The conditions of the pandemic brought about so many unexpected changes as we contemplated our way of living and resigned ourselves to being at home more.
It was tough, yet being confined to our home environments also created some healthy changes for many, one being the increased interest in maximising our enjoyment of the outdoors. People in their droves turned to their gardens for refuge and balance - escape from the everyday mundane heightened by lockdowns.
According to Nationwide, from April to June of 2021, garden-related spending dramatically increased by 77% compared to the previous quarter.
Environmentally-conscious green fingers
It may seem to be an unnecessary connection to highlight. Still, with so many new Millennial and Generation X gardeners, the trends toward increased interest in environmentally-conscious outdoor design are unmistakable. So too is our increased need for colour - which is no surprise after the challenging years we have just moved through.
So, with the summer in full swing, let's take a look at what is trending in the world of UK garden design this year.
Ever-increasing climate concerns continue to fuel trends toward biodiversity. In addition, our renewed appreciation for the powerful effects of being in nature is driving gardeners to embrace nature in its purest form. As a result, plant-rich, wildlife-friendly gardens are leading design choices, with a heightened appreciation for a more natural aesthetic, allowing outdoor spaces to feel more authentically rooted in nature.
This return to a simpler garden aesthetic is one of the inevitable trends for 2022, with a low-maintenance, lush and leafy backyard oasis being just the ticket. Evergreens and ferns were particularly popular at the 2021 Chelsea Flower Show, and this preference has spilled into this year's garden designs.
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While some are opting for tranquil greens, others yearn for vibrant colours to offset the recent stresses. The long-standing trends toward pastel and muted tones will not disappear, but they are being largely replaced by planting schemes that favour bolder choices.
According to the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), public confidence is returning, and with it comes a thirst for daring colours such as oranges, purples, and reds. As a result, salvia, canna, and crocosmia are proving particularly popular for 2022.
Bold mixes of colour are also all the rage as we purposely buck more traditional trends for livelier options. Colour combinations like yellows and oranges, coupled with bright purples are so on-trend, breathing new life into spaces with jarring yet complimentary pairings that scream modern aesthetic.
With increased concern for climate change and predictions of longer rain-free periods, planting preferences are also taking a more Mediterranean approach.
The demand for more drought-tolerant plants that flower has increased, including those that attract bees. Perovskia, lavender, and verbena are favourites with our vital bee population. At the same time, shrubs like Santolina chamaecyparissus and Teucrium fruticans are being favoured as alternatives to our traditional box and yew hedges.
Another trending choice is the Semponium 'Destiny,' winner of the RHS Plant of the Year for 2022. With a deep, rich purple colour, this plant is particularly drought-tolerant and great for adding year-round interest with its intense tone.
With the cost of living soaring, the prices of gardening supplies have also taken a hit. The cost of plants increased by up to 13% in 2021, with the Financial Times citing biosecurity checks and Brexit as partly to blame.
As with many industries, these cost rises bring the bulk of demand back to home-grown options, and British-grown plants are benefiting greatly. As a result, back-garden orchards are becoming popular, with a particular focus on a range of apple varieties and trending red produce; gardeners are enjoying experimenting with exotic fruits like chokeberries and pomegranates to bring wonderful tastes and vibrant reds to their gardens.
In addition, the popularity of creating vegetable patches is re-emerging; only now the inclusions go beyond veggies. Finally, keen home-gardeners are increasingly responding to carbon footprint concerns by cultivating their own home-grown flower bouquets and edibles.
Following an organic garden win at Chelsea in 2021, and the nation's ban on peat, eco-friendly and sustainable approaches to garden design are finally taking centre stage. The peat ban was announced due to the vast amounts of carbon dioxide it releases when harvested. The industry has two years to phase it out completely.
In addition, efforts to reduce waste and the use of plastics have been adopted at a national level. To further this cause, a new tax on plastic packaging came into force in April of this year, applicable to any packaging that features less than 30% recycled content. This tax is a fantastic move towards continuing the demand for more natural, ethically-sourced, and recycled materials.
Following the UK's ban on peat, we are also seeing better labelling regarding peat-free plants and a generally higher regard for eco-conscious information as part of garden supply packaging and marketing. The practice of re-using existing seed trays and pots will increase, and gardeners are driven to seek out more sustainable products manufactured with biodegradable materials like cardboard and rubber.
Extra living space
Not surprisingly, the lockdown effect created a huge demand for home extensions, and where this wasn't possible, many turned to their outdoor spaces for extra room. Of course, this is also a solid approach to bumping up the desirability and value of your home if you’re thinking of selling.
Extending living spaces into garden areas continues to trend, with a variety of approaches playing out depending on individual needs. Some choose to create additional cooking space, while others focus on wellness areas or extra playroom for the kiddies - the options are endless.
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Since forever, endlessly optimistic Brits have been carting everything outdoors in the hope of enjoying that quintessential UK summer garden BBQ - only to have to drag it all in the next minute, lamenting 'I don't believe it' as the rain comes pouring down.
While an increase in rain-free days seems more likely than ever due to climate change, we're more determined than ever to enjoy outdoor entertaining regardless. As a result, patio covers, sunken fire-pits, pizza ovens, and comfy outdoor furniture is in more demand than ever as we opt for a more Mediterranean style of living.
Incorporating a clear zoning theme into the design is key to maximising a garden's potential. Depending on the size of the space, popular zoning categories include outdoor play areas, chill-out spaces, storage areas, and entertaining zones.
Garden zoning is also a popular choice with limited spaces, as trending social media images show us clearly just how much use we can squeeze out of our gardens with careful design and planning. With a clever use of space, even the smallest outdoor spaces can be transformed into aesthetically pleasing, functional spaces that are a joy to retreat to.
Gardens 'of nature'
The overarching garden trends for 2022 seem to be zoning, sustainability, and cultivating a much more natural outdoor environment. Wildlife gardens that feel more immersive and take people on more of a journey away from the mundane are all the rage. This makes sense when you consider what we have endured during the lockdowns - it's no wonder that we are craving the rugged beauty of a more natural environment.
Additionally, transforming gardens into extensions of our home has never been more popular; it's a new era in outdoor living for the UK.
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