P.E.I.'s top 7 garden trends for 2017

Are you planting a red and white flower scheme for Canada's 150th birthday? You're not alone. Some P.E.I. garden centres shared this and other top sellers so far this season.

'Instead of an 8-foot tall lilac next to the house you can now plant a 5-foot tall lilac right in front'

Nurseries like VanKampen's in Charlottetown are offering more ready-made planters, or 'plug and play' options. (Sara Fraser/CBC)

Planting a red and white flower scheme for Canada's 150th birthday? You're not alone.

Some P.E.I. garden centres shared this and other top sellers so far this season.

1. Red and white

What's white and red all over? The most in-demand colour scheme at John's Greenhouses in Summerside, P.E.I. (Submitted by John's Greenhouses)

"Red and white is going to be a huge trend in all different markets for this year's celebrations!" shared Jennifer Vriends at John's Greenhouses of the enthusiasm for planting red and white flowers in celebration of Canada's 150 year birthday.

In a world that has shorter attention spans and is more visually stimulated than ever, the gardeners of decades ago are a dying breed.— Peter Meijer, VanKampen's

Red and white flowering annuals have always been a go-to for home gardeners, she said, but this year Islanders will see an abundance of not just in home gardens but also businesses and municipalities.

Many growers are already sold out of some red and white plants, she said.

2. Veggies are still hot

More and more people now buy young plants rather than starting vegetables like tomatoes from seed, says VanKampen's Greenhouses Peter Meijer. (Sara Fraser/CBC)

Last year vegetables were red hot, as young people began flocking to garden centres and seed stores with the goal of growing more of their own food, and the trend has not waned for 2017, retailers share. 

"I see how little people spend on their seed for a whole season compared to what they would spend at the grocery store and not to mention the quality of freshness and convenience — these are a lot of the reasons I'm hearing why people are trending to a home garden," said Heidi Wood, a horticulturalist at Veseys Seeds in York, P.E.I. 

Fruit-growing is also gaining popularity, says Peter Meijer at VanKampen's Greenhouses in Charlottetown.

"People want more and more types of perennial fruits/berries every year. High bush blueberries have been selling very quickly," he said, as have Honeycrisp apple trees. 

3. Raised beds

Raised bed gardens are gaining popularity as they look neat and are easier on gardeners's backs. (Submitted by Heidi Wood/Veseys Seeds)

More people are opting to grow veggies in raised beds that look tidy and keep weeds contained, says Heidi Wood.

The bed frame can be as simple as two-by-fours on top of the ground or patio retaining wall blocks. It's also a great way to repurpose used wood. 

"This is definitely a great way to keep your garden organic as well. There have become more and more varieties of organic seed available as well for anyone who chooses to use," Wood said. 

4. 'Instant gratification'

Lettuce bowls can be planted out in the garden or just grown on a deck for summer-long salad greens. (Sara Fraser/CBC)

Fewer people are starting gardens from seed themselves or even creating their own containers — they want them pre-made. 

"Many people that come in the doors are looking for a 'plug and play' option," says Meijer. 

Not only has VanKampen's planted more hanging baskets, flower bowls and deck boxes, they also have lush planters of lettuce you can take home and grow all summer.

"In a world that has shorter attention spans and is more visually stimulated than ever, the gardeners of decades ago are a dying breed," Meijer said.

5. Planting small spaces

P.E.I.'s Shaman Ferraro is already doing brisk business selling and installing living wall kits, but says they're easy enough to DIY. (Sara Fraser/CBC)

Just have a front step or a tiny deck? No problem.

Suppliers have responded to this ongoing trend with more choices of compact, reblooming shrubs this year. 

"Instead of an eight-foot tall lilac next to the house you can now plant a five-foot tall lilac right in front of the house, and it will bloom for twice as long!" said Meijer. 

Lots of varieties are now bred specifically for container gardening, shared Wood. 

You might also try growing a "living wall" inside or outdoors — this makes the most of space and looks beautiful. You can even grow vegetables!

The City of Charlottetown is offering a free workshop Saturday on gardening in small spaces with a demonstration by Shaman Ferraro who sells living wall kits through Atlantic Green Contractors and green roof systems. He'll show customers how to use Minigarden kits ($35 and up) in different sizes for vegetables or houseplants. 

The vertical kits offer "all the benefits of gardening, without the number one complaint — bending over," said Ferraro, who notes there's no weeding involved either. 

As more people enjoy small space living as well as gardening, living walls like this one at Charlottetown's Farm Centre are becoming more popular. (Sara Fraser/CBC)

Besides selling the kits directly and through some garden centres including Jewell's Country Market in Marshfield, P.E.I., and has recently installed a large wall in the greenhouse at Charlottetown Rural High School.

Workshop participants can also learn more about growing veggies in containers as they lend a land planting vegetable planters by City Diamond, a ball field off Brighton Road.

6. Birds and bees

Befriending bees is a big trend, and more people are buying or making homes for pollinators on their properties. (Submitted by Heidi Wood/Veseys Seeds)

Plants like bee balm are very popular as people become increasingly aware of the environmental needs of bees and birds, who aid pollination.

Bee houses are also a popular garden addition, said Wood. 

It's another reason gardeners are snapping up new flower and shrub varieties that rebloom, like the Bloomerang lilac.

Reblooming shrubs like Bloomerang lilacs and Sonic Bloom weigela are top sellers, as well as Double Play spirea. They are also more compact than heritage varieties Islanders are familiar with. (Sara Fraser/CBC)

7. Lavender

VanKampen's ordered more than 50 Lavender topiaries — a lavender plant grown as a small tree form — this spring which immediately sold out and are proving difficult to restock due to popularity. 

Lavender, especially in topiary form, has been a hot seller for VanKampen's this year. (Submitted by Peter Meijer)

The plants were featured in several gardening magazines this spring, Meijer said, adding to their cachet​.

"They can be enjoyed outdoors then brought indoors as weather cools" notes Meijier, and are compact — so are also popular for small spaces. 

He notes lavender is also believed to have mosquito repellent properties. Another choice is to plant Munstead lavender, a perennial that can grow in P.E.I.'s climate. 


Sara Fraser

Web Journalist

Sara has worked with CBC News in P.E.I. since 1988, starting with television and radio before moving to the digital news team. She grew up on the Island and has a journalism degree from the University of King's College in Halifax. Reach her by email at