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Garden Trends


Victorian Garden Tours and Victoria’s Garden Trends

The following is a summary of some of the recent garden trends. Join us on an interpretive tour of our wonderful private and public gardens to see how our creative gardeners in Victoria are interpreting these trends. With more and more gardeners wanting to be actively involved in creating their own gardens there is a desire for increased background knowledge and inspiration. This has resulted in Garden Tours themselves becoming a major trend. We have provided on this website detailed profiles of some of the plantings you will find in these ever evolving gardens. Please visit these garden descriptive pages for more examples.

Garden Trends

Drought Tolerant Gardening

One of the major trends in gardening today is the creation of plantings that are able to withstand water restrictions.  We are in a cool transitional Mediterranean or sub-Mediterranean climatic zone with an average of 610mm (24 inches) of rain in a  year and without the heat that is experienced in many areas.  When our temperatures increase beyond the norm or we have a dry winter (when the majority of our rain occurs) we feel an empathy with our fellow gardening enthusiasts who are dealing with extreme temperature and drought.  The following are some images from one of our Mediterranean themed gardens taken in the fall.  On the left there is the use of Phlomis fruiticosa  (Jeruselum sage) and catanche (cupid dart) for the interest of their seedheads.  The middle image of a tiered planter featuring sedums and succulents with a young yucca planted on the top.  The right has a theme of blues and silvers through the use of stachys and fescue with the contrast of bronze carex.



Mediterranean planting including Phlomis fruticosa (Jeruselum sage) catanche caerula and artimesia

Mediterranean formal container including sedums, and succulents, drought tolerant plant combination


 The following picture taken at a private garden that was selected Canada’s number one residential garden it is of an Aegean style container in a planting that includes  Pervorskia (Russian sage) , Verbina, and a Yucca .  This pot was imported from the Mediterranean where it was submerged in the ocean where over time barnacles grew on its surface which were then sanded down to leave a beautiful patina.
Aegean style container with Pervorskia, yucca and verbena
Personalized Garden Trend: One of the major trends identified by the Garden Writers of America is the desire to be actively involved in creating their own garden. They want to develop personalized gardens that have immediate impact, low maintenance and offer year round interest.

Outdoor living space Trend: There is a desire to bring nature into the home and to flow into the outdoors with welcoming outdoor rooms that have been designed to meet the individual’s life style needs. The new range of fabrics and materials suitable for outdoor use has provided the opportunity to furnish the outdoor space with a new level of sophistication. This enhanced use of the outdoors has given rise to a new emphasis upon the role of lighting in the garden.To be a sanctuary from the outside world the garden should provide fragrance, sound (whether through the rustling of grasses or the sound of a fountain) and tactility. The walls can be clothed in greenery to provide a sense of enclosure while the floor is designed for year-round access.

Garden art and accent trends: Quality pieces of art and accents selected to personalize the garden and to add extra year round interest. (material trends range from the use of glass and resin materials to concrete, metal, and mosaics). Introducing the trend colours through hits of bold colour accent also continues as a trend.

Trendy Plants!

A Recent Plant of the year: Hellebore hybridius has been chosen by the Perennial Plant Association as outstanding perennial for garden use. The criteria included the following:

  • multiple season interest
  • easily propagated
  • low maintenance
  • suitable for a wide range of climates
close up looking up at painted hellebore blooms

hellebore hybridius

This plant has evergreen tropical like large leaves and with its newly introduced colours and flower type (including doubles) can be massed in drifts of jewel toned colours ranging through light pink , rose pink, magenta (pink-purple) , rose/mauve, fuchsia (red-purple) coral/apricot chartreuse (yellow-green) pale green, rose/mauve, white cream/tan, creamy yellow to dark purple black.

Clematis -A trendy plant family

This versatile family of plants provide verticality to the deeply layered border (new trend is to grow through shrubs), some such as Cl.Lemon Bells gives the bonus of purple stems, they can be selected for a long period of bloom (some such as Clematis ‘Betty Balfour’ bloom twice!), there are new introductions for use as container subjects and some such as Cl. Guernsey Cream provide wonderful ‘metallic’ seedhead interest. There are evergreen forms such as Armandii and some such as Cl.Wilsonii provide fragrance!

Southern Hemisphere Plants Trend: Architectural plants such as Resitos (Cape Reeds from South Africa), Cordylines, and Phormiums are great container subjects. Together with the popular New Zealand tree fern they contribute to the tropical look and where hardy they provide year round foliage interest. Members of the bottle brush (callistemon) family and the New Zealand native Lobster claw/Parrot’s bill. (clianthus puniceus) are drought tolerant while acacias bloom in late winter and early spring.

Compact shrubs – Newly introduced dwarf forms of shrubs and trees for town gardens and container plantings provides an opportunity for layered plantings in a small space. Introductions include a compact Koreanspice Viburnum (Viburnum carlesii ‘Compactum’), hydrangea, Butterfly bush (buddleia) Mock orange (philadelphus) and cotinus to name but a few!.

Specialty annuals that can be integrated into the mixed border. These plants tend to be purchased as larger plants for more immediate impact.

