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GARDENING TRENDS FOR 2019
by Leonard Perry
by Leonard Perry

email: lpperry@uvm.edu

In extension I serve as an advisor and consultant to the greenhouse and nursery industry, primarily in Vermont but throughout the region and beyond as well.

I give presentations on my research to the industry, and to home groups. In Research, my focus is "herbaceous perennial production systems".

His website is at http://www.uvm.edu/~pass/perry/index.html  Leonards zone of gardening: home with my trials, generally USDA 4a. Campus in Burlington is 5.


January 27, 2019

Each year for about the past couple decades, experts from the Garden Media Group (www.gardenmediagroup.com)-- a marketing firm for the home and garden industry— identify key gardening trends for the coming season. For 2019 they’ve pegged eight of these, based around the overall theme of people reconnecting with the natural world.

Gardening is one way many are “awakening” to connect with nature, often to combat work, stress, and excessive internet time. The report authors state that through this awakening, people will become new environmentalists awakened to our responsibility to save the Earth.

“According to author Michael McCarthy, a modern-day Rachel Carson, finding joy in nature will help save the environment, and in turn, save us.” The report describes this as a trend from self-care, to care for Mother Earth; a trend from “Me” to “She”.

More people are gardening, and gardening more, than ever before, according to the National Gardening Association’s annual survey. Many of these are the Millennial demographic (also called "Gen Y", being those born roughly between 1981 and 1996).

“Average households set a spending record of $503—up nearly $100 over the previous year. Almost a third of all gardening households were those 18 to 34 years old—another record.” Within gardening, one of the hottest trends is sustainable landscapes using native plants.

The first of the specific trends pegged for 2019 is termed the “Indoor Generation.” This generation consists of nearly 90 percent of people worldwide who spend at least 22 hours a day inside. Americans spend most of their time (93 percent) either indoors or in vehicles. Children spend less than one hour daily outside, which is 50 percent less than their parents did as children.

The result of all this time inside is higher rates of obesity, cholesterol, and mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and insomnia. Yet there is hope, as the indoor generation adds nature indoors, in the form of houseplants. Last year, 30 percent of households bought at least one houseplant, with terrariums, cactus plants, and tropical plants among top sellers. Previously considered old-fashioned, houseplants have become the new connection with nature, with about one third of purchases by Millennials.

“Screen Age” is what the second trend refers to—too much time in front of computer screens and similar devices, an addiction that can cause physical and psychological problems. “Blue light from screens can cause lack of sleep, obesity, stress, and depression.” One of the facts from this trend report is that adults now spend, on average, 11 hours a day looking at screens, and checking their phones every 10 minutes.

To counteract the “screen age”, gardening is recommended, especially for younger generations. It can teach so many skills and habits, from responsibility to patience, trust, confidence, and good earth stewardship. Several means to engage youth are given, including choosing colorful fruits and vegetables, and planting containers with kid-friendly plants such as compact berry plants.

The third trend— “Golden Hearts”—refers to “the new environmentalist…looking for fulfillment outside of themselves and turning to caring for the earth.” A study by Unilever found that worldwide, about one-third of people “choose brands for their social and environmental impacts.” Volunteerism among Millennials set a record, beating the national average.

Generation Z—those born after the Millennials in the late 1990s and early 2000s, roughly 12 to 21 years old—are becoming the new environmentalists. They’re involved in environmental movements, and are choosing schools based on sustainability.

“Root to Stem”, as the fourth trend is called, refers to waste that has ended up in landfills previously, now being “upcycled” or eliminated entirely. It can be as diverse as brewery grain flour or plastic straws. “Zero Waste”, “Recommerce”, and “Conscious Consumption” are other terms for this trend. Globally, one third of all food is wasted each year. Each American wastes 4.4 pounds daily, or the weight of a 22-foot U-Haul truck each year. Only nine percent of plastics are being recycled, with 8 million metric tons dumped into the oceans each year.

In response to the 500 million plastic straws discarded daily, plastic bans are spreading nationwide. Major corporations are committing to products such as single-use plastics, and practices such as zero-emission deliveries. At homes, composting is the “new recycling”, and can reduce household waste by up to 40 percent. Food is the largest waste in landfills, “more than diapers, Styrofoam, and tires combined.”

“Silence of the Insects” refers to global insect collapse, why this is important, and techniques to reverse this fifth trend of 2019— defensive gardening, and changing habits. This trend is dangerous, according to a Harvard biologist, as “insects are the foundation of our ecosystem.” The plight of pollinators is one example, known by many gardeners, with 40 percent—particularly bees and butterflies—risking global extinction. Invasive species of plants and insects are one reason for this pollinator decline. The National Wildlife Federation reports that 42 percent of threatened or endangered species are at risk due to invasive species.

Early detection, rapid response, and preventing the spread of invasives are main ways to deal with this threat. Planting insect gardens; selecting insect-friendly native trees, shrubs, and flowers; adding a compost pile; being mindful of pesticide use; adding a pond or water feature; and letting some of your landscape “go wild” are all means to help reverse the decline of beneficial insects.

“Robo Gardening”—the sixth trend for 2019—refers to the increased use of technology in gardening. High-tech tools can free gardeners from unpleasant or boring tasks, or just make them better gardeners.

Smartphone apps help organize plant information, a solar powered robot can weed whack for up to three hours, wireless plant sensors and sprinkler systems often water more effectively.

Experimental mini drone bees have been 37 percent successful in pollinating flowers. Drones are being used to monitor crops for pests, and to apply controls.

The “Moon Struck” seventh trend refers to our reconnection with the moon, from its appearance on watches to wedding gowns. The saying that “what goes around comes around” applies to moon-phase gardening—the idea of timing planting, pruning, weeding, and harvesting based on moon phases—an idea as old as agriculture itself but being rediscovered. More gardeners are installing moon gardens—those with white flowers or light colors that reflect moonlight such as lamb’s ear, night-blooming fragrant flowers such as evening primrose, and flowers such as nicotiana for night-time or “crepuscular” pollinators.

Finally, the experts note the trend of vintage, cool mint green making a comeback both indoors and out. This “neo mint” is the “new neutral”. If you wonder why this color, the report explains that “this oxygenating, fresh tone of mint harmonizes science and technology with plant life and nature.” In addition to mint-colored accessories and plants, the herb mint is multifunctional— good for of course drinks and cooking, the flowers attractive to pollinators, planted to deter biting insects, and used since ancient times for various healing benefits.

Horticulture, through these eight trends as the report explores, can help solve climate change, stop biodiversity loss, and provide urban eco-system services. Consider which of these you can incorporate into your own gardens, landscapes, and even interior living and work spaces.

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