Landscape Trends for 2017
Like many other industries that are based on design, landscaping follows trends. Perhaps the fashions in plants don’t come and go as quickly as those on the runway, but they certainly evolve. Two decades ago, color was king, and landscapes featured lots of red, yellow and blue foliage. Planting schemes relied heavily upon material that kept its foliage through the winter, and still provided spring or summer color. Those plants tended to be stiff and unchanging, and were pruned to maintain the same shape season after season. Today, ‘green’, ‘organic’ and ‘native’ are the new buzzwords. After years of self-conscious formality, landscape design is embracing plants that change with the seasons, move with the wind, shelter birds and bees or even provide a meal. Whimsy has snuck in through the back gate, and clients are requesting landscape features that are, well, just more FUN! Here are three great concepts that we’re working into our landscape plans this season:
Go green with ‘Greenery’
Every year the Pantone Color Institute announces their Color of the Year, and for 2017 iiiiiiiiiii’s…. Greenery!
I’m thrilled, because landscape designers love green. No matter how much color we’re asked to bring into a landscape, green is always the hue we rely on to tie the elements of design together. With color a given, the more subtle attributes of plants can be explored and enjoyed. Branching structure, growth habit, leaf shape, bracts, bark, seed heads – each of these can make a green plant truly extraordinary. We’re happy to have clients who are asking for more from their plants than flower color, and are truly interested in all qualities of a plant and how those qualities will impact their outdoor spaces over time.
Many of the old-fashioned green plants that have been snubbed in recent years are making a triumphant return, and we happily recommend turning a patch of shade-weakened lawn into a dense and textural bed of Pachysandra. It’s resilient, evergreen, deer-resistant, and is a surprisingly lovely cut flower, massed in a striking container. The ubiquitous fern is also making a comeback. Plant growers are offering cultivars for shade and sun in a wide array of sizes, textures and every color you can imagine, as long as that color is GREEN. A colonized mass of ferns makes a beautiful border along the edge of a woodland, and requires no care at all. This year, think about how much further you can go with Greenery.
Pots with a punch
Perhaps it’s the tepid offerings of the local big box stores, or the start-and-stop economic climate, but it’s been years since I’ve seen pots planted with exuberance and imagination. We’ve come to rely upon the same petunias and geraniums for summer-long color, and while they do what’s expected of them, they hardly stop one in one’s tracks. This year, I look forward to building container gardens that really sing.
One key to creating amazing pots is selecting plants that change over the course of the summer, and adding new plants to replace faded glory. Herbs chosen for their purple, yellow or variegated foliage will often flower later in the summer, adding a surprising color to the mix. Vegetables flower and then produce fruit; a potted tomato plant loaded with ripe, summer offerings is so much more exciting than a basket of begonias. Underplant the tomato with old-fashioned nasturtiums that cascade over the edge, and you have a dazzling color combo that goes right into a salad bowl. Then the tomato plants begin to wither, pop in some fiery peppers for fall interest.
Traditional house plants were a decorating staple in the 70’s, but their allure faded over the next few decades. A pair of fiddle leaf figs flanking a shady patio can be very dramatic, especially with frothy Euphorbia at their feet. The tiny white Euphorbia flowers add just enough sparkle to the green palette, and the large leaves of the fig are a stand-out. Bromeliads are also show-stoppers, with wide leaves in rainbow colors. There are so many choices for outstanding pots, if one is willing to look outside the box (store)
Big kid playgrounds
Following the trend towards more purposeful use of outdoor spaces, clients are re-imagining their yards and creating extravagant play areas – for adults. Across the country, there’s a rise in the installation of bocce courts, ice rink, putting greens and elaborately constructed entertainment areas. Much the same as the comfy old den has morphed into the sophisticated media room, backyards- excuse me, ‘outdoor living spaces’ – are taking on a polish and sheen.
And why not? Kids’ sports and activities have shifted from their own backyards, to become scheduled events on regulation fields. The lawn, for many, is just the green swatch seen from the kitchen window, mown weekly and largely forgotten. But oh! The possibilities! And if you want it, we can build it.
Your smartest first step is a consultation with one of our landscape designers. We look at the whole picture, and we will work with you to properly site your new outdoor addition. As designers, we stay mindful of all the important elements: transition spaces, focal points, privacy screening, views, placement of mechanical necessities and maintenance requirements, to name just a few. Enhancement with plant material brings the project to life.
Whether you’re in the market for a fresher look from your current landscaping, or considering a major backyard project or simply want pots that transcend the ordinary, give DLTC a call. Ask for Jon, Dave or Pat, and let’s get started!