Spring has finally sprung. Hooray. This means it is time to get off the sofa, away from the box sets and into the garden to replenish your levels of vitamin D and to relax. If your garden isn’t up-to-scratch, however, it won’t be relaxing. So we’ve researched the latest garden trends, looking at what might help if your goal is to add value or sell your home. Secateurs at the ready.
The more old-fashioned flowers such as roses, peonies and hydrangeas are fashionable, exemplified by Tom Ford, the former fashion designer turned film director, who sends only bunches of peonies or hydrangeas to his friends.The supermodel of the hydrangea world is the ‘Annabelle’. First found growing wild near the US town of Anna in Ohio in the early 1700s, it is low maintenance, being happy in sun or shade and not especially thirsty.
Thomas Broom-Hughes, the head of horticulture and floristry at Petersham Nurseries in Richmond, southwest London — the only garden centre in the country where the café has a Michelin star — reports that wildflowers, including poppies, delphiniums, lupins and foxgloves, are still popular. “The trend for a wildflower meadow isn’t waning — and people are conscious of helping the bee population,” he says. “It’s part of the romantic garden look that is popular at the moment.”
Scent is big this year too, according to Peter Burks, a horticultural adviser at Potter and Rest, the online garden centre. He advises using lemon verbena, which gives off a refreshing citrus zing from its leaves. Highly scented shrubs such as Philadelphus ‘Sybille’ (or mock orange) and scented roses such as Rosa ‘Cécile Brünner’ can also work well.
While vegetable gardens are still popular, herb gardens are becoming increasingly fashionable. Rosemary, oregano and bay are among the easier herbs to grow outdoors, and thyme has pretty flowers in the summer. Consider planting the herbs in the big olive oil tins that restaurants use.
Edible plants are also big at the moment, says Broom-Hughes. “People are buying a lot of nasturtiums, violas, cornflowers, nigella and roses — and they eat the rose petals.”
Vegetable or kitchen gardens are popular among prospective homebuyers. Strutt & Parker recently surveyed 2,000 people, asking them about their “dream” garden item; 9 per cent responded that it was somewhere to grow vegetables. (The most popular item, at 19 per cent, was a walled garden.)
With summers getting warmer, facilities for outdoor cooking and alfresco dining have become common in high-end gardens.
Pizza ovens, patio kitchens with sinks and fire pits are among the hottest garden features. Wood-burning stoves and pizza ovens were the dream of 4 per cent of respondents in the Strutt & Parker survey.
“The terraces we see today are getting bigger and housing outdoor kitchens,” says Nigel Mitchell, the regional chairman at Knight Frank. Oak pergolas are popularly used to shelter outdoor dining areas.
This trend is inexpensive — you can buy one on Amazon for £10 — which makes it all the more pleasing. You can get free-standing hammocks, so you don’t need two trees to hang it from, and hammocks with built-in parasols.
More glamorously, the penthouse at Hempel Gardens, central London, features a swing on its roof terrace, which also has fern trees, candles and Crittall windows separating the garden from the inside space. It is a collection of 18 luxury apartments on the site of the former Hempel Hotel in Bayswater, where David and Victoria Beckham and Michael Jackson stayed in the 1990s. The developers are Amazon Property and British Land, which is marketing the properties through Strutt & Parker and Knight Frank.
Homebase and B&Q report that sales of women-only sheds have risen by more than 50 per cent in recent years. She Sheds: A Room of Your Own by the magazine editor Erika Kotite provides inspiration for anyone wanting to recreate this trend at home. The book explains that these lady lairs are gaining traction because they provide a quiet sanctuary in which they can escape the world — a place where no one touches your stuff. Bliss.