The recent lockdown and the various social distancing regulations throughout Europe have forced many of us to reconsider our habits, starting from how we use places, seeing the domestic outdoor space in a new light, as the perfect setting for socialising with family and friends.
Large collective events have also had to adapt to new formats that can guarantee the safety of the participants without sacrificing their identity. One of these is Orticolario, the international initiative dedicated to the culture of landscapes held in Villa Erba (Cernobbio, Lake Como), which this year has given itself a new virtual look. So here's a sneak preview of garden trends for 2021, all in the name of renewed outdoor spaces to be experienced and shared.
The emotions of the forest recreated in your garden. This is the essence of the forest garden, as conceived by Vittorio Peretto, landscape and garden designer, a trend inspired by nature to bring back feelings of purity and freedom to your home's outdoors, going well beyond the design limits of both the English garden and the meadow garden. The reasons underlying this new interpretation of greenery are climate change and the changes in our habits caused by the COVID emergency. With the lockdown the air and water are cleaner and millions of people have spent more time in their gardens, and so there's a new awareness that we cannot be healthy in a sick environment. This gave rise to the idea of listening more to Nature. Starting with plants. In forest gardens preference is therefore given to native species, which are more robust and able to adapt to external conditions. These must then be supplemented with other plants having the same characteristics, which spontaneously intertwine with the former even though they aren't local varieties. The aesthetics of a forest garden is focused on the importance of vegetation for the absorption of noise and carbon dioxide: a dual process that purifies the garden from noise and air pollution. This creates an ecosystem that attracts insects and birds, which in turn will tend to eliminate parasites, maintaining a natural balance. That's why there must be no shortage of birdhouses and feeders, conditions that promote another popular trend: bird gardens.
The key material in a forest garden? Wood, obviously.
In northern Europe it is an established practice, both in private gardens and public parks. We're talking about bird gardens, the possibility of enjoying wildlife in your own garden. For this kind of garden you need to design a customised green space starting from plants that attract animals, choosing the ones that are best suited to the local climate and fauna. The fruits of dog roses, blackthorns, blueberries, mountain ashes and currants, just to mention the easiest species, are ideal for robins, chaffinches, wrens and blackcaps. The same is true for the hawthorn, a shrub that offers a great refuge for many animals, not to mention tasty autumn berries. And ivy is a climbing plant that provides good shelter and can decorate walls. Don't forget lawn plants like dandelions, thistles, aromatic plants (sage, rosemary, thyme, mallow, marjoram) and flowers. They are loved by many insects, but also sparrows and insectivorous birds such as great tits and blue tits. The benefits of a garden designed for a bird garden are manifold: no pesticides, a lively habitat and a natural garden, with settled and migratory “friends” who will make the time spent outdoors even more enjoyable.
To admire this wonderful sight there are two solutions, one outdoor and the other indoor. The former requires a hidden observation point, sheltered by a hedge or, better still, by a vertical closure. For the latter, a good option is an enclosure facing the bird garden, like a veranda, terrace, pergola or pergotenda with sliding windows to admire the surrounding nature from.
Water gardens are a new and important trend for gardens of the future and underscore the cultural growth of lovers of greenery. There's no need for large spaces to enjoy the flowering of a water lily or a calla lily, which can even grow on a balcony if they have the right exposure. What matters is maintaining the right balance between oxygenating, filtering, floating and shading species. This way the water garden won't need any mechanical filters and will remain healthy in a natural way. Last but not least, a controlled water feature helps eliminate mosquitoes. Just add “anti-mosquito fish” (like mosquitofish) that eat the larvae and thus interrupt the reproductive chain and reduce the number of adults. A biological war, therefore, in harmony with the dictates of conscious gardening.
So are you tempted to renew your outdoor space to make it a place you can fully enjoy?