Many of the key garden design trends from a recent SGD survey pointed towards sustainability in the garden:
Vegetables are what every garden owner wants this year. A fruit and veg area is specified in almost every commission as growing-your-own moves from optional extra to essential. Even the most formal design has a space for vegetables, with such ornamental edibles as beans, globe artichokes, chard and fennel taking their place alongside this year’s other ‘must haves’ - boldly coloured and strongly scented roses, herbs, hydrangeas, lilacs, flowers grown for cutting and alliums. Herbs remain perennial favourites and more people are now also growing fruit - especially espalier varieties
Wildlife friendly gardens are important – as long as they attract the ‘right’ wildlife: Squirrels, deer, foxes, mice, moles and an awful lot of insects, including the dreaded Rosemary beetle fall into the ‘pest’ category of wildlife. “Frogs, toads, newts, worms and most birds are on the ‘ticked’ list,” she says.
Just as gardens and gardeners are working harder, plants too are chosen because they are good performers. Most of all however garden owners want to know how to care for the plants they choose. Low maintenance is a key decider, particularly in a fast paced world where expert gardeners are in ever-short supply. “Where are all the skilled gardeners?” is a constant refrain.
Colour in the garden is often aligned with catwalk fashions and many SGD members report a return to favour of hot oranges, earth tones with fire and rich deep vermilions and purples. Contrasts such as white and dark blue being requested too and for those whose garden is a place of rest, cool colours are on the increase.
The environment is on every garden owner’s mind. “Sustainability is no longer something we just talk about,” says Ann Soderberg. “The main requirements are SUDS – reuse of grey, rain and surface water, smaller domestic windmills, biofuels, ground-source heat pumps and photovoltaics.” Locally sourced materials and plants are high on the list, as well as composting and porous front gardens. Indian sandstone is on the way out along with patio heaters.
Lighting is still in demand even in these environmentally aware times.
Recycling existing materials is on the increase too but there’s still some way to go as it can be difficult to find recycled materials to use.
Fragrance and the powerful link with memory is another big theme of 2008. Fragrance is set to become an important element of the garden and plants which give off their fragrance in the evening are sure to gain in popularity in the coming year as people work longer and longer hours.
Clients are becoming ever better informed. Magazines remain a big influencer, as well as television gardening programmes and the Internet is becoming vital for research.