February 15, 2014
Denis Flanagan CLD
Director of Public Relations and Membership Services
Denis FlanaganOne way to run a successful business and stay in touch with your customers is to constantly be aware of changing trends in the world of horticulture.

This is another reason why membership in Landscape Ontario is so important. It allows you easy access to all sorts of current information. If you visited our January trade show, Congress, you would have collected dozens of ideas from the show floor, the conferences and the Awards of Excellence, all of which will help you run a leading edge company.

Customers are looking for designers and business owners who are staying in touch with what’s new. We live in an age where the general public is inundated with ideas from websites, TV shows, magazines, home shows, etc.

As your association, we will once again be working hard this year to make it as easy as possible for you to track those trends.

On a recent visit to the U.K. and Ireland, I had the opportunity to visit some spectacular gardens and take note of the current trends. Let me share a few of those trends that I think are ready to expand to this continent.

The food experience, inspired by the endless magazines, books and TV shows on cooking, has resulted in the growing of food to become the hottest horticultural trend. Make sure you are leaving room in your landscape designs for raised beds, espalier fruit trees, herb-drying racks, mini-greenhouses, compost areas and yes even bee hives. It seems the foodies are here to stay for a while, and need room to grow.

Sculptured Living seemed to be in every garden centre, public garden and many private gardens I visited overseas. I saw featured pieces of art, often cleverly matching the sculpture with the surrounding plant material, eucalyptus and Elaeagnus reflected in blue glass, earthenware figures moulded into the cinnamon trunks of paper bark maple and modern pyramids circled by agave. It seemed to give a whole new perspective to focal points.

And lastly, it’s also about kids and dogs. I think I spent my early years as a landscape designer putting these two in the same category and figuring out ways to keep them out of gardens. Now they have become a profit centre for endless merchandising ideas, kids’ tools, boots, clothes, books, playhouses and games all with gardening themes.

If nothing else these ideas can often break the ice with customers. It can be way more fun discussing budgets for bee hives and boot scrapers, than 10 tonnes of armour stone.
Denis Flanagan may be contacted at dflanagan@landscapeontario.com.