What's new for the coming growing season?

Rob Zimmer
The National Garden Bureau has designated 2017 The Year of the Rose. These stunning perennials provide long-lasting color, beauty and texture in the garden all year round.

Each year, garden industry marketing and purchasing representatives scour garden centers, botanical gardens, specialty shops, art and craft shows and more seeking garden trends taking shape for the coming year.

New ideas, new growing techniques, exciting new plants, designs and more fill the wishes and dreams of gardeners, especially as winter creeps in and spring grows closer.

Already, many gardeners are receiving catalogs filled with tempting new plants, seeds and more for 2017.

This week, I will take a look at some of the hottest trends in gardening for the coming year. Some are ongoing, some exciting and new. Each one offers the promise of an exciting new direction your gardening hobby can take this year or anytime down the road.

Planting and combining perennials in containers is one of the hottest new trends for 2017. Perennials such as hostas, ornamental grasses and coral bells make spectacular container specimens.

Pot up your perennials

Traditionally, gardeners create spectacular combinations mixing and matching colorful annuals in pots and containers of all shapes and sizes.

A popular trend in gardening is incorporating perennial plants into a container combinations. Perennials such as hostas, coral bells, ornamental grasses, coneflowers and many other varieties make stunning container specimens.

Use them as stand alone specimens, or mix and match with other perennials, annuals and trailing plants to create breathtaking art in the garden.

Depending upon the container, overwintering can be done easily by simply moving the pot into an unheated outbuilding or garage, or, temporarily planting the perennial in the ground over winter and repotting in the spring.

Non-stop gardening

Gardeners love to garden and an interesting trend is exploring new ways to garden 365 days a year. Indoors and out, there are plenty of gardening activities plant lovers can enjoy all year round.

A new wave of table top and compact hydroponics systems make it possible to grow fresh herbs and other plants indoors, anywhere, with these fun, soilless gardening systems.

Creating four seasons of interest in the garden is a fun challenge and can be done by incorporating winter blooming specimens, plants with colorful berries, amazing textures and other features that carry them through the cold months.

Office gardening is another big trend in the New Year. For cleaner air, as well as a sense of peace and calm, bringing the garden into the office setting is becoming more and more popular.

The office garden

There has been a lot of news lately about how indoor plants can cleanse the air and remove toxins. This is one reason why indoor gardening, specifically in the office setting, is catching on.

There are a number of great house plants and gardening ideas that can be incorporated into small spaces such as a cubicle or office.

Orchid varieties are an excellent choice, as are ferns and a number of other houseplants.

Terrarium gardening and miniature gardening are also great ways to bring the garden indoors.

Gardening for pollinators

Ongoing headlines continue to explore the plight of bees and butterflies throughout Wisconsin and the country. Gardeners are passionate about incorporating plants that benefit our native bees, butterflies and other pollinators.

In addition to plantings that are nectar and pollen rich, adding bird houses, butterfly houses, ladybug houses and mason bee hives are all great ways to benefit pollinator populations.


Soothing, comforting and relaxing sounds can fill the garden throughout the day and night.

Incorporating sound into the landscape is a growing trend, both natural sound, as well as electronic.

Adding water features and stream beds is a great way to add the natural sound of moving water into the yard and garden.

For relaxing music and other electronic sounds, A growing selection of a beautiful garden art, solar lights and artwork and other electronic devices make it possible to stream sounds and music directly from your phone, iPad or computer without the need to plug-in or drag extension cords and other equipment into the garden.

Hydrangea comeback

With more varieties available in more growth forms than ever before, hydrangeas have staged an amazing comeback and will continue to do so in the coming years. Long lasting, elegant and beautiful, as well as easy to care for, hydrangeas are also more versatile than ever before. Many hydrangeas can take half a day of sun or more, making them even more useful and attractive for different parts of the garden.

What's new in gardening for 2017? The Perennial Plant Association has named Orange Milkweed, or Butterfly Weed, Perennial Plant of the Year.

Perennial plant of the year

The Perennial Plant Association has named its 2017 Plant of the Year and it's a good one. Orange milkweed, also known as butterfly weed, has been awarded this year's honor. I'll have much more on this incredible plant coming up in a future column.

Find Rob Zimmer online at www.robzimmeroutdoors.com. On Facebook at www.facebook.com/RobZimmerOutdoors.