First and foremost, I would to state emphatically that I am in no way psychic. I don’t get strange dreams that predict the future and I could care less about the shape and meaning of my spent tea leaves (mostly because I drink coffee).
That said, I do come from a very superstitious lineage, with my grandmother cringing at the sound of a howling dog (apparently a portent of death in the family) and my mom freaking out about bringing wild birds into the house (my dad once cared for a sick crow that I brought to his attention, who was allowed to recover in our basement for a short time), as this was supposed to rain all sorts of back luck down upon the household (which it didn’t).
I don’t have to be a rocket scientist to notice that people’s tastes in gardening are changing and that these changes make for new trends.
So in the spirit of the new year and those eye-catching National Enquirer headlines, I thought I would do my best to bring you my garden predictions for 2016.
• The rise of weird fruits and vegetables – I would describe these as weird rather than unusual simply because you probably haven’t seen anything like them.
Local wholesale growers having been scouring the globe for these strange fruits and vegetables ever since they anticipated the rise in interest by the gardening public, so you can expect many of these at local garden centres in spring 2016.
For fruits, keep an eye out for pawpaw (Asimina triloba) with its mango-flavoured lobes, as well as the hardy lemon or yuzu (Citrus x junos) which can be grown outdoors, the goumi berry (Elaeagnus multiflora) and we should finally have mulberries back on the market with a hybrid variety (M.rubra x M. alba) called ‘Illinois everbearing’.
For vegetables look no further than the cucumelon (Melothria scabra), a cucumber-like fruit that looks just like a tiny watermelon with a slightly sour taste. I had some of these as pickles for Christmas dinner and they were delicious.
• The hellebores downward trend – As much as I love this versatile winter-flowering perennial, I have to admit that the collecting phase of this plant (much like hostas) is trending downward.
To be fair, most of the new introductions much resemble what we already have on the market as far as flower form, foliage types and blossom colours are concerned.
Then there were all the problems that many of you were experiencing with aphid infestations which have also put a damper on things. Still, it would be a shame not to have one or two of these beauties in any new garden.
• High demand for quality tools – This is one trend I am glad to see re-emerge, as that era of cheap disposable tools left us with little but a lot of unnecessary pollution (from excessive manufacturing) and materials thrown into the landfill (as these tools rarely lasted two seasons).
It is much better to spend even upwards of three to four times more per item and get tools or pruners with replaceable parts that will last you a lifetime.
• Pots, pots and more pots – Please note that I used the plural tense of this word, that’s because I am referring to the ongoing trend in container culture rather than the expected surge in cannabis.
Given the postage stamp-sized yards that come with most new single-detached homes and the continuing popularity of condominiums and townhouses, most of us are going to have to find ways to garden in containers.
– Mike Lascelle is a local nursery manager and gardening author (firstname.lastname@example.org).