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Berry nice trends for the New Year

The Chinese celebrate New Year’s Eve on February 9, but for most local gardeners, New Year’s Eve is celebrated on Monday. According to Chinese astrology, 2013 is the Year of the Black Water Snake, which is associated with wisdom, thriftiness, ambition and deception.

Whatever your gardening hopes are for 2013, the forthcoming year is likely to reflect its fair share of trends, ideas and fashions. Each year, garden trends forecasters predict what consumers are likely to request from landscapers, horticulturists and retailers in terms of green services and products.

Oxygen for life: Indoor plants are back in fashion for a new generation of gardeners.Strawberries, seen here in a silver colander, are hugely fashionable for gardens in 2013.Water footprint: Reticulating water in an attractive antique water pump feature is one way of using water responsibly in 2013.Eco-scaping: Gardeners are beginning to appreciate which plants are endemic or indigenous to a region, as well as which plants will lure birds and butterflies to the garden.

Here are just 10 of the green trends for 2013 to consider as you walk around your garden this weekend.

Berry lifestyle: The simple pleasure of growing your own fruit, vegetables and herbs continues to be the goal of health-conscious gardeners worldwide. However, the US-based Garden Media Group’s gardening trends forecast for 2013-2014 suggests that berries are the hot new edible plant for the season. The ultimate antioxidant-rich, berry lifestyle should include raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, youngberries and the hot new Scandinavian lingonberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea). Berries suitable for growing in local gardens are already being tested at the Babylonstoren Gardens outside Stellenbosch, where an entire shade house of berry species and cultivars is on show.

Heirloom plants: Connoisseurs of taste are championing the return of heirloom vegetables, which include old-fashioned varieties of fruit and vegetables that have long been lost in the move to shelf-ready retail food. On the vegetable front, organic gardeners promote lemon cucumbers, blue beans, thick-skinned squashes, green cauliflower and dark purple potatoes. On the flower front, antique roses, old-fashioned sunflowers and hollyhocks are cherished by lovers of colourful cottage gardens, as they evoke a mood of old-world rustic simplicity in our stress-filled lives.

Oxygen for life: Indoor plants are back in fashion for an entirely new generation of gardeners. A successful American campaign called Nature’s Air Purifiers, 02 For You promotes the concept of houseplants with a purpose. The campaign has had it biggest impact on young homeowners as it explains that indoor plants will scrub the air clean, add humidity, freshen spaces and, most important, remove carbon dioxide (CO2) and volatile organic compounds released by carpets, curtains and electronic devices into your airspace.

The rise of Winks: In the US, young single women with incomes and no kids (Winks) have become an important influence in the green economy. The Garden Media Group’s report indicates that single women now represent 20 percent of all new home-buyers in the US and represent a third of all growth in real estate ownership since 1994. Winks regard gardening as inspirational, champion handmade products locally produced and, as caretakers of Mother Nature, see environmentalism in the garden as a spiritual quest.

Metallic chic: In 2012, design trendsetters noted the emerging use of metallic bronze, gold and silver as important colours in designer clothing for the fashion industry. Not surprisingly, this design trend is expected to spill over into the garden where sculptures, water features or any art in the garden made from stainless steel, upbeat bronze, tarnished gold or rusted brass will be trendy.

Gardening as therapy: As people strive to be both mentally and physically fit, the value of a garden as an environment for replenishing the soul is becoming increasingly appreciated. Working with the soil and creating a garden is seen as an important way to accelerate healing processes, improve mental health, reduce stress and provide valuable exercise. Flowers are seen to generate genuine happiness, while community gardens are seen to reduce community crime and increase perceived quality of life.

Game on: Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign was launched in 2010 and aims to end childhood obesity by changing food habits and promoting an increase in physical activity for all children. The campaign has inadvertently given new impetus to the turf industry and the development of suburban lawns. The need to create an alternative lifestyle for children away from computer games will increasingly remind parents of the value of lawns as a place for children to play games and get active in the garden.

Water footprints: Following the carbon footprint, a water footprint not only measures the amount of water used in your home, but is a reminder of the value of water. The Garden Media Group report suggests that a potential shortage of piped water for use in suburban gardens worldwide is a reality on account of physical risks (fresh water shortages), regulatory risk (state management) or financial risks (increased cost of water). An awareness of personal water footprints will encourage the installation of hi-tech zoned or drip irrigation systems, water harvesting units, grey water recycling and the establishment of drought-tolerant gardens.

Eco-scaping: Local is still lekker. Gardeners want to buy plants that are grown locally (with a low carbon footprint) that fit into local ecosystems. They also are beginning to appreciate which plants are endemic or indigenous to a region, as well as which plants will lure birds into gardens or provide butterflies with a host plant for laying eggs. Contributing to good stewardship of the Earth is important to environment-conscious gardeners, who will increasingly favour plants and design concepts that encourage birds, butterflies, bees, ladybirds, frogs, toads and even small mammals into the garden.

Unwanted guests: What’s not fashionable this summer? Harbouring any of the approximately 360 invasive exotic plants (out of an estimated 9 000 exotic species growing in South Africa) identified by weed scientists as environmental thugs will no longer be socially acceptable. Check that you don’t have red valerian, Spanish broom, pampas grass or tree of heaven residing happily in your garden this weekend. See www.invasives.org.za. - Weekend Argus

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