THE MODERN MINT BLOG
Garden design trends 2019! Welcome to the New Year Modern Minters!
We started writing about garden design trends 5 years ago now, because it felt like a good thing to look at and try to understand how the gardening world was changing or might change. Then I carried on doing it, each January, partly because I work less in winter and so had the time to look, and partly because it became a bad joke.
Each year brought more and more trends that just seemed ridiculous.
If you are desperate to see what the trends have been over the last few years, start here. But to give you an idea, we had trends like….
Mossariums. Mossariums for goodness sake! Instead of growing vegetables?
Painting fences black…. what? That is going to be a trend? For what? Funereal gardens?!
Watering cans as art objects…. why? Why?!?! That’s just sticking an old bit of plastic on a fence! Chuck a pansy in it and call it art? It’s not Giacometti is it? And it is not improving what you already have in your garden to make it look good. Why have a watering can with a begonia in when you can prune a hedge to make it look good….
Really? Are They Really Design Trends?
Suggestions for trends were either too funky to look good, too inappropriate to actually last for long, or just too flash in the pan to bother adding to your garden.
I even got so weirded out one year that I wrote a guide to Alternative Garden Design Trends. It was tongue in cheek stuff, definitely not the sort of thing someone who pays attention to design trends would actually like….
(If you want to know the kind of gardening person who cares about trends, then think a ‘weekend’ Dad, with black glasses, a too young haircut, wearing turned up jeans and owning a £3,000 road bike for commuting to his senior role in marketing.
They would never read it and think – yes! This sounds good! We do need lynx here in the UK!)
Here Kitty Kitty!
Needless to say, looking at garden design trends every year has made me frustrated, as they seem so divorced from actual gardening. Yet I’m drawn back to it every new year, just to see the horror of it all again, like a dog who can’t stop licking at a leg wound.
And yes, moss is still being touted as a trend for 2019. Thank you Mr Wong!
My Thoughts On Garden Design Trends For 2019
I thought I would start by saying what I see in British gardens, the gardens I work in everyday and have done for as long as I remember. Are there patterns that occur again and again?
I think there is.
Which means they are an actual trend (or perhaps they have now become a classic?) because most people have it in their gardens and do it naturally, without the help of a magazine to tell them about it. It is a trend built on learned behaviour from parents and the way they gardened, as well as life and how that pans out – they are gardens built around the time available to work on them.
So here goes, the garden design trends I see in British gardens:
- Lawns. Big green lawns with stripes in
- Fences with nothing on them
- Big patios for big garden furniture
- Conifers for privacy, or as the only trees in the garden
- Stacks of fertilisers in the garage
- A plastic dalek shaped compost heap with grass in it and little else, smelling and not breaking down
- Hosepipes badly coiled up next to the taps in the garden
- Plants in the borders from all over the world
- A paved over front garden for cars
- Blue slug pellets scattered onto flower beds
- Sheds full of stuff. And behind them, lots of black plastic plant pots
- Small pots by the house, with a few scraggly herbs in
- Water butts not attached to the gutter pipe
- Annuals with no forage for bees
- Raised beds with wood starting to rot away, soil diminished and nothing in them
- Dry ponds, or ponds that have been filled in
Wow. Reading that list does not feel positive does it?
But it is what I have seen through the UK, when called in to help someone with their garden.
What Can We Do About These Gardens?
This is where garden design trends do matter and can make a difference. I realise not every single person reading this has a garden as bereft of life as I have suggested above (thankfully!) But for a nation of gardeners, many do have an outdoor space like that, whilst others will certainly have areas they can improve.
So if we go through the list again, we can perhaps make sure we are doing the following:
- Lawns. Making them smaller and full of clover, for the bees to feast on
- Fences with lots of roses, clematis and other great climbers covering them
- Big patios getting made smaller, with pockets built in full of soil for plants
- Conifers getting chopped down and replaced with crab apples, or rowans, or other fine trees
- Stacks of fertilisers in the garage being unused, the addition of fertiliser in the garden replaced by adding compost to the soil instead
- Bigger, open compost heaps of wood or brick with a brilliant mixture of grass, cardboard, stems and other plant material
- Hosepipes unused because the soil is so good it holds water already
- Plants in the borders from all over the world that have lots of nectar and pollen
- Front gardens returned to plant havens (were they ever? Well, start now!)
- Blue slug pellets being banned from use. Disgusting stuff. My father still uses them. I have no idea why
- Sheds full of stuff, as they always will be. Black plastic plant pots reused somewhere, rather than sent to landfill
- A few big pots by the house, fragrant and thriving with herbs and flowers
- Water butts capturing any rain we get, holding it until it is needed
- Annuals bursting with nectar for the bees
- Raised beds filled with organic vegetables that, if you don’t get round to eating them, can be cleared onto the compost heap and all the goodness stored in them can be recycled back into the garden
- Ponds in the garden for wildlife and as a place to store excess water from the water butts
Getting these basic elements of your garden in place, we can change a whole landscape.
Start a garden design trend that relies on your garden being a place of life, of nurture, of beauty. Not an overwhelming zone of weeds, poor soil and bare fences.
Do it by following the examples above, then, when the garden is thriving and you have enough time to enjoy it, you can add your Mossarium and make your watering can art.
You trendy nutcase.
These ideas are presented as the start of my work on a new garden talk for 2019, called ‘A Very British Garden.’
If you would like to find out more about my talks and speaking work, take a look at this page – Garden Club Speaker.
Brought By Bike is an excellent website I found last month, where businesses offer their services by (of course) bicycle. Modern Mint and my topiary work is now live on the site offering my topiary services, via bike, to the following two postcodes – CM1 CM2 Now I can imagine I will need to borrow a ladder should anyone have a larger shrub, but most town gardens in the Chelmsford area have a need not just for privacy but to let light into the house… so a balance must be struck when shaping hedges and shrubs to cover both needs. …
Transforming Topiary – a video made for the European Boxwood And Topiary Society by Charlotte Molesworth and I, in her garden. We take a dog topiary and work out how to update it, turning it into a bird. Worth a watch I think, and hopefully useful to you! You can see more of my clipping on the topiary page. Or read my Spring 2021 Topiary Provocation here.
Phillyrea is one of my favourite plants for topiary. I have been using it for quite a few years as a specimen shrub, mostly due to the fact it clips well and has a tough habit – all good characteristics for a topiary plant. It also has a reputation for being an excellent nectar source for bees… Read more about Phillyrea here. Mentioning this to Malcolm Thicke, a market garden historian and writer, he sent me a some photos of topiary and phillyrea mentioned by John Worlidge in Systema Horticulturae from 1682…. incredible! He also mentioned to me that in …