This year’s gardening forecast: short stuff, indoor greenery

Winecraft Black smokebush stays six-feet tall or less. PHOTOS: Proven Winners

We gardeners can feel très chic this year. Haven’t you heard, dahlings? The colour of the year, declared by the Pantone Color Institute, is Greenery. It’s described as “a fresh and zesty yellow-green shade that evokes the first days of spring…”

Designers – of fabrics, fashions and interiors – often look to the colour of the year in coming up with their new creations. So I guess we don’t have to worry about the leaves in our hair and our grass-stained clothing – they’re simply a style statement, my dears.

What to watch in 2017

January is the traditional time when garden writers look around and report on the trends that are developing in the art and science of gardening. Here are a few that I’ve found that will likely have some impact on what you buy and what you grow.

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Lemony Lace sambucus brings a shot of gold to the garden.

1. Little plants – small and dwarf varieties – will be big stuff outdoors. A flock of mini versions of our favourite should be hitting the seed catalogues and garden centres this spring. Smokebush/Cotinus generally tower up to 10 feet, but the new Winecraft Black cultivar is advertised to max out at four to six feet. 

If you love the fountain of flowers produced by the old monster bridalwreath/Spirea, look for little Wedding Cake, which should make a compact shrub 3½ feet high. And the Invincibelle series of hydrangeas have a sweet white form called Wee White that will stay a manageable two-and-half feet.

Scaled-down versions of veggies, too, are predicted to be available this year, even compact berry plants like BrazelBerry.

2. House plants are having a revival, especially with the short growing season we have in Canada. Old stand-bys like philodendrons, jade plants and sanseveria/mother-in-law’s tongue are bringing green life indoors. People are still going crazy for cute little succulents, and some folks are experimenting with indoor herbs. I find the succulents easy – if they dry out, they pop back right away. Herbs, not so much.

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Indoor plants like this lemon scented-leaf geranium are becoming more popular.

3. People everywhere are having a love-fest with trees. And why not? They’re good for our mental health, letting us escape from the everyday grind. They act as natural sound, sun and privacy barriers. They even add to the value of our homes. (The only drawback is coping with Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation rules…but that’s another story.)

4. Food plants, of course, are still trending upwards. Lots of us are tired of the perfect-looking, tasteless produce in stores. And many of us are suspicious of genetically-modified food and pesticide contamination. We’re turning to growing our own and seed swaps so we can get back to the root of things.

5. More gardens will be glowing with gold, as new plant varieties and even garden accessories touch with gold appear. This trend will be a big help to our shady, even sometimes dark, Beach gardens. Sunny yellow cushions, chairs and accent pieces can brighten dark corners and draw people in. And one striking plant, like Lemony Lace Sambucus/elderberry can hold the spotlight all by itself. Just don’t overdo it with the gilded touches, or your garden will be a screaming mess, rather than a welcome retreat.

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