The predictions, based on horticultural trends and gardener enquiries, centre around the move towards Planet Friendly Gardening, with gardeners finding new ways to encourage even more wildlife onto their patch, trying innovative sustainable techniques to improve their soil and be water-wise. Non-traditional lawns, green landscaping and the welcoming back of previously undesirable garden visitors also make the list for 2023.
The RHS’ 2023 Gardening Predictions:
: As a warming climate causes us to dial down the central heating, houseplants will flourish. The heat and dry air of centrally heated homes isn’t good for most plants, so more unusual exotics such as Cymbdium and Dendrobium orchids and scented-leaf will perform better in a cooler home. This will give houseplant lovers the chance to try new varieties and enjoy the wellbeing benefits.
With peat-based bagged compost set to be banned in the UK in 2024, more gardeners will seek out environmentally-friendly wood-based compost alternatives. Seaweed and biochar feeds could be used to complement these alternatives. Comfrey and winter beans can be grown as green manures to help fix nitrogen and other nutrients into the soil and provide habitat and food for wildlife. Comfrey ‘Bocking 14’ can be grown and used directly as a mulch or made into a sustainable liquid feed that supports the growth of newly planted crops.
Gardening goes tech
: Apps and social media are becoming even more important as gardeners share what’s happening on their patch, participate in courses and workshops digitally and are prompted into action to plan and plant using apps. This sharing of information online will also give the added benefits of mapping plant health problems and shaping research projects. The RHS will be expanding the range of digital services offered in 2023 to meet demand and to build on the popularity of the RHS The Garden magazine app.
: Herbs are a cheap and easy way for people to add extra flavour to meals, and searches for herbs were up almost 600% this autumn, compared to 2021. The most sought after varieties were classics such as mint and coriander, with the addition of more unusual varieties including edible flowers and lemon balm. Most herbs are easy to grow from seed, providing another cost saving, and can be sown indoors from March-April and outside from April-August. Many culinary herbs are hardy and perennial and will improve year on year.
Innovative climate-resilient gardens
: Following the heat and drought of summer, gardeners will be looking for ways to future-proof their spaces for a more extreme climate. Gravel gardens and xeriscaping (gardens designed to minimise future watering) will be popular, but a changing climate doesn’t have to mean a totally different look for gardens. There are a few swaps gardeners can make to retain the same feel, including fragrant choisya for hydrangeas and phygelius for fuchsia.
: Gardeners will be saving time by giving up parts of their lawn to pollinators and other garden wildlife, letting borders grow long or looking into lawns that require less water and maintenance. This includes tapestry lawns made up of low-lying, intertwining flowering plants such as yarrow and selfheal and mini wildflower meadows with native plants like yellow rattle and cornflower. Plants previously thought of as weeds, including dandelions, are also embraced for their ability to blend into their green surrounds. Many breeders are focusing on drought-tolerant varieties for lawns, including tall fescue grass and microclovers, which mean these lawns stay green without watering even in very dry areas.
With the cost of hard landscaping soaring, and its contribution to localised flooding, gardeners will turn to plants to add structure to their patch. Green walls, hedges and swimming ponds are all set to increase in popularity. Searches for Myrtle on the RHS website were up over 500% this autumn, and this fragrant evergreen shrub would be well suited to Mediterranean borders, hedges and screens.
: Dried and pressed flowers are very much back in fashion, making a charming addition to rooms in posies, wreaths or garlands. This is the latest in the rise in all kinds of traditions skills and crafts including natural dyes, scything and foraging. Explore the creative courses and workshops offered by the RHS at www.rhs.org.uk/education-learning/courses-workshops
Embracing nature’s unloved
: Even more traditionally unpopular species are being embraced by gardeners for the unexpected benefits they can bring. The RHS Garden Advice service is receiving more enquiries about encouraging a greater abundance of wildlife to their gardens to fend off more troublesome species – some of which have themselves been labelled garden pariahs in the past. These include wasps that will predate caterpillars, slugs that can help recycle decaying material and aphids that provide food for favourites such as ladybirds and lacewing and hoverfly larvae.
Guy Barter, RHS Chief Horticulturist, said:
“In 2022 the charity predicted the rise of red-fleshed apples which this year benefited from extreme summer temperatures making them sweeter and even more rich in colour, and confident planting with the RHS’ Flower Shows celebrating a riot of reds, purples and yellows.
“Next year we expect gardeners to garden more than ever with nature and the environment in mind, a trend that has been swelling year on year and is set to become the main concern of Britain’s gardeners.”
For more information about the RHS and its work visit: www.rhs.org.uk
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