Gardening predictions for 2013
1. The exotic veg garden for Londoners
Gardeners are now growing an astonishing 70:30 ratio of veg to flowers, says seed company Suttons, seeking different as well as delicious edibles to impress tastebuds and neighbours. This year, bypass the banal and go for the exotics: check out James Wong's Homegrown Revolution range at Suttons for callaloo (the Caribbean spinach), quinoa, rat's tails radish, tomatillo and the luscious grape-size watermelon, cucamelon.
Alongside the raspberries, Londoners with sheltered gardens could try Chilean guava, the choice of River Cottage's maverick gardener Mark Diacono, who says the fruits taste of kiwi and strawberry with a tang of sherbet. Find yours at burncoose.co.uk.
2. The Chelsea Flower Show's centenary year
The Chelsea Flower Show will be celebrating its centenary year in May — for this time only, gnomes will be allowed into the showground — and highlights include B&Q's Forget-me-not Garden, promoting Prince Harry's charity, Sentebale. However, Tim Richardson, founder of the anarchic Chelsea Fringe that filled our city with fun and flowers last summer, is talking about the possibility of Battersea Power Station as a garden venue, and an upsidedown orchard suspended over London among its horticultural splendours for us to savour this year. The Chelsea Flower Show had better look to its 100-year-old laurels.
3. Grow wild flowers and mow a meadow
The glorious marigold-studded meadow at the Olympic Park has inspired many of us to trade the turf for a sea of wild flowers, but the results can be disappointing, if not disastrous. What helps is to know your soil type — London's prevalent clay soil needs a mix that is specially suited. See wildflowerlawnsandmeadows.com for different blends as well as an on-site advisory service.
Alternatively, simply roll out a meadow. Wildflower Turf delivers 50 per cent wild flowers, 50 per cent grasses; see wildflowerturf.co.uk and order a roll-out green roof for the garden shed at the same time.
Bare patches of earth, meanwhile, can be sown with Sarah Raven's new and imaginative Jewel Cut Flower Meadow mix, which gives the effect of a natural meadow with garden hybrids, including marigold Orange King, and has colours that are reminiscent, says Raven, of a stained glass window (sarahraven.com).
- © GAP Photos/Matteo Carassale
4. Composite decking
We will have the choice of composite decking — made from reclaimed plastic and wood that might otherwise go into landfill — over less eco-friendly hardwoods. See trex.com for great-looking examples of mixed-medium boards.
5. Full-frontal attacks: community gardening
Gardeners have always been a friendly bunch, and community gardening, where neighbours pitch in to green up their surroundings, will be ever-more prevalent this year, along with thrifty seed saving and friendly plant swapping. Those living in streets with shameful front gardens should take a frond from Fern Alder's book.
Tired of her neighbourhood's messy streets, the garden designer founded a clean-up project called Full Frontal, dropping fliers through doors and distributing plants and bulbs; now eight streets in Rochester, Kent, are transformed and a communal area at the end of Alder's road that was a dumping ground is home to a National Collection of 20 different buddleias. To stir the spirit of your local community, join the RHS grassroots campaign, It's Your Neighbourhood, by visiting rhs.org.uk/getinvolved.
6. Eco gardening tools
The new Eco Gardening range from Burgon & Ball, the Sheffield-based leader in garden tools, includes a compost aerator, bath water siphon and stainless steel plant food maker: all you need supply are the nettles. Visit burgonandball.com.
7. Keeping it green
Sustainability and green gardening are becoming increasingly important, and with this in mind, more of us will incorporate bird roosts, bug hotels, beehives and even bat boxes alongside the essential compost heap, however small the patch. See wigglywigglers.co.uk for urban-friendly wildlife habitats.