customers borders, but there has certainly been much more interest in having defined areas of the garden for growing food and cut flowers. Which fits in nicely with the general theme of house owners wanting to produce their own delicious food (particularly more interesting vegetables than potatoes and carrots!) and encourage the kids to put their ‘devices’ down and get outside and commune with nature. For those who are fortunate enough to not have to worry about growing ‘ones’ own the addition of a swimming pool and spa remains a popular lifestyle choice – together with the essential pool house and entertaining areas.

For the rest of us who have to pop down to the local Leisure Centre to have a splash around there has been a significant shift towards more natural, ecologically sound garden layouts utilising native trees and plants – which sit far better in our landscapes than often beautiful, but non the less ‘alien’ species. DIY meadows continue to rise in popularity and with the availability of wildflower turf pre-planted with the right combination of plants for your particular requirements means that a lot of the guess work is eliminated and you can be guaranteed a buzzing hive of activity in just a few short weeks!

The photograhs show one I made in a garden in Dorset which had the benefit of being adjacent to a river and is now home to a myriad of wildlife including bees, butterflies, water voles and grass snakes:

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Our new found obsession with all things wild and wonderful will continue to gather momentum as will the ‘nostalgia’ effect which will see ‘complicated’ and difficult plants being replaced with more simple and ‘old fashioned’ flowers reflective of our childhood. Dahlia’s and chrysanthemums had a great year in 2014 – largely due to strong marketing and I think this year the same resurgence will happen with the likes of fuschias, gladiolus, canterbury bells and carnations. Equally single flowers which allow easy access for pollinators (and look pretty good too!) will continue to rise in popularity, but I think the big shift will be towards planting schemes that make more use of shrubs – a plant neglected and largely consigned to more ‘municipal’ schemes for too long. Welcome back you shrubs to the gardening ‘inner circle’!

Natural stone (locally sourced ) will continue to be the hard landscaping material of choice – particularly when fashioned into features such as curving dry stone walling or retaining beds. Recycling appropriate materials – be it industrial artefacts or paving from reclamation yards is set to rise in popularity and as long as someone has the vision (look no further!) to find the appropriate garden use for, let’s say, an old tap, then it’s a win, win situation for everyone!

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Jonathan Wild

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