While many gardeners scan the newly arrived seed catalogs to plan their next growing season, the industry’s visionaries are pouring talent and resources into products and ideas they hope will be sown in years to come.
Evolutionary biology is just one aspect of flora development; plant resiliency, landscape design and education also are part of the creative mix.
So what are the prospects for gardening in the year 2020 and beyond? Some responses from the long-term thinkers:
Coach Mark Smallwood, executive director, Rodale Institute, Kutztown, Pa.:
“Organic gardening won’t be simply a niche market. It’s a $31 billion industry now and growing in double digits every year.
“There will be more food and fewer lawns. Urban food production will be up because a lot of open space is becoming available. With all the empty homes, you can create parks; you can create food production. Detroit is rebounding using not only open land but creating vertical hydroponic food production in abandoned industrial buildings.”
Jose Smith, chief executive officer, Costa Farms, Miami:
“We’re trying hard to bring more color to houseplants. Green is not a color. We’re also trying to create plants so they’re more of a lifestyle — a living home decor.”
Greg Ina, vice president, The Davey Institute, Kent, Ohio:
“We’re working to quantify the benefits of trees. People are beginning to go beyond the anecdotal understanding that trees are good — beyond beautification to natural functions like pollution and wellness.
“Another big scientific topic is resiliency. Improving early detection. Dealing with the invasion of exotic pests. Building resistance to climate change. That impacts what we plant and where we plant trees.”
Anthony Tesselaar, president and co-founder, Anthony Tesselaar Plants, Silvan, Australia:
“The gardening industry has been looking at plant size and multi-use aspects with increasing urbanization, and also such factors as increased disease resistance to reduce the needs for pesticides and other chemicals in a closed urban environment.