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CAROLE McCRAY: What's new in the new year

on December 29, 2013 1:50 AM

The garden may be at rest but die-hard gardeners are leafing through the latest catalogs arriving in the mail spotlighting new trends, plants and products.

Here are a few of the latest gardening trends that I received from Garden Media that promises to impact gardening habits in the new year and beyond:

Recycling food scraps and creating compost is the new recycling.

Edibles are going to be the next level with foodies growing everything from quinoa to dandelions.

Using blueberries and raspberries to craft cocktails and smoothies is one way to drink your garden.

Bees are the buzz and on the minds of the environmentally aware consumer’s mind, inspiring them to plant native, pollen rich flowers, trees and veggies to provide safe shelter.

Cultivating exotic plants in their gardens finds people growing the world and also staying with what is local to their own region.

Forget neat clean lines and look for bursts of color in triangular, circular and square shapes to dominate design.

Gardens are showing up in offices, schools and hospitals — a good trend since plants make us smarter, more productive and less stressed.

Gardens are at our fingertips and have gone high-tech with mobile apps and technology.

Plant a tree and enjoy the environmental, emotional and economical benefits to plant and care for a tree.

When asked what’s the biggest trend of 2014, Suzi McCoy, founder of Media Group, believes balance is the biggest trend of the upcoming year. She said, “Almost every trend we identified in our report this year has a contrasting element, and to balance the trend of colors, geometric shapes and fractions, simple elegance will return.” Gardeners will see the colors of black and white dominating the scene, and one color plant in a modernist planter.

For gardeners who start from seed, check out the 2014 seed packets with certified organic seeds from Renee’s Garden. Packaged in lovely watercolor-illustrated packets, there are nearly two dozen varieties of seeds. Some are heirloom varieties and can be found at customerservice@reneesgarden.com, or check to see if your local garden center or nursery can order them.

The following are a few to tempt you to try some new plants from seed:

• Heirloom poppies such as Lauren’s Dark Grape comes in shades of deep purple and can grow from 3 to 5 feet tall. With lettuce-like, blue-gray leaves and port wine colored flowers, this is an annual poppy to have for the spring garden.

• For an edible landscape, consider Gourmet Chard, Peppermint Stick, with hot pink and white stalks. Harvest at baby leaf stage. This chard can be interesting in the landscape.

• Heirloom Cutting Lettuce, Flashy Trout Back, is splashed in deep red against a bright green background. The lettuce will have a pretty speckled appearance at seedling stage.

More new plants of interest to gardeners are from The All-America Selections for 2014. Bean Mascotte and Gaura Sparkle White were winners. From Kieft Seed comes Bean Mascotte, ideal in window boxes, containers or small space gardens with a growth habit of 16 to 18 inches tall. Beautiful and elegant is Gaura Sparkle White, a compact perennial and ideal as a container plant or a bedding plant. Hardy to zone 6, it works as an annual in colder zones.

As always, both of these winners were trialed next to other similar varieties that are currently on the market. The AAS judges grew each entry and did a comparison of growth habit, taste and a resistance to disease to determine if these were truly better than those already available to home gardeners. Customers will find the Bean Mascotte seed available with catalog companies, in seed packets, from mail order companies and various websites. Gaura White Sparkle will be available as a young plant in lawn and garden retail stores in the spring of 2014.

For gardeners, the best New Year’s resolution might be to see how some of the latest gardening trends and products can benefit you and your garden. And, your list of resolutions might include a new plant or two for your garden space.

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