Lifestyle changes brought on by the pandemic – including the collective switch to working from home and the consequent desire to spend more time in our “garden rooms” – are driving this year’s key indoor and outdoor trends, according to experts speaking at a global webinar held in December 2021 and organised by Israel-based plant breeder and propagator Danziger, writes Rachel Anderson.
The current indoor and outdoor lifestyle trends have developed during a time when “landscape has come to the forefront.” Phil Steinhauer, CEO and landscape architect at Designscapes, Colorado (USA), made this statement. He revealed that the company received a record number of calls last year (2021) due to gardening’s explosion in popularity – with 16 million people taking up gardening in the US in 2020, for example. “I think that’s partly because people are realising the health benefits, both mental and physical, that landscape can provide. And I also think they are looking at it as an investment in their property,” said Steinhauer.
The landscape architect noted that his customers have been looking for “gardens with purpose,” for example, outdoor rooms in which families can cook, play games, and/or utilise as an office. “People are looking to use every square inch of their backyards. They are much more deliberate about how they are using that [outdoor] space than they were ten years ago,” he noted – adding that swimming pools are becoming very popular. “With people travelling less, they are building [holiday] resorts in their backyards.”
Steinhauer also informed the webinar attendees that he, as a landscape architect, is working ever-more closely with other professionals such as interior designers and landscapers to ensure that an outdoor space corresponds with a property’s interior space and vice versa.
Steinhauer described landscape architecture and design as visual art – and planting design is the canvas on which he works. With these analogies in mind, plants continue to play an important role in providing a garden’s colour, texture, and shape. Planting trends, therefore, include lots of colours and a wish for bigger trees as people “want that instant gratification,” explained Steinhauer.
Generally, customers are requesting gardens that are easy to care for and yet, interestingly, they are willing to put their time and effort into vegetables plots and orchards. “From patios to rooftop gardens, almost every job I go on now I am putting in a vegetable garden. I have probably seen a 50 per cent growth in that [area].”
Heirloom and unusual vegetable (and fruit) varieties are in demand, added Steinhauer, as are cane and bush fruits (like raspberries and blueberries) and fruit trees – which appear to be so popular that nurseries are usually sold out of them by mid-season.
Plant stylist Maryah Greene, the founder of Greene Piece based in New York City (USA), also noted that fruit trees are popular amongst her clients – so much so that she has a waiting list for these types of trees.
She also discussed some of the planting trends inside the home, noting that hanging plants – namely, “anything long and trailing” – are trendy, with trailing ivy and heartleaf philodendrons being examples of hanging plants; that “people love right now.”
Houseplants with patterned foliage, such as calathea or alocasia, are another trend as consumers are putting them into simple, non-patterned planters so that the plant “can be the star of the show.” Moreover, large plants have become “a piece of architecture” in the home, with Monstera deliciosa (Swiss cheese plant) being Greene’s most commonly asked-for plant last year.
Greene also informed delegates that people are falling into two “camps” – those opting for large statement plants and those who like to buy multiple, smaller plants with which they create their own “mini jungles.” She added that houseplant owners are increasingly implementing plant watering (and overall plant care) schedules as they are now more aware that different plant varieties have different needs.
The plant stylist advised those who sell and grow houseplants to display them based on their needs (such as how often they need watering) or their style by grouping long, vining plants together. Greene also noted that planters that are a few inches larger than the plant’s pot are ideal because the pot will likely be replaced in future as and when the plant grows.
Peggy Van Allen, president of Color Marketing Group, discussed some of the colours in the group’s world colour forecast for 2022. The forecast, she explained, considers global and regional politics, economies, and human behaviours to develop colour “stories.”
One of the prominent colour stories for this year is named Communities of Change. The colour anthropologist and designer explained: “As a consequence of the pandemic, we turned to our local communities for supplies, support and inspiration.”
During the Covid-19 crisis, she added that we learned to stay connected through both our local and digital communities. Therefore, communities of Change epitomises this duality – “the kind, gentle colours that represent the geographical community, the local markets, human support… and then the more saturated, tech-influenced colours.” This story incorporated colours such as yellow, grey-beige, lilac, several shades of green, and cream colour. Arguably, this group of colours would sit comfortably amongst a group of houseplants or within an outdoor planting scheme.
And so, as it enters 2022 and continues to help bring more colour to the world, the Danziger webinar provided the global horticulture industry with much food for thought.
This article was first published in FloraCulture International in February 2022.