There’s only one place in the UK that you can view over 5000 patio containers, 650 hanging baskets and colourful borders packed with 25,000 plants, and that is Ball Colegrave in Banbury. This is the place where the garden centre buyers and mail order product developers go shopping for new plants and fresh ideas.
This year, I visited with the QVC team to check out the new trends and to see if we could identify the ‘next big thing’ for your garden. We had a great day, and saw a few eye-popping varieties and some clever ideas and concepts. So, here’s a quick overview of 9 of the most exciting 2019 planting trends and styles that could be defining our gardens next year.
Plants that don’t need water
Even the Trials Manager at Ball Colegrave was shocked at how hot the summer has been, and admitted that some specimens had struggled with the relentless heat. However, there was one clear survivor around the trials and that was a plant named Calibrachoa. In case you haven’t heard of this fabulous plant, it’s basically a mini petunia!
Calibrachoa have been around since the 90s, and you’ll probably recognise their marketing name of ‘Million Bells’. Plants are undemanding, and prefer their soil on the dry side. They are extremely forgiving, and have emerged unscathed from 2018’s mega heatwave!
Your very own urban jungle
I think Instagram has a lot to answer for in terms of emerging gardening styles. The popular app has certainly got millennials thinking about plants and how they want to grow them, whether that’s indoors or out.
And, it seems that the more jungley the image, the higher the number of likes…!
This movement has created a revival in the world of foliage plants in particular. Leafy, jungle style plants tend to be less thirsty, and they can also create a cool, shady patio, which you may need if we have another hot summer.. The ‘urban jungle’ trend has also switched the focus back to niche plants such as Canna and Celosia, plants I was growing from seed during my childhood. It’s great to see them back in gardens!
The Begonia renaissance
I never thought I’d see the day that Dahlias were popular again, but it has happened and social media feeds are filled with photos of glorious Dahlias, from pompom blooms that look like swimming hats to spiky cactus-flowered varieties. There’s something for everyone and they love the UK climate.
So, could it be the turn of the humble Begonia next…?
Begonias are remarkably weatherproof and their succulent-like structure means they stand up to most extremes of weather. You may also notice they’re usually the last bloom standing in your early autumn garden. The value a Begonia plant gives is incredible; get ahead of the curve by investing in a few for 2019.
Gardens to relax in
I’ve often spoken about wabi-sabi and the Japanese art of imperfection, and it seems the trend is catching on. People are getting exhausted of tending to their gardens to perfection, and I think this season’s heatwave was the final straw. You know, it’s okay to have a ‘relaxed garden’ look!
Think of ‘floaty’ plants for borders, such as Sweet Williams and Dianthus, or plants that weave in and out, filling gaps without too much hassle. Whimsical cottage garden plants, such as Delphinium, can also add an ethereal feel to your outdoor space.
There’s more to Geraniums
The humble annual Geranium (which should actually be correctly referred to as Pelargonium…) is available in a myriad of flower colours, but have you ever seen one with coloured foliage? One of the best revivals we’re going to see in 2019, these Fancy Leaf Geraniums were popular way back beyond I was born, but fell out of favour.
Bigger, better, stronger- the 2019 Fancy Leaf Geraniums are ready to strut your garden catwalk. Even before they bloom, they are even showing off for you, thanks to those patchwork leaves.
Too hot to handle!
Perhaps we are all artists and our garden is meant to be our canvas? Colour in the garden is being celebrated more than ever, with unapologetic colour combos and fiery tones. Perhaps it’s the manifestation of fashion trends in our gardens. After all, look at the popularity of prints on clothing this season!
Hot colours such as orange and yellow can inject a certain energy into the garden, and can be a real tonic for our wellbeing. From the yellow of Sunflowers to the oranges of Zinnia, there are even some fresh new rustic tones in Marigolds.
Plants you can smell before you can see them
The denim-themed colours of Nemesia are an interesting pastel accent for patio zones. There are very few ‘true blue’ flowers, but these come pretty close. Newer breeding (mostly in Wales) means they flower longer too, and won’t stop flowering when the weather hots up.
That fragrance though. Despite their small appearance, each bloom emits a strong vanilla aroma, and it can travel a few metres in the air too. You will absolutely smell these Nemesia before you see them.. I bet you’ll be asking everyone nearby what aftershave they’re wearing…!
The rise of the Weird and Wacky!
You guys know I LOVE Weird and Wacky Plants, so of course I would say this. But, it’s true, people are getting more daring with the plants they want to grow. It’s all about having something better than the neighbours!
This super cool new Celosia is called ‘Dracula’ and it’s certainly a talking point!
Small is beautiful
Whenever I travel on mainland Europe, I’m always overwhelmed by how they use small potted plants on their outdoor tables. It’s a simple, yet effective, way of adding a pop of colour!
A new wave of smaller, compact pot plants are ideal for this purpose, and work just as well outside as on the windowsill. They have been bred to stay small, so will last all summer, as long as you water them well. Use a pot and saucer to make it easier for yourself!
I hope these 2019 planting trends got you thinking about your garden plan for next year, and remember you heard about those styles here first! Follow my plant geek journey by signing up to my newsletter, and keep up to date with airing dates for ‘Michael’s Garden World’ on QVC here.