National Gardening Week (April 29-May 5) is the perfect time to turn your attention to your outside space…
As we look forward to the season ahead, we asked resident gardening expert at Dobbies, Louise Golden, to share her top tips, trend insights and planting advice.
Here, Louise shares exclusive “behind the scenes” insights into the work behind the garden centres’ colourful displays, the new ranges arriving soon and what’s set to be popular in gardens across the country for the year ahead.
Q&As With Louise
If you had to choose, what is your favourite season, and why?
Definitely spring and the anticipation of the gardening year ahead. Hellebores (Lenten Roses) and Prunus Kojo no Mai are the first to put on a show in my garden. But it’s the vibrant colours of tulips contrasting with the rich purples of drifts of Honesty that signal to me that soon the garden will explode into a tapestry of colour with the emergence of herbaceous perennials that have been lying dormant over the winter months.
The unfurling of fresh new leaves beneath branches laden in the majestic blooms of Magnolia never fails to delight.
Many months of work have gone into the getting the spring/summer range ready, can you tell us a little more about the journey from inspiration and planning stages to arriving in stores?
Dobbies plant buyers work closely with growers and breeders, visiting plant shows and trial grounds, to select the best performing and reliable new varieties that will give our customers great results and value for money.
Trend setting flower shows such as Chelsea showcase new plants and inspirational gardening ideas that we strive to capture in our offering. Taking account of long-standing trends such as wellbeing, grow your own, plants for dry soils and small spaces are all areas we consider in our planning.
Are there any new varieties to look out for in 2019?
Hydrangeas have huge appeal, and this year we are pleased to offer Hydrangea Runaway Bride – RHS Chelsea Flower Show Plant of the Year 2018. It carries a profusion of white lace-cap flowers from June to September.
Cottage Garden plants continue to grow in popularity and a new foxglove, Digitalis Panther Pink, bears masses of light pink flowers over a very long flowering season.
Sunflower (Helianthus) Sunbelievable won 3rd place in RHS Chelsea flower show plant of the year competition. Flowering from June to November, it is a compact multi-branched variety smothered in bright yellow flowers.
Clematis Meghan – named in celebration of the 2018 Royal Wedding – has dark purply-red flowers in May-June and again in July-September.
Rose Emily Bronte from David Austin – a new introduction, soft pink in colour with a strong fragrance.
For the grow your own enthusiasts is Blackberry Purple Opal and Raspberry Ruby Beauty – both patio varieties suitable for growing on your terrace.
Succulents and houseplants have continued to be popular, is this something which will grow in 2019 or is there a new trend you predict for the year ahead?
Yes, this trend will definitely continue as we all become more aware of the positive effects of including plants in our home and office spaces, for both their wellbeing and air purifying properties.
The trend for hanging plants and maximising wall space will develop, particularly for those living in more urban areas, keen to bring the outdoors in. The easy to care for nature of cacti and succulents is perfect for those with busy lives.
We are excited to launch our new range of hardy cacti called Opuntia or Prickly Pears for 2019. Hardy in the coldest of winter months or in the scorching summer heat, with our ever-changing weather we think there will be even more interest in cacti and succulents, as they can be planted outside in pots to add a tropical feel to your terrace.
The tropical “Afrique” look is going to be big this year. People are going for a big, lush feel to their gardens, depending on where they are living. If they’re further South, the better climate will allow on-trend gardeners to do that in their gardens, while in the North, they can plant in pots and pull them into sheltered places.
Big, dramatic plants – such as Cordylines, Canna lilies and hardy Palms – are going to be on-trend, and richly-coloured foliage bedding plants, such as Coleus with amazing leaf patterns, will give gardens that wow factor.
What do you predict will be the biggest sellers this year?
Looking stunning in both a contemporary and cottage garden setting, we predict the RHS Chelsea Flower Show Plant of the Year 2018, the Hydrangea Runaway Bride, to be one of the top picks for 2019.
We are seeing Hydrangeas in general growing in popularity, due in part to their ease of care and long-lasting flower display.
Louise’s Top 5 Gardening Trend Predictions For 2019
1. Tropical plants
Plants such as succulents, Houseleeks, Aeonium, Cordylines, Canna Lilies, Colocasia, Agapanthus will feature heavily as gardener look for plants tolerant of dry conditions.
2. Plants for wildlife
Dobbies we will be stocking the new variety Buddleja Berries and Cream as demand grows for plants to attract bees and butterflies. Packed full of cone-shaped clusters of flowers, these are a real magnet for insects.
3. Grow Your Own for healthy eating
As more and more of us look to include additional vegetables in our diet and the number of people on exclusively plant-based diets increases, easy to grow vegetables, salads and herbs suitable for growing in small spaces such as wall planters and patio containers will rise.
4. Hanging gardens
Macramé hangers are making a comeback with a contemporary and modern twist.
5. Grouping plants to create a mini indoor garden
Contemporary pot covers to reflect your interior style is a look that continues to be on-trend.
Big For 2019 – Edible Living Wall
With the theme for this year’s National Gardening Week being Edible Britain, this brilliant idea for an edible take on the living wall trend is the perfect way to think big in a small garden, patio or even on a balcony.
It means even if you are limited on ground space, you can still make a statement and maximise growing potential. The living wall planters come in sets of 3 pots, meaning you can go as big or small as required. Install a living wall and use it to create a collage of colour or an edible bounty of herbs, vegetables or fruit.
Easy Steps to Bring Your Living Wall To Life
- Choose a location in your garden – from walls and fences to patios and balconies.
- Select your plants and slot your planters into place. Use an electric screwdriver and work from the bottom up, attaching the plastic planters to the battens on every third row in staggered rows.
- Get watering – starting at the top, use a hosepipe or watering can to water the wall. The reservoir system is designed to keep plants watered for up to two weeks, so looking after your wall is easy.
- Start planting your living wall – fill the planters with your chosen plants. Remove them from their pots and plant them in the planters. Or if you’d prefer to keep them in the pot (so you can swap plants out easily as and when you need to) then simply make sure the pot touches the reservoir base in each planter.
- Step back and admire your work. Remember to water your wall every two weeks for best results.