hydrangea

Hydrangeas have become the ‘it’ shrub of the decade.

COURTESY PHOTO

Gardening does more than beautify your landscape.

For me, it is a stress-reliever, a solace, a mental vacation, a source of physical exercise and food for the body and soul. I also like to think that as I’ve grown older — and my knees more rickety — that I’m gardening smarter by simplifying and replacing high-maintenance plants with ones that don’t require my shadow quite so often.

These are trends being tapped into by plant companies like Monrovia. “The garden will be both a haven and laboratory as gardeners seek a respite from the stressful world, and also dive into the flood of new plant choices they’re seeing in garden centers and on social media,” says Jonathan Pedersen, vice president of business development for Monrovia.

“We’re also seeing more interest in flowering shrubs as time-crunched gardeners seek to simplify, and while we’re still seeing lots of color, especially ice-cream hues, patterned foliage is the story for 2018.”

There is new demand for sustainable and social-shareworthy plants as gardening continues to grow as a hobby. Last year 6 million more people took up the activity, Pedersen says. According to a National Garden Survey, 80 percent of those are millennials (ages 18-34).

Among garden trends Monorovia sees in its crystal ball:

1. Roses and rhodies renaissance: Year-round beauty, container compatibility and tales of low-effort/big rewards are making gardeners take a second look at old timey shrubs in general, and the next wave of fuss-free roses and rhododendrons in particular.2. Pitch-perfect pines: Notably fuss-free problem solvers which also offer a distinct personality in the landscape, pines feel fresh and wow-worthy. A new generation of gardeners will use them in inspiring ways.

3. Suburban plant hunters: From heritage fruit trees and “who-knew” annuals, to (always sold out) Itoh peonies and complex topiary, savvy garden-makers are foraging far and wide for the goods to make a landscape that’s bespoke, not cookie-cutter. Look for growers to respond with rare and limited quantity offerings.4. We see a pattern: There’s no denying that plants with foliage patterned with dots, dashes, stripes and slashes have been spotted everywhere. Case in point? A 533 percent increase in “saves” of patterned plants to Pinterest in 2017.

5. Hydrangea mania: Everyone’s much-loved bloomer will cement its “must-have” status as the plant of the decade in 2018 with a slew of new varieties. Breeders have built a better hydrangea — re-blooming, right-sized for pots, simpler to prune, with sturdier stems that don’t flop under the weight of large flower heads and thicker leaves that are more tolerant of heat, humidity, and wind.

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Arts/Special Sections Editor

Special Sections Editor for the Courier

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