My crystal ball has been a bit hazy and it’s been difficult to get a clear view of the future, but now that things have cleared up I can predict few things will become big or bigger in 2011. First off, let’s talk about science. Gone are the days when gardeners are willing to completely accept concepts based purely on sage advice handed down for centuries. Perhaps instead of this being the “me” generation, we could dub it the “but why?” generation. Thanks to smart phones, answers to almost any question are available from anywhere at anytime. But how good are those answers? I think we are starting to see a new breed of gardener and garden writer who is no longer willing to accept or dispense information without first-hand experience or scientific testing. Fine Gardening has realized this and added not one but two scholarly writers to their list of contributing editors in Jeff Gillman and Linda Chalker-Scott. Jeff Gillman’s books on organic gardening, garden tips and even trees gives blend scientific data and lore in such an enjoyable way that we don’t just browse them, we read them. Linda Chalker-Scott’s weekly quiz on The Garden Professors not only keeps us on our toes but educates as well. Their responses to garden related science in the news are both interesting and thought provoking.
There once was a time when the Wellies crowd and the white lab coat crowd rarely mixed or agreed, but those days are gone. Gardeners are embracing science in new, exciting and smart ways. Whenever a new tidbit of news is released on the state of the bee population, the Twitter stream is flooded with links pointing to studies and data rather than merely passing on a sound byte sized morsel of information that may or may not be true. Gardeners are thinkers, not merely followers and the garden writing world is reflecting that. But science isn’t foolproof and open to interpretation. Luckily we have Joseph Tychonievich at Greensparrow Gardens to explain why.
For 2011, it also looks like the pendulum is starting to swing in the other direction. For several years now, the momentum towards water-wise, lawn-less gardens has been picking up fast. In Fall of 2009 we saw the the formation of the Lawn Reform Coalition which educated us on the wastefulness of the traditional lawn and more appropriate lawn substitutes. Native plant awareness was everywhere with blog roll calls. Meadow gardens were popping up in front yards. Succulents were everywhere. And for the most part, we gardeners get it. But something else started to happen. Gardeners started to miss things. We started to miss the lushness of that spring green color. We missed the dramatic effects of bold tropical leaves. We missed plants that were a bit more exotic than what we saw in the local hills. Does this mean that we are going to dismiss our responsibility to future generations and stop conserving water? No. What it means is we will relax a little. The finger pointing will subside a bit and we can start to enjoy variety again–within reason. Perhaps gardeners will indulge in one of the gorgeous Alocasias from Hort Couture. Or join Steve Asbell at The Rainforest Garden in a bit of epiphyte experimentation. Whatever form it takes, I predict we are going to see a more green, more lush and more tropically dramatic additions to our gardens.
Photo credit: MaRS Discovery District