IN THE GARDEN
A spotlight on the changing climate and new policies around sustainability are creating more engaged and savvy consumers.
Today’s gardeners are much more aware of the changes they can make to help protect the earth for a more sustainable future – be that on a personal, local or global level. With this comes a greater consideration for ecofriendly products and caring for wildlife, as well as a concern for how extreme weather and levels of pollution will affect our gardens in the future.
Lovely weather, we’re having!
The Great British weather caused a media storm this year as Brits faced more unpredictable conditions than ever before. The icy Beast from the East swept the nation in the early spring, wiping out crops and cattle across the UK with severe snowfall. This was followed by the hottest and driest summer since 1976, which began with an unseasonably scorching late-May Bank Holiday. This period brought early sales of garden furniture (+46%), BBQs (+98%) and pot bedding (+30%) compared to the year prior.
Watering sales soared 22% YOY in May, with over 4,000 hoses, 20,000 watering accessories and 12,000 watering cans sold.
From farmers to home-gardeners, the early cold snap meant that growers across the nation started planting at the same time, without the two-week head start that southern gardeners normally get on the north. The combined influence of the Beast from the East and the hot summer saw tomatoes in Yorkshire ripening at the same time as tomatoes in the south.
However, the extreme weather was not without its complications. During the threemonth scorcher, which started with the late- May Bank Holiday and lasted through to the end of August, Google searches for ‘drought tolerant plants’ were up 83% compared to 2017 as gardeners fought to protect their plants and produce. The switch-change from sub-zero to searing temperatures also brought a dramatic increase in pest populations, such as the greenfly.
Into the wild
Nature will remain at the forefront of gardeners’ minds in 2019, with ongoing support both at home and in the community to encourage greater numbers of wildlife into local areas. Conversations around wildlife are particularly popular on social media, with Wyevale Garden Centres’ engagements up 275% YOY for wildlife-related content. It’s not only the birds and the bees drawing attention; the most shared piece of social content was ‘how to build an insect house’. From DIY habitats and buying hedgehog houses, to using garden materials as nest spots and wildlife corridors, Brits are proving to be generous hosts…
Companion planting, where two or more plants are grown together for a beneficial effect, is becoming widely popular as Brits use the technique to provide a habitat for creatures in the garden, as well as an organic route to controlling pests and aiding pollination.
People are increasingly aware of the role that pollinators play in facilitating reproduction of the world’s flowering plants, and their
vital importance to both horticulture and agriculture. Vegetables are the surprise stars of this show, with beans, peas, rocket, courgettes and garlic all having flowers that draw in pollinators like a magnet.
Wild meadows are also expected to flourish in 2019, with Google searches for ‘wildflowers’ up by nearly 30% YOY. There is a growing
trend towards leaving a patch of the garden less tended to, which serves both as a means to attract wildlife as well as create less work for time-poor gardeners. This ‘looser’, more relaxed style of gardening has been adopted by many high-profile garden designers over the past year, using a mix of herbaceous perennials, grasses and wildflowers to soften areas of an otherwise structured garden.
Environmentally conscious shoppers
Plastic has been one of the biggest talking points of 2018. The global focus on ways to reduce single-use plastic and improve sustainability is driving trends towards energy-efficient products that use less packaging and are more suitable for today’s conscious shoppers.
‘Zero Waste’ gardening is a growing trend, with Google searches up 700% in 2018.
Garden centres are seeking solutions to reduce the amount of plastic packaging generated each year, while ensuring plants and products remain protected from the conditions of the outdoors.
In 2018, Wyevale Garden Centres eliminated the use of expanded polystyrene from its bedding packs and ensured that plant pots and pot bedding containers were made from 100% recyclable materials.
To ensure a high success rate of plastic separation at landfill, the garden centre group also trialled easily identifiable carbon-free boxed bedding, which will continue into 2019 with the phased introduction of ‘taupe pots’.
“Due to many gardening products needing to survive outdoors for lengthy periods of time – often in adverse weather conditions – the issue of packaging is always a prevalent industry topic. As the largest garden centre retailer in the UK, we see it as our responsibility to move towards more sustainable options where possible, and this will continue to be an ongoing mission in 2019, starting with the scrapping of all plastic carrier bags.”
Trading & Marketing Director,
Wyevale Garden Centres
Bare root ranges, which offer customers top-quality plant material without overengineering the packaging, proved hugely popular in 2018, with increased ranges of roses and soft fruit bushes being brought in for 2019. The bare root plants are dug up whilst dormant in the late autumn/early winter and the roots are then wrapped and tied to provide the simplest method of getting plants to customers in early spring.
Known as the butterfly bush, buddleja produces clusters of deep scented flowers from midsummer into autumn (July to September). Rich in nectar, this fast-growing, hardy deciduous shrub attracts butterflies, bees and other insects and thrives in any well-drained soil (chalk, loam or sand).
This plant offers rich, colourful flowers with ruffled petals and golden stamens (from late winter into spring. February to April) and offset by glossy evergreen leaves, the Camellia proves that beautiful plants can also be tolerant to pollution. Plant in light shade, in shelter and in moist but well-drained, humus-rich, lime-free soil (loam) or in a container, in ericaceous (limefree) compost.
Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Charles Lamont’
This is a superb variety of viburnum as it has bright pink, sweetly scented flowers which open on dark stems from November to May. It’s a vigorous, upright shrub, that looks good all year round and is easy to grow in moist but well-drained fertile soil (chalk, loam or sand), in sun or light shade and sheltered from cold winds
This easy to grow barberry has spiny shoots and simple leaves. Soft yellow or orange flowers appear in spring (April to May) and are followed by small berries in the autumn. This deciduous or evergreen shrub will succeed in a wide range of conditions. Plant in full sun or partial shade, in well-drained humus-rich soil (chalk, loam or sand), although it will be tolerant of most soils as long as they are reasonably well-drained.
Chaenomeles (Japanese quince) flower in spring and produce edible fruits in autumn, which can be used for jelly-making. The plant provides early nectar for bees and thrives in any well-drained, fertile soil (chalk, loam or sand), in sun or light shade. It’s great for training under house windows or on low walls and fences.
This is a handsome, vigorous, large evergreen shrub, quite different from other escallonias. With larger, glossy, rich green leaves and clusters of scented white flowers in mid and late summer (July to August). Plant in well-drained, fertile soil (chalk, loam or sand) in full sun or partial shade, sheltered from mcold winds. It can be grown in the open in mild areas, but it’s best grown against a southfacing wall in cold areas.