February means spring is sprouting soon and this year the newest trends and cool plants are being snatched up by younger gardeners — yes, the millennials.
Younger people are digging into gardening but this is not their grandmothers’ English-style perennial garden.
To understand the future garden trends and what interests the next generation of gardeners, you can sneak a peek at the Instagram and Facebook posts of young gardeners and see that there is a seed of passion already growing that will keep our country green and in bloom. The biggest change is that these new gardeners want their garden and to eat it, too.
I interviewed 20-something, award-winning garden designer Courtney Goetz. Together we came up with three big trends driven by the interests of young gardeners in Western Washington:
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1. They want to grow their own food.
That means crops in pots and herbs in windowsills. Unlike their parents, the 30-somethings of 2017 are getting married later, delaying childbirth and not buying homes as early. Apartment life means balcony growing of peas in pots and bush beans in bushel baskets. Indoor edibles — such as parsley, mint and trendy lemon grass —feed not just the apartment dwellers but their friends as well.
This group combines gardening with cooking and entertaining. A crop of ripe tomatoes grown on a sunny balcony is an event worth celebrating with a dinner party. Another reason for the interest in herbs and vegetables is the need to experiment with different ethnic and healthy eating recipes. Note: This year the Northwest Flower & Garden Show held in Seattle has the theme “A Taste of Spring” and will feature a tasting corner or marketplace for gourmet food and drink. All display gardens will also use the edible garden theme as inspiration. Expect to see more young people joining the crowds at the show.
Why this is good news: Anyone who has limited space will benefit from this trend as garden centers offer more edibles in bush or compact varieties. Look for a new green bean called “Jade” from Ed Hume Seeds that gives an excellent harvest in a very small space.
2. They love sedums and succulents.
Those drought-resistant, fleshy-leaved plants are popping up as centerpiece plants inside glass jars and as living wall displays inside chunky frames. The latest trend even includes bridal bouquets made from succulents. The clean lines and easy care of echeverias, hens and chicks, burrow tails and other now-common succulent plants are the perfect design complement to the modern interiors preferred by the newest generation of apartment and condo dwellers.
Why this is good news: More unusual sedums and succulents are available for landscaping and the best-selling author and succulent expert Debra Lee Baldwin has a book out titled “Designing with Succulents” following her previous book for beginning gardeners called “Succulents Simplified.” These low-water-use plants are here to stay.
3. They cherish their houseplants.
The millennials may delay parenting of humans but nurturing pets and indoor plants has taken the place of babies for some in their 20s and 30s. Among young, urban professionals it is common to hear about “adopting” a houseplant, giving an indoor plant a name and bringing it into the office and also hiring plant sitters when this very mobile generation goes on vacation. Houseplants are back in style, but don’t be thinking about frilly pots of African Violets or the spider plants of the ’70s.
The new preferred houseplants are the easier-to-grow orchids, space-saving ‘Lucky Bamboo” (actually not a bamboo but a dracaena) and large statement houseplants such as the fiddle leaf fig with large majestic leaves or spiky dracaena with clean lines and a modern look. Why this is good news: Houseplants are now available for sale in a wider variety and many are more reasonably priced. Orchids that flower longer and adjust to more extreme temperatures are easier to grow and much more available.
So in conclusion: Encourage young people you know to take an interest in gardening. Give the gift of a houseplant, invite them to attend the Northwest Flower & Garden show this month (gardenshow.com) or give a kid a pot of herbs. Our world will always be better with more gardeners. Pass it on.
Marianne Binetti has a degree in horticulture from Washington State University and is the author of several books. Reach her at binettigarden.com.
10 a.m. Feb. 11, “Hot Plants for Early Spring.” Celebrate spring and sign up for a class at Windmill Gardens (windmillgarden.com) with Marianne Binetti to learn what to plant now in the garden. $5.