Food, birds, bees, wildflowers and sturdy little shrubs - English gardeners must be using the same crystal ball as we are here in the Northwest. In an article in Telegraph.co.uk, the predictions of leading Brit gardeners sound familiar...except that their garden centers are flourishing, and they remain shell-shocked after suffering through the wettest summer ever.
A golden-toned wildflower meadow at the Olympic Park in London was a spectacular focal point for the Games. And no wonder - the meadow was the size of ten football fields! I think the designers' decision to scatter seeds of warm colored flowers, especially during a summer that turned out to be particularly wet and dreary, made the sight so astounding. Picture this in shades of pink and lavender - not nearly the same impact...
Not everyone is convinced. “A wild, meadowy and weedy look will remain fashionable until people realise how difficult it is to make it work in a suburban garden along with the barbecue and kids’ football,” says one gardener. And how about invasiveness? Wildflowers tend to spread beyond where you plant them, and persist whether you want them to or not...
Stephen Lacey brings the discussion back to lower maintenance plants; “I would like to see a rediscovery of shrubs,” he says. “They have been booted into the shadows by the grasses and perennial movement and are now well overdue a revival.”
And I love Sarah Raven's concise focus, "“I’m only interested in three ways of gardening: productive, pollinator-friendly and trees. I want to plant more flowering shrubs and trees, low-maintenance elegant stuff that will give my garden good bones to develop and mature around.”
And despite poor harvests in the wet summer of 2012, Brits are continuing to grow-their-own food. “The turn towards self-sufficiency will continue, with more people relying on their gardens for a supply of fresh food....Gardeners will be composting, recycling and making-do. At the very least, they will grow their own herbs and salads," posits one of the experts.
The Royal Horticultural Society has launched a "Plants for Bugs" project in part to convince gardeners that not only native plants attract, feed and shelter wildlife...many ornamentals do the job as well.
The article ended on a high note..Garden Centers in England are doing more than ever to entice shoppers to hang around. Sales were up by 11% last year, in part because so many nurseries feature cafes where gardeners and non-gardeners can meet their friends and hang out year-round...and maybe pick up a plant or two on the way back to their car.