CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- It's this time of year that you see everybody make review lists of the year we just finished, whether they are the best or worst moments of the year, best pictures, movies, music, and so on. I thought that it might be more helpful if we take a moment and look ahead at a list of things that are poised to make a splash in the gardening world. From the top plant award winners, to projected trends in the garden, I'll count down a few things that will affect the gardening world in the coming year.
Plants of the year: There are several different organizations that pick their own plants of the year, so I'll just mention a few. The Perennial Plant Association (www.perennialplant.org) chose an ornamental grass as the 'Perennial Plant of the Year' for 2014. Panicum virgatum'Northwind' is a tall, native switchgrass that turns golden yellow in the fall.
All-America Selections (www.all-americaselections.org) is an organization that releases an annual list of vegetables and bedding plants based on variety trials around the country. This year, the national winners included the 'Mamma Mia Giallo' pepper, 'Fantastico' and 'Chef's Choice Orange' tomatoes, 'Mascotte' dwarf French bean, 'African Sunset' petunia (it's brilliant orange), and 'Sparkle White' guara, a delicate-looking yet tough, drought-resistant perennial.
The neat thing about the AAS program is that their winners are grown at display gardens around the country so you can get up close and personal with the plants. The only display garden in West Virginia is at Oglebay Resort near Wheeling, but you can also check them out at Franklin Park conservatory in Columbus, Ohio, the horticulture garden at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va., and Schenley Plaza in Pittsburgh.
Color of the year: Each year, the Pantone Color Institute (www.pantone.com), the company that acts as the standard-keepers for colors for everything from commercial printers to the U.S. Patent Office, selects its color of the year. This year the color is "Radiant Orchid," which is based on the purple-pink color in the Phalaenopis orchids you see in grocery stores and garden centers. While this color is most commonly seen in fashion and home decorating trends, you will also likely see an increase in the number of flowers at the garden centers this year with similar color profiles.
Sustainable gardening: The Garden Trends Report, which is released by the garden marketing and PR firm Garden Media (www.gardenmediagroup.com), lists composting as a top trend. More and more gardeners are interested in reducing the amounts of inputs they put in the garden -- from fertilizers to chemicals and more.
But gardeners are going beyond that and adding more sustainable practices, such as collecting rainwater, using recycled materials in the garden, and more. Sustainability is not just about being environmentally conscientious though. It's also about choosing practices that are more economically sound (cheaper) and thinking about your neighbors when you make decisions.