According to the style pundits, 2023 will be the year of — drum roll, please — the Mediterranean garden, the cottage garden, the native plant garden, the water-wise garden, the edible garden, the vertical garden …
As you can see, it’s quite a long and varied list, and there’s a lot to consider in these trends, which is why I sought advice from Alabama’s very own style guru, Trace Barnett. A nationally known cook, artist, designer, blogger and author from Gold Mine, Ala., Trace is also an accomplished gardener who has his finger on the pulse of emerging design and lifestyle trends.
According to Trace, the changing climate, which gardeners are experiencing firsthand as seasons and growing conditions shift, is influencing many of this year’s gardening trends.
Climate and environmental concerns are behind a burgeoning interest in environmentally friendly gardening practices that use less chemicals, fossil fuels and water and in native plants, which are more resilient and better adapted to local ecosystems. It’s also driving changes in landscaping choices.
“I see a lot of people cutting back on their large lawns,” Trace says, noting that swaths of turfgrass are giving way to wildflower meadows, garden plots and raised beds. Some folks are removing lawns to make room for another 2023 trend, a growing interest in creating outdoor “rooms” and spaces to serve as gathering spots for family and friends.
What’s wonderful about this trend toward more sustainable and useful gardens is that we don’t need to give up style and beauty to have them. For example, Mediterranean-themed gardens, which are expected to be all the rage this year, not only provide an opportunity to run wild with 2023’s hippest color, terra cotta, they also use lots of evergreen, heat-loving, and drought-tolerant plants, many of which work well here in Alabama.
Cottage gardens, which are filled with an informal and often fanciful mixture of flowers, food plants and herbs, are also gaining in popularity. “I think this is a great idea because it creates a mini ecosystem,” Trace says, explaining that cottage gardens provide fresh flowers, fruits and vegetables for humans and much-needed habitat for pollinators and other wildlife species.
According to Trace, this emphasis on sustainability is also leading more and more gardeners to reuse and repurpose items in the garden. “It’s super easy to do,” he says. “You can re-envision things that you have on hand or find at the thrift store,” turning them into all kinds of functional items, including container gardens.
Speaking of which, interest in container gardening and in vertical gardening — the practice of growing plants on trellises, arbors, fences, in hanging baskets and as living walls — is expected to keep growing in popularity, particularly for people with limited outdoor space for gardening.
Greek, Scandinavian and Victorian garden designs, landscaping with natural materials like stone and collecting unusual houseplants are also on the 2023 garden trend list so there’s lots to try in the coming year. And according to Trace, experimenting with new ideas is fun and can be as easy as planting a small trial garden in containers or in a garden bed. Before committing to a major makeover, however, he recommends asking yourself these questions:
- What’s my budget?
- How much time and effort am I’m willing to put in the project?
- What are my growing conditions?
- What am I going to have to battle — deer, for instance.
He also suggested getting help from local experts, including those on social media. “You’ll get better advice from someone here in Alabama than someone in Connecticut,” he says.
Follow Trace on Instagram at
@thebittersocialite or check out some of his favorite Alabama-based Instagram influencers: @Urbanfarmstead,
@Houseplantclub. And if you’re looking for a delightful mix of recipes, gardening tips and wonderful stories, get your hands on Trace’s book, Tracing Roots: A Modern Approach to Living Off the Land.
Katie Jackson is a freelance writer and editor based in Opelika, Alabama. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.