Gardening Trends to Ring in the New Year

by Shannon Moreau

The first few months of the year are my absolute favorite for garden planning. I’ve had time to reflect on my triumphs, stew over my failures, and look out at my garden to daydream about the many new things I can try. Speaking of new, here are a few new trends I am ready to dig into. 

Gardens from the Dark Side Of The Moon

Gone are gardens restricted to muted tones. Here comes the palette of moody purples, deep reds, chilling blues, and stunning blacks of the trend commonly referred to as ‘goth gardening’. Whether you are a fan of gothic fiction, want to bring out your inner Wednesday Addams, or just want to switch things up and refresh your beds, this trend is perfect for you. For shadier gardens try Black Pearl Heuchera, Starship Rose Lobelia, Chocolate Shogun Astilbe, and Black Mondo Grass. Pair those with purple-leaved shrubs like many different weigela and the new Endless Summer Hydrangea ‘Eclipse’. For sunnier beds Men In Black Iris, Black Beard Penstemon, Perfect Storm Hibiscus planted with red leafed barberries (I am especially fond of the hints of pink on the purple leaves of Rose Glow), Ink Spot Rose, and Royal Purple Smokebush will do the trick. 

There are multiple options for annual beds and vegetable gardens, too. Purple-leaved ornamental sweet potato vines, purple-leaved ornamental peppers, black petunias, and halloween pansies are wonderful annual options for containers. Dark fruited tomatoes like cherokee purple, red lettuce, and purple peas and beans are even better. To make these plantings pop, pair these darker tones with bright chartreuse foliage or keep it cool toned with vibrant purples, blues, and dusty pinks. 

Gardens for dried arrangements

Cut flower gardens are common but it has been a treat seeing the rise in dried arrangements and decorations that extend the enjoyment of our beautiful blossoms throughout the entire year. Preserving gardens in this fashion allows for their transformation into art, perfect for gifting to others or simply as another way to reminisce on the beauty from the season. Dried flowers and foliage can be hung upside down to keep their form or pressed. A few fan favorites for pressing are pansies/violas, cosmos, larkspur, baby’s breath, clematis, and stock. Easy starter plants that retain their shape when dried are roses, hydrangeas, delphiniums, gomphrena, and strawflower. Certainly don’t forget to press foliage as well! Fern leaves, grasses, and columbine leaves are exceptionally beautiful. 

This list is a good starting point, but the best part about planting for pressing and drying gardens is experimenting with other plants or varieties. You may also want to look at the seed heads for interest rather than the blooms. Poppy pods, scabiosa seed heads, caryopteris seed heads, allium seed heads, and dried rose hips all spring to mind.

Go wild with your garden and emphasize pollinators

Gardens inspired and driven by our native plants are still going strong, and this year is the perfect opportunity to either include native plants into your designs or take the first steps in changing over your landscape to include native species. As our communities grow it is important to take care of our tiny neighbors–from the mason bees to the chickadees! While putting up a bird feeder is helpful it isn’t the same as providing the plants that feed them–either the plants themselves or the insects attracted to them–or provide shelter. Focusing on pollinators also means maintenance may look slightly different in the off season. Many pollinators use leaf litter and perennial stems as overwintering locations and shelters. Allow these little guys to enjoy these resting places and look forward to seeing them in the spring. At Fort Collins Nursery, we are excited to expand our native perennial and shrub selection this upcoming year and can hardly wait to see where they get planted.

These are just a few of the upcoming trends for this year, but I highly encourage you to explore even more options and ideas. Outside of new varieties, look out for eye-catching subjects in gardening magazines, check out podcasts or shows on plants new to you, or attend a workshop on a skill you’d like to learn or improve. Even if it isn’t new to 2024, trying things that are new to your garden is important to keep you growing as a gardener! We look forward to growing with you this year.

Originally published on January 4th, 2024.