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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Garden Trends 2013

Forgive me. Some of you may not be as obsessed with the petals of haute horticulture as the rest of us. But I hope you non-botanical people will allow us to chat amongst ourselves for one small post. Because we need to talk about a very important topic. What's hot, what's not and what's being relegated to the gardening compost heap in 2013.

The following is a whimsical list of what seems to be 'IN' and 'OUT' in the grand, gorgeous world of gardening this year, although as I put it together it's bound to be more faux-cical than factual. Gardening trends also change faster than the seasons so please don't lynch me if you plant dahlias and they end up being shunned by something more on-trend, such as brussels sprouts. (Apparently very big this year.)

Finally, I'd like to apologise, most sincerely, for being low under the radar of late. Since these Garden Tours have taken off faster than summer jasmine, I've had to focus a lot of energy on ensuring they're run in a professional manner. Still, it will all be worth it. Nothing will please me more than seeing the cheery faces of 24 lovely gardeners at the end of each successful tour. As Luther Burbank once said: "Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful. They are sunshine, food and medicine for the soul."


Did you see the recent Spring/Summer 2013 collection by Valentino? Hamish Bowles called it "a joyous celebration of the infinite possibilities of the unfettered imagination." There were frocks inspired by formal gardens, by romantic flower plantings and even by ornate iron gates. (Created by raised decorative patterns on the surface of the fabric, to suggest the elaborate wrought-iron gates hiding the mystery within.) There were also ball gowns elaborately embroidered with flowers and birds (which rightly elicited a spontaneous round of applause), and woollen numbers stamped with designs taken from 18th-century garden design books for formal parterres, along with chiffon dahlias (dahlias are so IN), latticed ribbon-work and blooming skirts. Even Valentino was emotional at the sight of it all. Beautiful. Just beautiful. 

Have any of you been following Carolyn Roehm's work on her new Charleston house and garden? She's been detailing it in her blog – link here. Before she'd even bought a stick of furniture she'd purchased two 10.5″ caliper live oaks and two huge Magnolia grandiflora to plant in the front garden. Isn't that a woman after your own heart? Then she had to find a 100 ton crane (above) to lift the 18,000-pound live oaks and the 10,000-pound magnolias into place. (Makes our wheelbarrows efforts look rather tame.) She wants, she says, "a real old-fashioned scented Charleston garden": one with gardenias, camellias, jasmine, magnolia grandiflora, evergreen oaks (Quercus virginiana) and Ficus pumila. Can't wait to see what she does with the camellias and gardenias.

Vegie gardens have been in vogue for a while now, thanks to First Lady Michelle Obama, Her Majesty The Queen (yes, even she planted one) and of course long-standing supporters such as Rosemary Verey. (Whom I'll never forget meeting. Such a gracious person.) But people are actually designing gardens around them now. For the perfect example of this, see my favourite garden in the world, Villandry Chateau in France (above). As Stephen Lacey quoted in The Telegraph recently: “Designer friends tell me that even super-rich non-gardeners are asking for their gardens to include somewhere they can go foraging for a few edible rocket leaves and berries." Edible hedges are apparently big, too.

Sales of authentic, vintage and replica Victoriana gardenalia have gone through the greenhouse roof. Cute cloches started it, but now people are buying old-fashioned mini conservatories, seed boxes, and even antique tools on the Internet. This is Ben Pentreath's garden at his country house, The Old Parsonage. Isn't it charming? More details on his delightful blog here – Ben Pentreath.

Picking gardens were hugely fashionable last century. And perhaps earlier this century too. But then they were overtaken by the fad for formal French gardens and the English box hedge mania that went with it. Thankfully, beautiful picking gardens are coming back. And not designed ones either but gorgeous, blousy, toss-it-anywhere-and-see-what-it-looks-like stuff. It's the bohemian aesthetic. And it's surprisingly marvellous. Try Googling Sarah Raven's picking garden at Perch Hill for inspiration.

Several years ago there was a trend for white gardens. (Think Sissinghurst.) Then blue gardens. Now, black and white gardens are the biggest thing in botanicals, inspired, partly, by HRH The Prince of Wales' magnificent monochromatic design at Highgrove (which features white lupins and peonies and black grasses).* Black and white gardens are easy to eulogise, but difficult to create. Even Mother Nature is partial to colour. However, stylish gardeners are tossing down dark Tom Thumb hedging, black and white delphiniums and foxgloves, black-stemed violet hydrangeas such as the purple-flowered Hydrangea macrophylla 'Merveille Sanguine' (which translates to '****** Marvellous'), and the beautifully named 'Plum Pudding' Heuchera. Plus silver birches with their white trunks and of course Light Sussex chickens to tone in with it all. (*According to a garden designer friend, The Prince of Wales' gardeners have softened the black and white scheme at Highgrove to allow for a more relaxed cottage garden-style aesthetic with lots of scent and colour.)

Did you hear the news that Prince Harry is collaborating with a charity to produce a garden for the Chelsea Flower Show this year. I think that's fantastic. The prince is said to have a “keen interest” in the garden, which is being designed by Jinny Blom, and even if he doesn't have time to do more than nod approval at the horticultural blueprint, I still think it's marvellous that he's lending his name. Clearly the leaf doesn't fall far from the tree, after all. I do think Prince Harry might surprise us all.

