Garden Trends: The Cool Stuff

Who knew my Mom was so cutting edge? In Florida this winter, she showed me her containers, a trio of nice-looking decorative pots, each with a single Sunpatiens impatiens in it. “I’m not putting all kinds of plants in my pots anymore,” she said. “I just put one in there and it looks good.”

Right on, Mom. According to Ed Lyons, the director of the Allen Centennial Gardens at the University of Wisconsin and a frequent author and lecturer, one-plant pots are among the latest garden trends. One reason is containers themselves have become more interesting: high-gloss glazes, bright colors, fun shapes. Using fewer plants per container also allows for more design flexibility. If a plant peters out or doesn’t like the sun in one location, just move it. Re-arrange a big group of pots for different looks. Lyons noted that designers also are using more containers in garden designs.

Since he was addressing a group of plant fanatics at the Midwest Regional Master Gardener Conference in Milwaukee, Lyon also noted which plants are hot now. Here are the top four on-trend plants he sees:

  • Succullents–any and everything, and if you’ve got a spot in the basement and grow them in pots, you can overwinter them successfully;
  • Heucheras–Lyons likes the Heuchera x villosas , which come in colors like ‘Caramel’, ‘Citronelle’ and ‘Brownie’. Be careful: not all Heucheras have been trialed thoroughly in northern climates.
  • Echinaceas–There are dozens of new coneflowers coming on the market. Not everyone will like all the new varieties (personally, I hate the ones with the puffballs in the center), but there is something new for almost every taste. An article I read in Horticulture magazine recently said the new coneflowers may cross pollinate with each other or the old ones, resulting in a variety of colors in your garden. That sounds cool.
  • Baptisia–According to Lyon, this is the next new hot plant with lots of cultivars coming. Start watching for it in plant catalogs and garden magazines. He likes a cultivar called ‘Purple Smoke’.

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