Healthy is the new Wealthy

The idiom “cabin fever” perfectly describes that claustrophobic feeling we have after months indoors peering out the windows over the frozen tundra. We long for the color green and the aroma and feel of soil as the earthy canvas for renewal. I have read studies that claim soil has natural anti-depressant qualities and I be-”leaf” it.
I recently read the Garden Media Group Garden Trends report stating “Forest bathing” is the medicine of being in the forest and is today where yoga was 30 years ago. Research continues to tell us that time spent in nature reduces stress and increases well being. From the practice of using living plants to “soundscape” our landscapes (buffering noise) to the simple benefit of a shade tree providing a sunscreen equivalent to SPF 10, we instinctively understand the benefits of nature.

How about some spring time forest bathing?

I remember in the 70’s the houseplant and indoor foliage craze and that too has found a resurgence of sorts. Today two things drive the resurgence. One is the array of options for indoor plants from succulents to tillandsias, citrus to herbs and trendy foliage like fiddle leaf figs. The second thing driving the resurgence is the tech savvy Millennials (18-34). Five million of the six million ‘new’ gardeners last year were 18-34 year olds, according to the 2016 National Gardening Report. These tech savvy millennials will “naturally” make gardening a 365 day-a-year activity via indoor lighting, apps, lifestyle and indoor growing techniques. This attitude carries over to the workplace where ROI is replaced by ROV (return on value) understanding that plants create happier and healthier workers.
An understanding has “seeded” in the minds of Americans that finding joy in less is part of a downsizing trend to gardening in smaller spaces. Keeping what you need or love and what loves your garden and de-cluttering the rest. Creating boundaries and defining spaces.
Beat that cabin fever and get “wealthy” by adding some plants to your indoor living space and going for a forest bathing walk in the woods. March is a great month to “turn over a new leaf”.

Rick Vuyst

What’s “Growing” On?

Purp tulips
Could it be….spring is arriving?

(Garden Trends 2015)
The activity of gardening is synonymous with a healthy lifestyle. People see their outdoor space and activities as an extension and reflection of themselves. Not only is the outdoor area a living space, it is also a reflection of our personalities and a healthy lifestyle.
The Millennial generation (18-35) is leading the charge for change including front yard gardens and goats in cities and suburbs. In some cases this includes movements to change neighborhood ordinances. Recently we posed the subject of the return of the clothesline to the yard on my radio show. The phone lines lit up with wide and varied opinions. As a kid I remember the clotheslines in the neighborhood and the sometimes embarrassing public displays of garments flapping in the breeze. Many Baby Boomers like me have these memories including the smell of line dried sheets on the bed at night. For others they couldn’t imagine having to hang laundry in the yard and dealing with weather, bird droppings or airborne pollen.
Young men today are a demographic that has inspired the backyard to be an entertaining area with food to grow, grill, and a place to play games with their young children. They are a group with tremendous influence and buying power customizing their outdoor area to suit their needs including what is being called “Garden-tainment”.

If you're lookin you ain't cookin...let's get grilling!
If you’re lookin you ain’t cookin…let’s get grilling!

Interest in soil health is well “grounded” as we continue to grow “local food” and understand the need for healthy soils. Planting trees is making a comeback including community trees to enhance urban living. Trees experienced a downturn in planting during the economic struggles the past 8 years but as the housing market improves so does the interest in the benefit of healthy trees to the value of a property and a community.
Edible plants, berries, herbs, vegetable plants and “farming” your deck or patio with containers to grow in “bite-sized pieces” has great appeal to time pressed but health conscious gardeners. The concept of the garden no matter how small is aligned with the sense of living a healthy lifestyle. An “urban farmer” so to speak that cultivates and works the small piece of land they own. Along the lines of “bite size pieces”, reckless gardening is out. In other words if you have the money to put in a high maintenance garden and landscape then you probably have the money to have someone take care of it for you. Few people do, and what’s the fun in that? Workhorse plants that are easy to grow and give 3 seasons of interest are in great demand.

Viburnum is a workhorse in the landscape providing 3 to 4 seasons of interest....easy to grow and attracts wildlife!
Viburnum is a workhorse in the landscape providing 3 to 4 seasons of interest….easy to grow and attracts wildlife!

Demand for new varieties that bloom longer or are attractive with little care continue to drive the trends in the landscape. The resurgence in interest in succulents or air plants like tillandsia for example is a result of water conservation awareness and low maintenance trending. Everything including your phone and car are “smarter” today….why not your garden?
Finally color in the garden to express your personality. There is less concern about what the current trending color palettes are, and more about inspirations that allow you to express your personality.

Early season “dirty” thoughts on gardening

I had a friend of mine tell me it’s OK to have “dirty thoughts” if you’re a gardener. This made me laugh because I love the smell of soil. When we reach March and the frozen tundra begins to thaw our thoughts turn to the smell of good clean dirt. When we’ve been cooped up inside all winter in dry forced air and a confined space, we discover how much the rich healing texture and smell of soil and sunshine influences how we feel. I’m convinced that soil, fresh air and foliage are significant contributors to how we feel and our overall health. Don’t take my word for it, I’m not a doctor, just an “entre-manure”. A bag of potting soil this time of year can have big remedial effects for the winter blues. Remember as we move into the spring season we do know that there is a direct correlation between the health of your soil and the healthy produce, flowers and herbs you are able to grow in your garden.

