Andrew Fisher Tomlin gives us the lowdown on UK garden design trends in 2015.
Every year the glossy garden magazines ask me what we are likely to see on the garden catwalk in the next 12 months. Being close to the show gardens and with some good connections across the design, landscape and plant professions we reveal the emerging trends.
In 2015, design trends continue to develop on sustainable and cultural levels in terms of the development of new materials with some fantastic new timbers such as sheet Accoya and flexible patterned timber that will change how we use timber in the garden.
A growing interest in recycling is leading to immediate rather than processed recycling of some materials such as breaking down old machinery into water features or even using existing structures such as old gas towers to grow plants in community settings.
At the top end of the design market the Brits are following the example of the Aussies with a growing trends towards outdoor showers supporting a strong return to outdoor pools, pool houses and spas. Styling these features has never been easy but there is resurgence in old techniques such as Portuguese pavements that use much smaller units of paving for more intricate patterns.
Subterranean rooms including pools beneath gardens and actual subterranean office and garden rooms reminiscent of hobbit houses that are starting to be requested by clients who see underground houses in the media and want to maintain the amount of garden they have within small spaces over their garden rooms.
Planting design trends are shifting quite fast now towards a more considered combination of trees, conifers, shrubs and perennials rather than endless meadows of perennials. This is being driven by a preference to create more impactful, lasting and sustainable interest through the year and long-term investment in planting. Designers are looking towards their horticultural roots rather than to overseas trends that have not proved successful over the past few years with variable winters. A good example of this is the inspiration from lowland heathland planting into schemes that value shrubs such as Ulex europea and trees.
Indeed there is a general interest in country settings and with gardens coming up at Chelsea such as Jo Thompson’s rural retreat for the Show Sponsor M&G, we are likely to see a revival in the influence of the traditional small country garden.
Where perennial grasses continue to be used designers have become bored with single species plantings on a huge scale and there is a development to use more unusual structural shrubs such as Yucca amongst the straw colours of grasses like Pennisetum and strong colours such as gold and deep reds both found in roses whose popularity continues to rise.
Gardening itself also has its own trends and not only are people gardening together increasingly by sharing gardens and allotments they are looking at new ways of gardening such as forest gardening imported from regions such as Indonesia and on another technological level using GPS for anything from planting to watering to hedge cutting.
Trends are in themselves gradual changes but because communities are gardening together the influence of designers is being overtaken by grass roots gardening and a desire to get more from the landscapes and plants that we use. As a result its less likely that we will see any big fashionable trends in 2015 but more a move towards a relaxed style where rurality and the individual merits of shrubs in particular will be more valued.