Saturday, January 23, 2010

Main Street America Is Back!

Photo by Melanie Jolicoeur

Change has come to America. The pop culture phrase “show me the money” that has boiled throughout business and industry for quite a while has cooled down, and people are being forced to take a hard look at what is really important in life. Now, along with belt-tightening and downsizing, there’s a welcome trend emerging: a return to Main Street American values.

“Just look around you,” says Susan McCoy, trend spotter and outdoor living expert. “Our relationship with money has changed. Hard work, common sense, and a return to small-town values are causing a shift in priorities from boardrooms to backyards.”

According to Garden Media Group’s 2010 Garden Trends Report, “The rewards of growing your own — from basil to berries to flowers — are boundless,” says McCoy.

Here is a glimpse of what McCoy and her team of trend spotters see for 2010.

GMG 2010 Garden Trends

What’s In, What’s Out

1. Main Street is in. Wall Street is out.
2. Edible gardens are in. Lawns are out.
3. Slow gardening is in. Instant gratification is out.
4. Mindful is in. Bling is out.
5. Eco-boosting is in. Chemical-dependent gardens are out.
6. Multitasking is in. Single-purpose gardening is out.
7. Perennials and shrubs are in. Divas are out.

1. Main Street is in. Wall Street is out.
There’s a shift of priorities, balancing practicality with comfort and fulfillment. “Core values of responsibility, meaningful relationships, and connectivity to neighbors and communities are surging,” says McCoy, president of Garden Media Group. That “can do” spirit empowered by a new sense of self-sufficiency is fueling a renewed appreciation for our land — defined more by nostalgia than by geography; people see themselves as caretakers rather than developers.

Yard sharing with people — dividing resources, skills, space, tools, and time — is popping up to support our need to “go local,” strengthening our neighborhoods. We’re connecting to the soil and with each other, sharing the bounty and giving families food that’s more nutritious, tastier, and less costly.

2. Edible gardens are in. Lawns are out.
Growing your own groceries is hotter than ever and is transforming homes and communities. A recent survey by the National Gardening Association shows a 19 percent burst over last year of new hobby country farms and urban edible gardens.

“It’s time to reclaim our land for our greater good,” says Margie Grace, the 2009 International Landscape Designer of the Year, an honor awarded by the Association of Professional Landscape Designers. “Take that food-producing garden from the back 40 and put it wherever we want. Reunite the ornamental with the edible — roses beside tomatoes, beds edged with herbs, and veggies used as annuals.” Grace is one of many wanting to “delawn” America. Front lawns are being transformed into vegetable and rain gardens. “Hell strips” are lining the wasteland between the sidewalk and the street with sustainable planting.

Gardeners with limited space are finding ways to have fresh herbs and vegetables in their kitchens. Innovative plant systems are being offered, such as Fertile Earth’s new Simple Gardens, which come with soil, seeds, and how-to guide packed in stylish square containers that makes it a snap to grow kitchen gardens in any bright spot. Just add water.

3. Slow Gardening is in. Instant gratification is out.
Domesticity is back. People young and old are returning to a simpler life of cooking, gardening, and even raising chickens! Produce sharing, with community-supported agriculture (CSA) farms and produce exchanges, is springing up throughout urban, suburban, and rural communities. The take-home message is this: urban farming is cool; urban wastelands are not.

With the rising demand for locally grown food and organic and energy-efficient products, people are gardening for the greater good. According to Lifestyle of Health and Sustainability (LOHAS), seed sales are up by 30 to 50 percent and canning has seen a whopping 45 percent increase. Along with vegetables, people are planting and picking fruits and berries, especially blueberries and raspberries for their nutritional value and ornamental good looks.

4. Mindful is in. Bling is out.
The collapse of greed and self-indulgence is ushering in a new culture of giving, creating, and collaborating. Reflected in the Reputation Economy, sharing a passion and receiving recognition has replaced “taking” as the new status symbol.

A new patriotism of spirit — volunteering and a shift from “me” to “we” — has trumped greed. The ascendant generation of “grups” (a contraction of “grownups”; refers to 30-to-50 somethings) are redefining adulthood with their young-at-heart lifestyle, driving demand for products made from recycled materials in sync with their focus on social and environmental issues.

