‘Gardens aren’t just for looking at’ – Prolific garden designer predicts trends for 2022
Sustainability, recycling and the use of native plants are going to be trends which gardeners will be pursuing in 2022, experts are predicting.
Award-winning garden designer and TV presenter Ann-Marie Powell says priorities have changed since lockdown.
“It’s about people wanting more layers in their garden. Pre-lockdown, people wanted something nice to look at. Post-lockdown, people want to have something that’s beautiful to be in.
“People have realised gardens aren’t just for looking at. They are places that enable you to do something good which makes you feel good, creating a space that’s not only beneficial to you but beneficial to the environment as well.”
Embracing all seasons
“I think we’ll be adopting a new way of thinking about seasonality,” predicts Andrew Duff, managing director of the Inchbald School Of Design.
“In the past, we’ve tended to see autumn as the end of the year and the garden going to bed. But perhaps due to lockdown, people are seeing how exciting winter is and are beginning to embrace it.
“It’s to do with acceptance. In winter, we are realising that the branches of the trees, the strong sunlight and the bare soil is an important aesthetic in our calendar. It’s the skeletal nature of winter.”
Striving for fewer air miles
“Lots of people will want elements of grow-your-own and are keen to find out about food provenance,” says Powell. “The vegan movement, healthy eating and wellbeing, organic and no-dig – all those elements are much more in people’s psyche. People want to know where plants come from, that they are chemical-free and haven’t travelled for thousands of miles.”
“A trend which is coming through is our acceptance of native species,” says Duff. “We are finally waking up to the glory of our native plants, which work well in our changing climate. They do so much for our native wildlife and we are seeing that come forward.”
Powell reckons more gardeners will be growing ornamental veg within their flower beds rather than in a vegetable patch.
“Often people are wanting a muddle of productive plants as well as beautiful perennial plants. Things like cardoons, artichokes, we grow them as beautiful ornamentals and it’s the same with apple trees. Lots of plants that you would grow as ornamentals are edible.”
“With hard landscape, upcycling and recycling will continue,” Duff predicts. “Gravel is being embraced because it’s in everyone’s budget and it offers a more natural feeling to the garden as plants self-seed and spread to the gravel, presenting a softer aesthetic.”
“Rewilding will continue apace and we are keen on that because every time you plant something it helps towards changing the world in some shape or form. Plants lock in carbon, attract pollinators and create habitat. It’s curated wilding,” Powell explains.
“If you create pools of planting in among natural landscape where you are planting a mix of grasses and single flowers, which are the plants pollinators love to feast on, they are like nectar bars – areas of loose landscape with no intervention and pools of planting amongst it.”
She recommends using grasses such as Pennisetum ‘Fairy Tails’, miscanthus and anemanthele (pheasant’s tail grass).
“It’s curated wilding, of as large an area as you can, so you’ll be managing those areas in amongst the unmanaged areas. But it creates peaks of colour among scrubby, grassy, brambly areas.
Ponds will be popular
“People really want water in their gardens for the same aesthetic and beneficial wilding project. If you have water in your garden, wildlife will come because they need to drink,” says Powell.
More ‘lasagne planting’ in small spaces
“Container gardening will continue but people will be trying to extend the season of interest,” Powell predicts. “Sarah Raven put the bulb lasagne (where bulbs are planted in layers and flower at different times) into people’s minds a few years ago and people with container gardens are really understanding that.
“It’s not just about appreciating the flower, it’s about that flower inviting company to your balcony or window box to allow you the space and time to watch nature up close and personal.”
Giving houseplants outdoor space
Horticultural influencer Michael Perry, aka Mr Plant Geek, says: “There is the upcoming trend of using houseplants outdoors, directly into pots mixed with the usual summer flowering plants, or in borders and hanging baskets. The perfect candidates are spider plants, tradescantia, and perhaps even a specimen monstera. It’s the perfect way to gravitate indoor plant enthusiasts to the great outdoors, even if they just have a window box.”
The buzz word is sustainability
“It’s all about reduce, re-use, recycle. We are looking at trying to keep sites as neutral as possible with regards to taking things out of the garden. It might be crushing concrete that has come out of a sub base and re-using it as a new footpath,” says Powell.
“People will be thinking, ‘What have I already got that I can re-use?’ It might be a coal bucket or the inside of an old washing machine drum. On Instagram, I have seen people using the trays that grapes come in for growing seeds. It’s not just about the aesthetics, it’s about practicalities.”
“We call it ‘dine and recline’, where your garden becomes like a lounge, but I think people are wanting things that are a bit more quirky than rattan. I’ve started looking at steel which has a reclaimed vintage vibe to it. That will last forever. You can just throw a blanket over it,” says Powell.