How to - Gardening Basics

Six gardening trends to watch and try in 2012

Read what's on our radar and adapt the ideas that inspire you for your own space

4. Extreme green
At the root of most trends is the desire to be as green as possible, in city, suburb and country. Water conservation is just part of it. Other aspects include composting—outside or inside with worms (vermicomposting), choosing native and drought-resistant species, and creating wildlife habitats rather than highly manicured, ornamental gardens. We’re re-purposing, whether it’s captured grey water or used wine barrels and we’re looking to nature and the old ways for answers where modern science has either failed or made matters worse. Many garden centres and mail order companies sell bags of ladybugs, nematodes and even praying mantises for pest control. Furthermore, green, natural fertilisers—made from fishmeal or livestock manure or by-products—are much easier to find now.

5. Gardening in small and high places
As cities become more densely packed and urban sprawl is finally being recognised as a squandering of arable land, high-rise living is going to be a way of life for more and more Canadians. Tower-dwellers are looking to container and vertical gardening to keep those ties to Mother Earth strong, and often this is being addressed by the builders and architects, with green roofs and living walls built right into the plans.

On balconies, tomato plants flourish and fruit upside down in plastic bags or pots. With enough sun exposure and access to the indoors in winter, even exotic tropicals are bearing fruit: oranges and figs. Living roofs are so much more than a few pots dotted about the terrace: the whole roof is alive with soil, mosses and groundcovers. They’re beautiful and provide natural insulation against the heat and cold. Living walls are calming and all those breathing plants clean the air of impurities and produce lots of fresh, clean oxygen.

6. Winter interest
In this land of ours, where winter drives gardeners indoors for up to eight months of the year, we’re looking more and more to plants, shrubs and trees that provide winter interest. Tall prairie grasses that poke out of the snow, shrubs dotted red, white or orange with berries. These are a visual feast for our eyes and an actual feast for hungry wintering birds.

Evergreens are fantastic for providing colour, shelter and privacy in winter: a stand of cedars next to the house will keep you cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter, and give our winter backyard critters a place to call home.  

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