Our Backyard Oasis awaits
Our Backyard Oasis awaits

I enjoy reading the Garden Media Group’s report on gardening trends at this time of year. There is a real and “growing” interest in backyard gardening as the yard today performs double duty. Your yard is your oasis for relaxation while also being the hub for social activity and entertaining. Among the numerous trends they point out you may find these to be interesting:
-A trend of “Glamping” which is a great way to describe pitching a tent with some at home glamor. Think throw pillows and a sofa in the tent and you get the general drift.
Pitch a tent in the backyard and bring the bed and sofa out there? You may be a candidate for "Glamping"
Pitch a tent in the backyard and bring the bed and sofa out there? You may be a candidate for “Glamping”

-Interest in staying grounded. Recycling food scraps (11.7% of U.S. waste is food scraps) and making landscapes not landfills starting with your own personal compost pile.
-Edible gardening including “drinking your garden” with the interest in hops, berries and vegetable and herb foliage to create smoothies.
-A “tree”-mendous reversal with a renewed interest in planting trees. With housing starts on the rise after a long slump and the awareness of the loss of millions of trees nationwide in the last 10 years….people are thinking tree planting again.
-Men in the 18-34 age demographic are a big and growing group interested in backyard living. From grilling to taking the youngsters out to play in the yard these young Dads have a real interest in outdoor living.
-“Bee”-neficials is what they call the interest in planting blooming native plants that are pollen rich to support a declining bee population vital to pollination.

Your houseplants have had a long winter. They have cabin fever, are tired of the dry air and whether in the office or the home have probably collected a little dust on their foliage. Lack of light is already a problem throughout winter so don’t compound the problem with dusty dirty foliage. Using some warm water and a pair of soft cotton gloves, dip your hands gloves and all in the warm water and gently using your fingers wipe (don’t pull or tug) the foliage. This is a quick gentle easy way to clean the foliage and improve photosynthesis.
Are you tired of winter about now and want to force the issue? You can force landscape branches into bloom indoors in March to deal with your cabin fever. Spring flowering trees and shrubs need a period of cold dormancy in order to bloom. By February and early March they’ve experienced sufficient dormancy to bloom. A close look in the landscape reveals swelling buds of lilac or forsythia. Look for swollen plump buds on healthy young branches. Cut the branches at an angle with a good clean by-pass pruning shear. Cut the branches long enough to display in a vase, usually 12 to 18 inches is a good length. Plunge the freshly cut branches immediately into water. We don’t want the branches to dry out. You will see best results if you do not place them in a direct sunny window. The warm indoor temperatures will stimulate the buds to wake up without “blasting” them in a window with direct sunlight. Bright indirect light will work best. Contingent on the species you’ve pruned you can expect the buds to swell and open within 1 to 3 weeks. When the buds begin to open you can display them in the vase or use the branches as supplements to a floral arrangement. Forsythia, Pussy Willow, Witchhazel, Honeysuckle, Cornelian Dogwood, Cherry, Juneberry, Crabapple and Bridal Wreath Spirea are all relatively easy spring bloomers to force into bloom indoors. If you’re feeling creative some Quince, Deutzia, Lilac, Red Twig Dogwood, Wisteria, Magnolia, Peach, Pear or Rhododendron might be fun to try.

Let me “trend” you a hand

As I look forward to spring 2013 on a cold January day, I thought I would share with you some trends in the home landscape. Don’t feel very trendy? Let me “trend” you a hand and read the list, you may find you’re more “hip” than you think……..

  • High impact low care plants. Own root landscape roses,succulents, steppables and groundcovers, Hydrangeas that bloom on old and new wood, weather resistant performing annuals like Diamond Frost, Calibrachoa or Gomphrena. and perennials like the array of colors now available for Coneflower.
  • Use of mycorrhizae and soil supplements or soil replenishment to make plants better “rooted and suited” to weather trends namely heat, drought and weather extremes.

    High Impact low care plants and vines
    High Impact low care plants and vines
  • Outdoors as an escape and a living area…..and extension “room” of the home. Outdoor cooking and grilling, entertaining and seating areas, outdoor furniture, firepits and fireplaces, Garden art.
  • Vertical growing….a renewed interest in vines throughout the landscape creating the “walls” of your outdoor living space.
  • Trees making a comeback……replacement trees for those lost to Emerald Ash Borer. As the housing market improves so does interest in trees and Urban forest canopies.

    Backyard rooms, outdoor entertaining and cooking
    Backyard rooms, outdoor entertaining and cooking
  • Quality over price when it comes to plants. Consumer wants to be a smart spender and be successful with what they plant. Investment in quality plants.
  • Container gardening for 4 seasons
  • Vegetables and herbs……garden to table.

    Vegetables and herbs backyard to table
    Vegetables and herbs backyard to table
  • Impatiens and downy mildew. Education on proper plant care and how to deal with this new issue in the landscape.

    Understanding Downy Mildew
    Understanding Downy Mildew