The future looks bright for gardening in Leaside

The author's hydroponic unit.
The author’s hydroponic unit.

No one knows for certain what this year will bring but if the garden trend forecasters are right, Leaside is on track to experience one of the most profound gardening seasons ever. And it’s all thanks to how and why we gardened last year.

There’s no doubt, 2020 was a tough year for everyone but with all the bad that COVID-19 brought, it also unleashed an abundance of creativity and a deeper appreciation for our immediate surroundings. It taught us how to be more resourceful, responsible and the importance of being connected (in new ways) not only to each other but to also to the environment.

I talked to Carla Rose of Davenport Garden Centre about this, who said “One of the positive stories from the summer of COVID-19, was the renewed interest in nature, gardening and especially sustainable gardening. We sold the most native plants by far and I would say, three times as many as any other year!” She also went on to tell me how she had to continually increase her supply of herbs and vegetables seedlings to keep up with the steady and high demand.

But while we gardeners were busy sourcing, planting, growing and harvesting, professional trend forecasters were even busier collecting the data from our online searches, purchases and Instagram postings. Fun fact, the term Victory Garden spiked on Google, April 5 2020 reaching its all-time peak.

One of these trend-tracking organization is the Garden Media Group and for the past 20 years, they’ve been helping the horticultural industry plan for the year ahead with their annual Garden Trend Report. This year, their 2021 report is called The Great Reset and here are just a few things that they, and other forecasters, believe we can expect this year.

Gardening will get easier

Though Leaside has always had a large population of seasoned gardeners, the increased interest in gardening brought us a slew of eager new gardeners. Throughout the growing season of 2020, the largest audience and biggest spenders were the 35 to 45 age bracket. But many in this group are raising a family, own a home and have careers. Most are newbie gardeners and they’re all very busy!

Thanks to what the industry learned from this group and the growing number of balcony gardeners, we can expect to see more container suitable plants and a wide variety plant kits (grouped by light and watering needs) helping to make gardening (in particular vegetable gardening) a lot easier.

The love of small

Being confined to our homes and immediate neighbourhood, many experienced a new appreciation for the little things in life. So we will see more dwarf varieties of evergreens, trees (including fruit trees) and even dwarf vegetables along with berries that are all suitable for container growing in tiny spaces.

Rather than digging a vegetable patch, containers can quickly turn any patio into a kitchen garden and every balcony into a plant paradise. I know I’ll be looking for a new hanging basket blueberry plant called Midnight Cascade from the Bushel and Barrel Collection that will be available at Davenport Garden Centre.

Going Wild

Leaside landscapers were busy in 2020 and I saw a few more lawns removed and replaced with diverse plantings of shrubs, hedges, drought tolerant plants and yes, a lot more native plants! But that’s not all, I saw the ‘wild trend’ embraced by so many of our balcony gardeners and backyard veg growers who understood why every pollinator plant matters.

Indoor gardening grows in new ways

The houseplant craze grew even bigger in 2020 and these indoor plant lovers (many without backyards or balconies) were equally concerned about possible food shortages. They found creative ways to grow some food of their own – and all of it indoors using hydroponics.

During the first lockdown in March, sales for AreoGarden (the hydroponic garden kit that I purchased) jumped 384%.

This adventurous group also experimented with re-growing vegetables from the scrap ends of their store-bought produce and quickly shared their techniques and results on YouTube. Videos on how to re-grow lettuce, carrots and celery (just to name a few) in a simple cup of water, showed us all how easy it is to both reduce waste and enjoy a second harvest.

Design Abundance

According to the Garden Media Group, this trend spots a dynamic shift in the horticultural industry that will lead to greener societies and a return to nature. But this ‘design abundance’ isn’t about having more. If we each do our part to take care of the life on our own small property, we then become a part of something that is abundant…… the entire natural world. It’s so simple and so true!

So here’s to the many Leaside green thumbs (both experienced and novice) who gardened with heart and purpose through a gardening year like no other. They are the ones who helped set many of these positive trends for 2021. And I agree with the trend-trackers, because we haven’t yet seen all the fruits of that labour. The best is yet to come!

About Debora Kuchme 65 Articles
After a 30-year career as a fashion designer, Debora worked at Horticultural Design for over a decade. Now with her concerns about climate change, she hopes to help local gardeners find positive solutions for a greener and healthier neighbourhood. As a board member of the Bayview Leaside BIA, she created the Bayview Pixies, a volunteer group introducing sustainable gardening practice to Bayview.