No one can predict the future; however, on May 6th Brooke Moffis Commercial Horticulture Agent from UF/IFAS Lake County Extension hosted a virtual program to give Passionflower members and supporters some insights into trends that could impact how landscapes are designed in the future.
Brooke touched on a number of trends that are showing up in magazines and marketing: minimalistic design, geometric shapes, limited plant species, fewer colors, grouped mass plantings, automated mowers. There is also great interest in bringing interior spaces outside (with outdoor seating and gathering areas) and the outdoors inside (with houseplants). Millennials in particular appear drawn to these inside-outside trends.
Many of these trends may make native plant enthusiasts cringe; however, there are also trends towards more nature-driven landscapes that give native plant people hope: wooded, naturalistic lots, meadow lawns, butterfly gardens, backyard habitats, and edible landscapes. The shift from lawn monocultures to embracing local ecosystems was highlighted by a video showing the transformation of a typical lot in the Villages to a space with native plant “rooms” connected by wandering curved paths. The use of natural materials such as stone, water features and bird houses to create interest in a garden was also discussed.
Water conservation will be important to Florida’s future, so a lot of research is going into turfgrass alternatives. Brooke highlighted the development of new types of turfgrass requiring less water and fertilizer as well as being more pest-resistant, and the development of blended lawns (with mimosa, coreopsis, salvia lyrata and frogfruit) as an alternative to monoculture lawns.
Brooke’s presentation was interesting and thought-provoking. The challenge for those of us into native plants is to figure out how to craft our message and fit native plants into the broader trends. If we can encourage the practice of integrating landscapes with nature and the weaving of human needs with the needs of the environment we can help shape future trends.