The Garden Centre Association (GCA) reported that November sales were up 11 per cent compared to last year. It's one of the retail trends that is going against the downturn. That's pleasing news, indeed. Keep on gardening, people. Good work. Well done.


  1. Fab post Janelle. So much to comment on. I love the idea of Carolyn Roehm's traditional garden - I really want to put one of those enormous tall and skinny date palms into my front garden that Victorian houses traditionally had in South Australia. I believe that to get the size you have to find a farmer with one on their property, who is amenable to you digging it up and craning it to Adelaide for a hefty fee. At the moment, it's in the too hard/ expensive basket.

    Love the Black and White garden, I cut out an article in the Australian a month ago about one. Depth in a garden is so important, even if you don't do a strict colour scheme, shadow/ depth is very important, just the same as in interiors.

    Love picking gardens, I think if you love flowers in your house (as I do), you need somewhere that isn't strict geometry and hedging and grows all the pretties. Otherwise you spend a fortune at the greengrocer's buying them ($5 per Peonie, have yet to see any dahlias). Well done on all your hard work with the tours - they'll be such a success. xx

    1. Heidi, I don't know what happened to your comment, so have reposted it from email.

      Thanks so much for this lovely and insightful note. I fear it might be one of the last blog posts for a while... So much going on here. I've never been so snowed under with work! But it's also a good thing too. Hugs to you lovely. Hope the garden and house renos are going well. xx

  2. Janelle, don't work too hard, we want you fresh and happy on those tours!
    The Valentino collection is beautiful, it makes you believe in couture.
    Thank you for the update on what is happening on the garden scene for this year.
    Carolyn Boehm's vision for her garden and the execution of it, is amazing.

    1. Isn't Carolyn's garden extraordinary? One can only gasp at how much those trees cost. (Such an unladylike question, but one that has to be asked.) I remember we once looked at buying two mature 3-foot high Tilia Cordata trees and they were $800 each. We went with the infant English box hedges instead...

      Don't worry. Will be cheery as Mr Squiggle for the garden tours. xx

  3. Dear Janelle

    Lovely post. So interesting about garden fashions and the amazing lengths to which people go to create beauty. Remember very well the parterre gardens at Villandry with the cabbages many years ago. Beautiful and edible at the same time! Our veggie garden is thriving despite heat and storms but doesn't look beautiful as the tomatoes have got a bit out of control. We're now eating tomatoes, zucchini (have to catch and pick them before they bolt into cricket bats), cucumbers, lettuce leaves, rocket, Hungarian capsicums and of course lots of the herbs like basil, oregano and sage. Soon french beans. In amongst the tomatoes the nasturtiums are spreading and flowering.

    Love the Valentino flower and garden designs, so wonderful. His new (I guess not so new now) designers are so original and talented.

    Take care and don't over-work! Hope it's all going well.
    Warmest wishes, Pamela

    1. So glad your vegetable garden is thriving Pamela. All this sun must be like steroids for the produce! Do visit Vaucluse House in Sydney if you have a chance - their heirloom vegies are just beautiful. (And the old kitchen is amazing too.)

  4. Beautiful photos Janelle and I am loving your tour concepts. I just tweeted the' Paris tour with travel author, Janelle McCulloch' and added it to Facebook. We need to spread the good word! xx Jeanne

    1. Was so touched when I read this. Thank you Miss Jeanne. You should start a blogger's tour of Vietnam with Jean. I'd go on that...

  5. Oh, (sniff) you are making me (sniff) cry for my last garden, which had the aforementioned black and white planting scheme in the front. Actually, it was tremendously hard to find black leaved things which were happy to grow - I had a lot of trials. But the black elderflower, oh wow was he a performer. (Think I may need to get another one for my shoebox courtyard.) I ended up cheating a little, and introducing red-stemmed plants to make up some of the black contingent, which worked a treat.

    Good and bad that you are working so hard - I suspect, as one perfectionist to another, that you rather love having too much on your plate?? xx

    1. Oh no! Don't mean to make you sentimental! Don't worry. Your new city garden will look just as amazing Have you ever seen pix of Tricia Guild's garden in London? (Of Designer Guild) It's so compact and tiny but SO beautiful.

      Black elderflower is big in black and white gardens, isn't it?

  6. Love Valentino. Saw his exhibition at the GOMA in Brisbane two years ago. Yes Dahlias seem to be making a comeback. Don't remember seeing them sold at a florist before (they used to be a humble backyard flower) but then stranger things have happened. What next - Carnations?

    1. Oh Miss A, I wish I'd seen that show. Tried to catch it in London last November but missed it by a day. You're right, Dahlias are everywhere now, aren't they? Perhaps it's a return to the humble flower arrangement?

  7. Those cabbages are amazing. I love the way the fashion fits right in too!

    1. We know you love fashion. Your blog is always beautiful!

  8. Miguel Carson has left a new comment on your post "Garden Trends 2013":

    Fantastic, all of them are beautiful, me and my wife are always in search such kind of stuff so that we can have unique and new ideas for our garden.


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