According to the National Marketing Institute, four out of five people say they’re still buying green products and services today — which sometimes cost more — even in the midst of a U.S. recession. More than two-thirds say they will select green over traditional, “if it works.”

Many new products on the market are designed to help sustain the environment. Space-age technology saves gardeners time and water. AquaLok, a sustainable hydration system from Costa Farms, is a self-watering system for plants that is made from recycled soda bottles. It allows plants to thrive without drainage and reduces watering needs by more than half.

For you do-it-yourself gardeners, add just a little Geohumus, a new soil additive made from volcanic rock combined with state-of-the-art superabsorbents, to all your containers and new plantings. It stores water and releases it to the plants on demand. Environmentally harmless and long-lasting, it saves both time and money. As an extra bonus, the 1-pound-cup and 10-pound-bucket packages are made of recycled plastic and can be either recycled or reused as a scoop or bucket to hold garden tools.

The bottom line is that folks want value, price, and performance, with a nod toward creating a more sustainable environment.

5. Eco-boosting is in. Chemical-dependent gardens are out.
Get used to terms like “eco-bounty” and “eco-frugal,” “eco-metering” and “eco-concierge,” which are sprouting up in blogs and social media. Green is the new black, as consumers seek products that work with nature, not against it.

Demand is up for earth-friendly, sustainable, and organic garden products, like the first Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI)–listed compost-based, premium-blend potting soil from Organic Mechanics Soil Company. The caviar of potting mixes, this all-purpose premier blend is easy to use for all your planting needs.

For all-natural garden products and animal and insect repellents that are environmentally safe for people, pets, and plants, turn to innovative companies such as the Liquid Fence Company, which just released FreezePruf, a revolutionary spray that helps plants withstand early fall frosts and late spring frosts, extending the growing season by a couple of weeks in fall and spring.

6. Multitasking is in. Single-purpose gardening is out.
From California’s green buildings to New York’s high-rises, living (green) walls are allowing people even in cramped urban apartments to use a greater range of plants. Roofs are no longer just for parties. Green roofs are springing to life in cities and small towns, transforming barren space into lush gardens that help cool buildings, absorb rainwater, filter air pollutants, and create wildlife habitats.

Rain barrels and rain gardens continue to remain popular as people seek ways to conserve water and reuse and recycle. Businesses and homeowners are setting up rain gardens that collect runoff from buildings and landscapes and help absorb polluted runoff that threatens waterways.

Folks are bringing the outdoors in with houseplants. Mini orchids from Costa Farms are affordable and easy to care for and come in a wide array of colors that are perfect for decorating rooms and gift giving.

Indoor plants are living art accents that provide oxygen and remove carbon dioxide and harmful volatile organic compounds, 24/7! Check out these natural air-cleaning machines at

7. Perennials and shrubs are in. Divas are out.
Sustainable landscapes, water conservation, perennials, and small edible shrubs are hot as gardening with natives attracts needed pollinators and birds, critical for the balance of nature. Consumers are looking for plants that are easy care, have great color, and are pest and drought resistant. Centerton Nursery’s new hardy early and repeat-blooming daylily — Jersey Earlybird ‘Cardinal’ — is a fire-engine-red color that’s perfect in beds, borders, and containers in Zones 5 to 9. Check it out at and

Demand is up for sustainable hybrids such as rhododendrons and grasses that provide great impact with little fuss. Look for a new hardy hybrid rhododendron and the first-ever tricolored hosta from Briggs Nursery. Rhododendron ‘Trocadero’ is a compact grower with bright red trusses, and Hosta ‘Trifecta’ is a drought-tolerant stunner that helps shape landscapes with striking good looks and easy care.

Proceeds from the American Beauties Native Plant collection help support the National Wildlife Foundation’s Backyard Habitat program. Families are connecting with each other — and the earth — as purposeful gardening for wildlife catches on.

From the look of things, America’s seeing green, as we all plant something for our future.

— Kathleen Hassinger, Garden Media Group

For a complete look at the GMG 2009 Garden Trends, visit or subscribe to

American Beauties, LLC:
Association of Professional Landscape Designers:
Briggs Nursery, Inc.:
Centerton Nursery:
Costa Farms:
Fertile Earth:
Garden Media Group:
The Liquid Fence Company:
Organic Mechanics Soil Company:

1 comment:

LizM said...

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