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  • Cleve West won 'Best in Show' for his show garden at the 2011 Chelsea Flower Show for a garden that featured plants that will self-seed and naturally modify the garden with time. It is loose and natural but clearly a cultivated space.
  • This garden wall is a unique and personal collection that reflects the tastes of the garden's owner.
  • Jinny Blom's Corrour Lodge is a modern twist on the classic Scottish shooting and hunting lodge. The circular pool set in a meadow of native plants.
  • Jamie Dunstan's chelsea 2011 Garden exhibits stylish wind power from recycled turbines, a fence made from an old gym floor and other upcycled ideas for a 'green' garden.
  • Large sweeps of color created by plant groupings are characteristic of the Piet Oudolf 'look'.
  • Container plantings evolve to become more sophisticated and textural.
  • Monochromatic plantings are stylish sleek.

Trends are such a funny thing to try and keep track of. It seems that often, just as something becomes an obvious movement, it fades as fast as it came on. Some trends are big ideas and some are little but their translation can define a design era (think pea soup green and the 70's). Gardening and design trends that I see right now are a bit of all of these. I have to admit I love trend spotting, it is a personal challenge to make a call early that will come to fruition in 6 months, 9 months, or if I am really good, maybe even a year's time. These are the ideas that I see on the rise in 2011 and 2012.

Meadows and the chipping away of the perfect lawn mentality.

I read a story recently about a woman who planted a beautiful meadow in a common garden area between her home and her housing development neighbors. It was a beautiful horticultural and design success. But, the whole thing made everyone very uncomfortable. Her efforts were geared (in her opinion) towards greater beauty, water and maintenance savings, and diversification of species to help bees, butterflies and other wildlife. While she achieved all of that, the neighbors feared the planting, thought it devalued their homes, and preferred grass and hyper-pruned shrubs. In the end, they banded against her anarchistic ways, and they mowed it down, sodded it over and installed a sprinkler system to keep their patch of green alive. I tell this story because I think there is a trend for the woman to become more and more likely to win a little battle like this. Maybe not tomorrow, but slowly and surely, weeds, wild flowers, plant diversity, and the beauty of nature are on their way up. The hyper controlled vision of what is clean and organized is changing in general, and I think that looser plantings, and gardens that work with nature and resemble nature (but personified and heightened) will become more popular as we learn how to tax our environment less .

Democratized gardens

More and more people are turning towards gardening as a hobby and as a necessity. Often it is in an effort to grow their own food, return to a simpler way of life or participate in a greener lifestyle. With this increase, I think a greater level of garden democratization will evolve and as more people and people with fewer resources jump in, garden spaces that are personally meaningful and special will evolve. I hope and expect that we will see less and less celebration of the purely designer designed spaces and more of the quirky true expressions of unique individuals.

Native is nice, but we can think twice.

Native planting has been a gardening trend for the last few seasons, but I think as this trend evolves it will mature and we will realize that not all natives are great garden plants and strict adherence to this point is not really the point. Attitudes of those who are hyper focused on natives will start to converge with those that aren't and both with benefit. In general the focus will continue to shift and a new importance will be given to 'right plant, right place'. We are becoming smarter about the needs of a garden and an ecosystem and what healthily works within both. This won't always mean native, but will mean thoughtful plant choices that require less water, less chemicals, and which will contribute to the greater landscape system.

Wabi-Sabi and The Big Sweep

Less on the big idea side and more on the 'look and feel' of garden design in the current moment, are the ideas of Re-use and Upcycling with an encouragement of vintage pieces and re-purposed items. It is an easy mix with a Wabi- Sabi (finding beauty in the imperfect) sensibility. Also I think big statements in planting will continue to emerge. Fussy plantings with lots of different things will give way to big sweeps of not just 3 or 5 of a plant but where there is room, 9 or 12 of a particular plant. Single color plantings will gain popularity and container plantings will continue to refine and become more textural, seasonal and will adopt a more sophisticated simplicity.

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