5 Things I learned from the Garden Shows

In the last few months I’ve attended two garden shows in the South of England. Both were fun and I able to condense what I learned into 5 things.

Succulents are the new Hotness

It seemed that every pot and container garden either had colourful succulent as a centre point or contained several succulents as accents. These little beauties are drought hardy, colourful and adaptable to most zones, unfortunately for a long time you only saw them planted in boots (campy but true) or in rock walls. It’s nice to see the potential of these amazing plants being recognized.

Plant Vegetables not Annuals

Time was that if you wanted a boost of color in your garden between perennials blooms, you planted pansies, primroses, geraniums, mums, or whatever annual was on sale at the local nursery. But why spend money on annuals, when you can spend the same or less and grow colourful vegetables. In many of the gardens and containers that I saw, Swiss chard, burgundy lettuces, and even strawberries were used where we once might have seen annuals. They cost less, can be grown easily from seed and taste great. Bye Bye annuals!

Think Vertical

At both shows I was totally impressed with verticals gardens. Items like succulents and lettuce planted vertically on a back wall or a free standing wall used as a garden room divider. Smith and Hawken sells a kit to create your own vertical garden, but I think with a little experimenting I can make one on my own.

You don’t really need the newest gadget

At both shows, people seemed to be snapping up collapsible buckets for carrying water and tools or for picking food. I prefer mesh baskets for picking food (the dirt shakes off before you can carry it inside). But the best bucket I have found for carrying tools and water, are the large plastic 5 gallon buckets you can get at hardware stores. They don’t cost much, last forever and come with a lid. I can store tools and even leave them in the garden bed, as they the buckets are water tight. I also use them to mix up water soluble fertilizer for my containers. They are usually about $5 or less at the hardware store, and if you know anyone in the food industry, you may be able to get similar containers for free. Bottom line, you don’t need the newest tool or widget to enjoy gardening.

Garden Shows are missing the boat

Okay, I plan to elaborate on this in another post, but the bottom line is Garden Shows seem to not be in tune with gardening trends and the people who garden. Even the idea that all gardeners are not a like seems to elude them. We all garden in different spaces and climates, we garden for different reasons and we have access to different resources. Despite this, both shows seemed to focus almost solely on upper middle class, female, retired, with lots of disposable income, non-ethnic gardeners. So much is missing… and there is so much they could do to make these shows really meaningful to the majority of gardeners, not just the stereotype. [All this while being profitable]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *