Magazines

Blending with nature for backyard bloom

Colour blocking flowers in a garden. This design adds diversity and colour to  your landscape. FOTOSEARCH
Colour blocking flowers in a garden. This design adds diversity and colour to your landscape. FOTOSEARCH 

In 2016, we had trendy gardening ideas in store for you but in  this new year we have so much more. After all, gardening is trend-proof.

This ranges from small gardens with unbelievable ideas, minimalist dominance in landscaping materials to bush gardens that just grow out naturally.

After a whole year of writing about gardens, I have come to learn that creating a garden is not like buying a new corner-to-corner carpet for your house but rather sewing a few glittery garments of your own into Mother Nature’s rich material.

All said and done, gardening tastes would still change… there are those minimalists who would go crazy about the seamless geometric gardens, and those who fall for Japanese or French style gardens.

But you are yet to see more. Among the numerous gardening ideas – there is the less talked about – the cottage garden.

A cottage garden has an English history. It plays host to a beautiful array of antique items, flowers, ornamental and edible plants.

But whatever taste or preference, here are some of the trends you can incorporate in your backyard to achieve the best out of your garden, no matter the history behind it.

Colour blocking

Colour-blocking has been an ageless trend in women’s fashion for decades without losing its exquisiteness. It usually incorporates discrete blocks of bright colour shades, which can make a statement in your outdoor living spaces as well.

Pius Mwambingu, a landscape architect at Landtek Studios in Nairobi says that to achieve the best of colour-blocking in your garden simply highlight a specific planting area with that bold colour of your choice.

“A loud colour on a wall can, for instance, edge a row of potted plants or be the artful milieu to an outdoor day bed,” said Mwambingu.

“It is exciting and amazingly not an expensive thing to do. So you better keep that extra can of paint after revamping your home this New Year.”

If you do not have a wall to paint but are still yearning for a change, you can always use a solid-coloured alfresco mat or porch curtains to create the effect.

Natural materials

According to Pius, most of his clients have been asking for more old-fashioned and do-it-yourself kind of garden designs as compared to minimalist landscaping and garden furniture.

To achieve a more organic look, go for rustic natural material in ypur garden. This could be curved from stone or old wasted tree branches to form curvy garden seats or swing seats.

“Most of my clients want to move away from concrete unless it is an ultra-modern, minimalist garden,” he said.

Hyper-localism

This gardening trend encourages the use of locally-sourced flowers and plants that are native to a specific ecosystem. These plants are usually not available in most nurseries around the country and Pius advises that you replant them where possible.

“Hyper-localism also promotes the use of existing rocks and make posts from old trees,” says Pius.

“This is surely going to be top-of-the list for many gardeners since the impact of climate change real and most of these plants, if not replanted may soon be extinct”.

Old and new mash-up

This would go well for the urbanites who love vintage but still are inclined to modern gardening designs. “Mixing the two (old and new garden designs), is a trend in gardening and landscaping that is about to land in gardens,” he said. “It used to not be an okay thing to mix styles, but now it is acceptable. It is no longer about modern or vintage but how you pool the two in a captivating way, either by putting modern elements in a traditional garden or incorporating bold, traditional elements in a modern garden.”

A modern day bed with a rustic bench or seat offers an intrepid distinction to the traditional furniture.

Bonsai plants

More than half of the Kenyan population is moving to urban centres, hence putting pressure on rental spaces.

Along with less space for plants, many dwellers who want to complement their homes in urban centres require designs that would need little day-to-day maintenance. Bonsai plants come to the rescue!

According to Prachi Shah, a bonsai plants expert, grafted fruit trees can be planted anywhere, even in your balcony for those in urban living.

Ms Shah is a nature lover, and to make nature part of her life she ventured into doing potted green flowering and fruit bonsai plants trees – both for indoors and outdoors purposes.

For variety, she has specialised in a collection of African and Indian indigenous plants. She imports grafted desert rose plants in more than 300 different flower varieties and more so grafted assorted fruit plants namely; mango, guava, pomegranate, cherry, papaya, custard apple.

While planting, one has to mix the soil and fertilisers or organic manure in proportions. Clipping the branches helps to get more fruits and maintain the health of the plant.

“Too many branches require more nutrients hence affecting fruit bearing. Pruning of branches helps to get right amount of nutrition to the branches and get more healthy fruits,” said Ms Shah.

If planting any grafted fruit tree on your balcony, ensure that you change the pot as the plant grows, say after two years, she said. An alternative is to train the same fruiting plant into a bonsai plant, which are usually trained and grown in pots (or containers). Note that the container should have drainage holes.

Ms Shah said grafted fruit plant starts giving fruits from the very first year and those who bought from Mr Gakuru’s farm can mince benefits from the trees in a short period. She said grafted seedlings of her imported bonsai fruit trees and plants can fetch up to Sh4,000 per plant.

“Grafted fruiting plant like mangoes give fruit for almost 45 years if proper care is taken, as far as fertiliser and pruning of the branch is concerned, it would fruit heavily giving high returns on the investment,” she affirmed.

Active play spaces for all ages

If you want to turn your outdoor space into a paradise where everyone can have some fun any time they are home, then think green — think golf course green. Golf course green is usually referred to as putting green.

It is the smooth and even space with short grass surrounding a golf hole, either as part of a golf course or as a separate area for putting.

Almost all golfers wish to possess their own private putting green in their backyard, but you do not have to be an ardent golfer to own one.

“Golf course landscaping is the ultimate upgrade to a home scenery,” said Director of Jaria Hortscapes, James Munuve. Munuve observes that people do not want places they have to weed. They want places where they can relax and play.

Sustainability tech

With the era of smartphone technology, it is amazing what you can do from the comfort of your home or office, or anywhere on the go. You do not have to be an agriculturalist to do this, but the passion to keep health flowers and plants in your garden would do.

The Ukulima Tech application would come in quite in handy. The application, which cannot be downloaded can only be programmed in a way that only the company can install it at a fee on a customer’s Internet enabled smartphone.

smurumba@ke.nationmedia.com