Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Upper South
January, 2006
Regional Report

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Adding a water garden to your yard is one way to create a relaxing environment that also invites wildlife.

Garden Trends

Being trendy has never been high on my list of priorities, but as a writer it doesn't hurt to have at least one finger on the pulse of the public. So it was with at least some degree of interest that I recently began reading a magazine article that focused on garden design trends in different regions of the country. For once, I may actually be "in style," as I found that my gardening issues and desires pretty much coincided with other those of other people. Since winter is a great time to think about developing a landscape that you enjoy more than ever, a look at some of the trends may help you focus on some changes that you would like to incorporate.

Gardens as a Place to Relax and Have Fun
Stress seems to be endemic, and outdoor living areas for relaxing and entertaining are an obvious antidote. Incorporating them into the landscape usually involves more thought toward hardscaping rather than plant material. Decks, patios, and terraces are part of this, as are comfortable furnishings, cooking facilities, hot tubs, pools, ornamental water features, fireplaces, arbors, pergolas, landscape lighting, and artistic elements, such as statuary and sculpture. Obviously, these can be expensive projects, but there are also ways to approach them on a modest scale, especially if you're thrifty about where you shop and if you add a healthy dose of creativity.

Less Work and More Sustainability
A big part of the stress of early twenty-first century life is that whether we're still working or retired, there just seems to be an unlimited number of competing interests and activities. Even people who are seriously into gardening find that there seems to be less and less time to devote to it. Creating a lower-maintenance garden (no maintenance doesn't exist) involves choosing plants that are better adapted to the site and that have few pests and low water requirements. In conjunction with this, as we become more environmentally aware and conscious of the effects of our actions -- be it loss of habitat for wildlife or damage to the environment from our use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides -- the more we need to rethink what we grow.

In trying to meet our need for sensible maintenance while being more thoughtful of our planet, we are drawn to plants that are native to our particular region, as well as those introduced plants that are drought tolerant and have few pests.

More Visual Impact
All that being said, we still want our gardens to have great visual impact as much of the year as possible. Among the ways to combine both sustainability and dramatic appearance is to plant in masses; use plants that are long-blooming, have strong architectural form or another interesting feature, such as colorful foliage, berries, or unusual bark; use evergreens interspersed with deciduous plants; and choose bold, bright plant colors.

The best part of these trends is that not only are we creating gardens that we can relax in more with less work, we are also developing attractive landscapes that are in harmony with the environment.

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