All perennials are hot! This trend emphasis low maintenance plants that will contribute to year round foliage interest in a deeply layered planting. As a reflection of the Heritage Trend this includes improved varieties of old fashioned classic plants is a parallel trend that is growing strong.

Trend Foliage colour and texture: Given the short period of bloom and the desire to have a long period of interest, foliage and stem colour of all plants has taken on an important role. The foliage of the Persicaria Red Dragon with its plum-colored leaves accented by chevrons in shades of red, mint green, silver, and burgundy are as vibrant as any bloom.

Layered Perennial Planting.

The use of dark purple and black foliage plants continues as a trend (The Black Plant Society of Great Britain has named the ‘ever-black’ Black Mondo Grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘nigrescens’)). . There are the glaucus blue-grey, gray and silver leafed plants which can work well in the Mediterranean garden.. The Tropical garden gets an extra zing from the vibrant hues of the large leafed Cannas. Gold foliage takes on an important role in shade while variegation can be used to knit the plantings together.Trend Winter: Interest is obtained through the use of evergreen plants, an emphasis on colour and texture of foliage and bark as well as seedheads, berries and the shape of the plant. Here in this winter planting we see all of these elements combined.

Trends as interpreted in the gardens of Victoria.

Photo of Barton Leier Gallery / Garden. Photo by Joan Looy.

Drought Tolerance: This has stayed an important international trend. As well as utilizing native plants and southern hemisphere plants there has been a continuing trend of gravel gardens, utilization of the Mediterranean plants, sedums, succulents and other drought tolerant plants as well as adapting the Japanese concept of the Zen Garden and the Dry Stream Bed. (see Drought Tolerant Garden and Salt Spring Garden for examples of drought tolerant plantings)

Verticality Trend

The trend of verticality is important for many reasons. One is given the desire for privacy in our new urban environment with smaller yards, balconies and patios. Another is the desire to create for ourselves a multi-layered garden of year round interest.

Butchart Gardens Jewel Box Container Click here for more information.

Container Gardening Trend: This is a trend that can provide more flexibility in gaining the tropical look and utilizing southern hemisphere plants. It can also allow one to rotate the plantings into the home since increasing use of houseplants is yet another trend!

Water feature Trend: Water features of all kinds including container water gardens and wall fountains continue as a strong trend.

Planting Trends for the creation of the multi-layered border: Trend Roses, tulips, specialty annuals, grasses and vegetables (some developed for extra ornamental value) are all being planted in combination with perennials, shrubs, and trees that have been selected for their interesting foliage and texture which extends the period of interest for the planting.

Tropical trend through the use of containers, indoor-outdoor plants and hardy plants with a tropical look has continued as a strong trend. Large leafed colourful plants such as the canna, have retained their popularity as part of this trend. Other plants such as the Fatsia and members of the dahlia family have found themselves back in demand.

New Romantic Trend: There is a continuing search for romanticism, glamour and sensuousness in lush plantings.

The Heritage Trend coninues with classic garden structures and art, (including the interpretation of follies), structures made of natural materials including pebbles and sustainable wood such as willow., heritage plant selections (including the Dove Tree) and gardening techniques such as espaliering all reflected a connection to past gardening traditions.

This heather planting at the Horticultural Center of the Pacific features the new introductions that have year round vibrant foliage so year round interest is maintained beyond the blooming period. One of the trend colours continues to be pink in all its tones is reinforced through the painting of a bench

The Massed plantings Trend assists with garden design and maintenance.The Monochromatic planting Trend using tone on tones has stayed popular as people create their signature gardens.

Colour Trends: Chelsea Heritage Garden trends placed an emphasis on classic white, white and blue combinations as well as yellow and monochromatic green. The Tropical Garden trend has maintained the trend of the hot colours including orange and yellow. The Romantic Garden trend has contributed to pink and purple in all their tones have maintaining their popularity. Blue stays a perennial favourite.

Colour Green Trend

An emphasis on foliage rather than flowers continues as a major theme. Native plants, the trend setting southern hemisphere plants and grasses were incorporated into some of these gardens Moss in the landscape and the Japanese gardens have both remained popular.

Environmental trends: The maintenance of bio-diversity and wildlife habitat, environmental sensitivity including the use of organic gardening practices, integrating native plants into the landscape and designing gardens that more closely replicate nature. The growing of organic fruits and vegetables including heirloom species continues to be a strong theme.

Bold European Design Trend

This is a style of gardening that reflects the influence of Northern Europe. It focuses upon utilizing plants that are more closely related to their original species that can be left standing through the winter with plant form and seed heads that will be etched by whore frost. There is not only the colour of bloom but also the interplay of colour, shape and foliage texture, which has been enhanced through a great use of grasses. (see Heritage Garden for examples of this design trend).

Green Roof Trend: In response to environmental concerns the green roof trend continues to grow, This stone garage with the green roof (accented in spring by spring bulbs) was the creation of a gardener whose home had been Norway an area where, as elsewhere in Europe, green roofs have a long tradition. This is an extensive style of green roof that has low maintenance needs.

Public space gardening Trend is an ongoing tradition in the Victoria, the city of gardens, where parks were designated even before the city was established.

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