What’s new in the garden for 2021

Published 6:00 am Friday, January 1, 2021

I’ve looked into my crystal ball in search of clues about what 2021 will portend for gardeners, and what I see looks remarkably similar to what I saw last year.

Thanks, in part, to the pandemic, many gardeners plan on spending lots of time in their gardens and using them as an extension of their indoor living space. What’s likely to be the trend this year?


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Cattle watering troughs have long been popular for use as large planters. Beginning last summer, however, homeowners discovered a new use for them, hot tubs. Enterprising homeowners placed large watering troughs inside even larger ones and filled the space in between with gravel for insulation. Those living in areas with colder weather added propane heaters. Nearly everyone added fancy decks, seating areas and privacy screens.


Raised beds will continue to be popular for vegetable gardens in areas with limited space. More and more garden centers will offer kits for building beds, as well as basic materials for those gardeners who want to make their own. Homeowners will probably continue to make their raised beds more attractive by adding paved paths between beds, decorative borders, fences and gates. Arches, tuteurs and obelisks will continue to be popular for both decoration and the support of climbing plants.


Because more people are gardening in small spaces, garden centers will continue to offer smaller varieties of popular plants that can be grown in the ground or in pots. “Siam” tomato is part of a series of vegetable plants hybridized for growing in pots on windowsills. Both “Baby Kim” lilac and “Show Off Sugar Baby” forsythia only grow 2 to 3 feet tall and work equally well in containers and at the front of perennial borders.


Prognosticators expect gardeners to continue their interest in supporting pollinators by increasing the use of native plants in home gardens and by eliminating large expanses of lawn. Many garden centers will offer pre-selected packages of seeds and plants that can be used to make “instant” gardens. Expect to find Joe Pye weed, rattlesnake master, and various native grasses at most garden centers. These plants are low maintenance, drought resistant, and pollinator magnets.


The gardening experts also predict home gardeners will continue their love affair with cottage gardens. This particular design concept has always been popular in Virginia and works well with the interest in pollinator friendly gardens too. What’s in a cottage garden? A jumble of roses, phlox, irises, peonies, daffodils, various herbs, hardy geraniums, anemones, daisies, and just about any native plant that a gardener might like to add.

Whether you decide to follow some of the latest trends in gardening or just continue doing what you love, please remember that digging in the dirt is the world’s best therapy. Happy gardening in 2021.

DR. CYNTHIA WOOD is a master gardener. Her email address is cynthia. crewe23930@gmail.com.