By Kimberly Labno, Penn State Extension Master Gardener Coordinator and Master Gardener since 2008
Gardening has become a way of life in the popular culture of the United States.Accordin to the National Gardening Association’s new survey, “The Impact of Home and Community Gardening in America,” finds a 19 percent increase from 2008 in the number of Americans planning to grow their own food. Whether new to the gardening world or seasoned horticulturalists, gardeners are always innovating and exploring new ways to connect with the natural world. Here are some trends to look for in 2012:
1. More front yard gardens
The number of front yard gardens is also on a steady rise (29% in 2011, compared to 27% in 2010 and 25% in 2009), according to the Garden Trends Research Report’s Early Spring 2011 survey (conducted for the Garden Writers Association Foundation). Meanwhile, the number of backyard gardens has taken a 3% hit, down from 50% in 2009 and 2010.
2. Vertical greening
Vertical gardening, green walls and green roofs continue to grow in popularity. The technology and cost associated with these amazing features is diverse and able to fit any gardener’s imagination. A blue ribbon winner from the 2011 Independent Garden Center expo in Chicago was a vertical culinary herb wall fashioned using repurposed pallets – look for more low-cost and ecosensible ways to go vertical in 2012.
3. Hot new cultivars
Hort Couture, a leader in the most tropical en vogue have amazing new cultivars to make your containers dare to be different. The Alocasia ‘Nile High’ variety promises to make a big splash having the look of an African mask coupled with bring orangish-red stems. Other plants to watch for is the new variety of Cordyline ‘Flamingo Road’ and a colorful handful of new Phoriums including ‘Rainbow Surprise’, ‘Apricot Queen’, and ‘Pink Flamingo’.
In general watch for the popularity of dark and black colored varieties that have recently been embraced and have not run their course in popularity. A few examples of this trend are ‘diamond head’ and ‘mojito’ varieties of Colocasias.
4. Backyard beekeeping
Over the last three years more than one in three cultivated honey bee colonies has died nationwide, posing a serious risk to our national food supply. The Rodale Institute believes the answer to saving the bees is the backyard beekeeper.
5. Climate Change — (The biggest environmental story of 2011?)
Gardeners, famers and almost anyone else interested in plants probably noticed the changes in weather patterns in their environs this year. One only has to look at places like Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia to notice roses blooming n December.
Climate change delivered the second summer ever in the US and the year-end report is likely to confirm 2011 as the second hottest year overall (European nations are already declaring that 2011 the second hottest year on record), making this phenomenon the top environmental story of 2011 — and the most important ecological issue facing 2012.