Plants 2007: what’s in, what’s out

The latest trends for the garden will have you spending more time smelling the roses – and less time pruning them.

Low-maintenance is in
Chalk it up to our rushed lifestyles – or maybe just a desire to spend more time enjoying the roses and less pruning them – but plants that are lower-maintenance are definitely rising in popularity. Hardy shrub roses get the thumbs up over hybrid tea roses. Climbing roses, such as the John Davis Canadian explorer rose, are also a great addition.

A great low-maintenance shade-loving plant, and one of my picks this year, is bee balm. Its prolific, bright red flowers appear in early summer and last for weeks.

For a comprehensive guide to easy-care plants, try Felder Rushing’s Tough Plants for Northern Gardens: Low Care, No Care, Tried and True Winners

24-hour gardens are in
With entertaining stretching into the evening and taking place outdoors, planting so as to create an impact at night is a growing trend. The trick is to choose plants that can be experienced at night both through sight and smell. Here we look to traditional garden tricks.

A night garden contains primarily white or silver plants, as these colors reflect the most light and will glow in the light of the moon. When planning, be sure to position the plants where they will actually be bathed in moonlight. Night-fragrant plants add to the allure, such as tuberose and sweet rocket, although these bulbs may need to be dug up over the winter. Other fragrant plants such as evening primrose and soapwort are good choices.

Back to roots
Both native and heirloom plants are in this year. Native plants are often lower-maintenance as they are adapted to local soil and climate conditions, and more resistant to pests without the sprays – and they can also be beautiful. There’s also a sense of returning the land to its roots in a native-plant garden. Wild bergamot and wild columbine are two popular varieties to try this year.

Heirloom plants and new and interesting varieties of vegetables are also really hot this season. As George C. Ball, Jr., president of W. Atlee Burpee & Co., put it when speaking to an industry group, “Living a healthier lifestyle and growing your own vegetables is the new status symbol of luxury.” Special varieties of tomatoes, carrots, and other garden edibles are adding panache to both gardens and plates. Try the Purple dragon carrot for a striking addition to your plate, or the Brandywine tomato for amazing taste. Salt Spring Seeds sells many organically produces heirloom vegetable seeds at if you can’t find local seedlings (even if you may have to wait a year!)

Working extra hard
Just as BlackBerries are allowing people to both work and be on the go, plants that do double duty are definitely in this year. One example is the beautiful red romaine lettuce from The Cook’s Garden ( which is tasty to eat and beautiful to look at. The highbush blueberry is another choice: it has good interest through all four seasons between spring flowers, summer foliage, gorgeous fall colour, and interesting bark, and its black fruit is edible. As a bonus, it is low-maintenance. Other plants that provide a beautiful look while filling your plate include runner beans, ruby chard, and red cabbage and cauliflower.