22 May 2022

Gardening with Jo: From Zen gardens to outdoor kitchens – the hot trends for 2022

With Jo McGarry of Caragh Nurseries

Gardening with Jo: From Zen gardens to outdoor kitchens – the hot trends for 2022

The pandemic has not only shaped the way we use our homes and gardens but how we want to feel within these spaces. The expectation now is that our gardens are going to create not only a sense of calm and reflection, but also a feeling of security too.

We feel that that our homes and gardens should now provide us with both of these, and trends for 2022 have seen this in abundance. Homeowners are ready to create this feeling of calm and wellbeing themselves. I have spoken to all five of our garden designers here at Caragh Nurseries this week to get a real snapshot of how this is impacting on the designs they are putting together, the trends that they are talking to their clients about and the ones that are being implemented through the installations we are putting together.

One of the gardens that automatically springs to mind when we talk about wellbeing is the Japanese Zen garden; and there is no doubt that this is influencing gardens in some ways. The less fussy, minimal designs with fewer plant varieties are being chosen by clients, but today they are given a touch of modernism too, creating space and form and lots of clean lines.

They feature strong lines of stone and retaining walls that look like they have been carved out of the landscape to reveal simple planting. While these spaces have the elements of a Japanese garden, there is also a real feeling of a garden of the Adriatic that you may have been following from Monty Don’s new series.

This means lots of planting of shades of green but very few other colours. The change is created with textures rather than colour, featuring a mixture of clipped and loose foliages but also adding large leafy plants and different foliage styles.

Hard working

Our gardens need to work very hard all year around, creating entertaining spaces for us and the few people that we choose to bring into our special spaces. The need for planting that covers all four seasons is a necessity. Lighting and pots are a must, which bring that that sense of additional living space, using the natural tones of raw surfaces with stronger background colours - exactly as we would do inside the home.

Timber is a strong element in our gardens this year, from timber boardwalks through to solid outdoor furniture which are all seen as key trends. Likewise, outdoor tiles and board form concrete can give a look of timber that is textural and tactile.

Brass is also a key element, from lights through to small details in the garden, from art forms that create a warmth to lighting which creates a glow. For two gardens we are currently working on, we have commissioned some simple brass pieces that bring a real warmth to the gardens and they are going to look just amazing.

Whilst we have been talking up to now about neutrals, there are most definitely stronger colours being used too in gardens - not in too big a detail, but creating backdrops that add individuality to a garden.

Colours that we are using inside the home are being seen in the garden; shades of greens, some darker blues and this year's Pantone colour of the year Very Peri, which is a wonderfully blue periwinkle kind of shade that looks beautiful with shades of blue greys and lavenders planted in front of it, Think one darker wall with olive trees, succulents , grasses and nepeta planted.

We are also still seeing the really dark, moodier charred wood and very dark stains for much needed office rooms and covered seating and dining areas; and the other big trend is the outdoor kitchen.

These outdoor rooms can also double up as as exercise spaces and yoga rooms. I have indeed found a space like this myself in my timber outdoor room, which is clad in almost black stained timber, that houses my exercise bike (I’m a wannabe Peleton user so I’ve got a more cost effective alternative) and yoga mat along with my son's weights bench. It is lovely space that opens up in the warmer months.

Creating a secure, safe additional space in the open air that also gives privacy and a sense of wellbeing needs a good design. This is obviously why garden designers around the country are extremely busy.

Next week I am going to be showing you how to create a garden that gives you year round colour; planting for all seasons and how to combine those to create a natural but hardworking garden - and also the new outdoor furniture designs that we have coming through for 2022.

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Cathal McCabe of Kildare in action against Daniel Huane of Mayo during the Christy Ring Cup Final match between Kildare and Mayo at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo:Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

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