Top garden trends for 2019 Polytunnel vision
4. KEEP UPCYCLING 1. GO TROPICAL
WE’VE had a year of greening up the urban landscape, cacti craziness and working out how to reduce plastics in gardening in 2018, but what’s going to be trending for the New Year?
Louise Golden, head of garden at Dobbies Garden Centres, predicts the Afrique tropical look is going to be big next year.
“People are going for a big, lush feel to their gardens, depending on where they are living. If they’re further south, they can 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.”
2. BOOST URBAN SPACES
Living walls are still popular for those who have little space and need to grow plants vertically, says Golden.
“They’re really easy to install and you can buy self-watering units,” she adds. “You can use them outside on balconies or to green garage walls.”
Put outside lights above them to add emphasis, and grow herbs in them, which you can add to barbecued foods and salads in summer. Self-watering containers and window boxes will continue to gain popularity in 2019.
3. SET THE MOOD WITH SMART LIGHTING
Use carefully positioned lighting to pull your focus to a specific area in your garden, turning a tree into a prominent feature, suggest landscape designers the Rich brothers, Harry and Dave, who work on BBC1’s Garden Rescue and have teamed up with Signify lighting.
They suggest using colour to transform your outdoor space for any occasion, whether it’s a warm white light for a cosy evening or some bright tones to accentuate a feature.
Golden says: “One trend that we saw last year was upcycling – people taking an item such as a chest of drawers that they’d painted, and then opening the drawers at various levels and planting it up. That’s set to continue.
“I’ve also seen a trend with upcycled enamelled containers used for planting things like chillis.”
5. ZONE IN WITH LOW WALLING
The Riches say that creating “rooms” or divisions in an outdoor space has become a trend in its own right, adding structure and a sense of complexity to any garden. The brothers often match the same texture and tone of a low wall to the house, using the same or similar stone.
Low walls can define and act as boundaries to certain spaces, or they can double up as seating. They provide structure and height, zoning different sections for various uses, and, if they are subtly lit, can show off form and structure, the brothers say.
6. CREATE NORDIC CALM
“This is where the garden is a lot more calming,” says Golden. “It’s green, with glossy foliage and is mainly evergreens, so it’s quite tidy, with clean lines.
“It works really well for people who don’t have much time, as it’s low-maintenance,” she adds. White hydrangeas could be added for cool colour.
“Large-leafed plants such as Fatsia japonica and lush green ferns work really well in these schemes,” Golden says.
APOLYTUNNEL is my lifeline to a longer growing season and tender summer veg. It opens up possibilities I could never enjoy when living in higher, more marginal ground.
In warmer sheltered parts of the country, a tunnel acts just as a greenhouse does for me. But, in a balmier spot, you’ll need to be sure the temperature or humidity isn’t too high.
Ideally you’ll have a dryish atmosphere that reduces the risk of blight developing on tomato foliage and guarantees a fine ripe crop of peppers, chillies and aubergines.
At 200 metres, I grow fast-maturing bush tomatoes, sweetcorn and cucumbers which I’d find impossible outdoors. And overwintering endives, lettuce and chard stand a much greater chance of pulling through an icy spell.
My beds are never empty: they’re the only ones that give me two or three crops a year. So, wherever you live, if you’ve the space, start the year by planning for a new tunnel.
You may not have much choice about where to put your new toy but, ideally, look for a sheltered, sunny place.
Tunnels can and do take some battering, but severe gusts will distort the supporting ribs, thereby putting pressure on the polythene skin.
The structure gets best protection when the narrow entrance directly faces the prevailing wind, and plants benefit when the long side is south-facing.
The base must be absolutely level, and preferably not on a slope.
But mine hasn’t come to too much harm with a slight front-to-back gradient.
A final consideration is the water supply.
For many years, I ran a garden hose from an outside tap quite successfully, but had the tunnel piped when the yard was relaid a few years ago – bliss.
Erecting a polytunnel is highly skilled, requiring at least two people, so, unless you’re a DIY expert and have a meticulous eye for detail, I’d recommend engaging a professional.
I found even replacing the skin after last winter’s snow was pretty demanding, especially as gales had slightly distorted one of the ribs.
Water, weeds and wind are the points to consider when running a polytunnel.
Although the structure needs to be protected against the weather, some air circulation is essential as it guards against fusts and helps control temperature.
A still atmosphere makes