Gardening

Gardening trends to watch out for

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A section of the garden at Njoki Njuguna’s home in Kibiko, Kajiado county. PHOTO | BILLY OGADA | NMG

This year, the gardening space is expected to evolve. New trends are emerging as more people embrace gardening as a hobby.

Here are some of the new trends to watch out for this year.

The no-dig gardening

In 2023, no-dig gardening picked up pace with more plant parents embracing it. The no-dig gardening is expected to still be a huge part of 2024.

The method enriches the soil by reducing the need to cultivate. Soil has a natural ecosystem of bacteria, fungi and worms that get disrupted or killed when one turns the soil. Not digging also helps to protect the soil structure.

Rock Gardens

Rock gardens are gaining momentum as a replacement for the water thirty lawns. David D’Souza, a plant parent is setting up a rock garden to replace his lawn which he laments takes up so much water.

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David and Diana D’Souza’s Rock Garden pictured on October 10, 2023, at their home in Lavington, Nairobi. PHOTO | BILLY OGADA | NMG

“The problem is that lawns are very difficult to maintain and are quite water-thirsty. So I am gradually reducing the lawn with features like this rock garden.

Eco-friendly gardening

Environmental conservation is a top consideration among most gardeners, hence they are now not only looking to have a well-decorated garden but also becoming eco-friendly. Anthony Musau, a landscaper, says that most of his clients are shunning the traditional use of chemicals in the garden to keep away pests and are instead growing different plants that could deal with the pests.

“In homes that are prone to snakes, many of my clients are opting for the non-spraying option in a bid to protect the environment. To deal with the snakes, we are now planting snake repellants such as snake plants, lemongrass, marigolds, cacti, basil, and sage. To deal with white flies we are growing bougainvillea. Its broad leaves help to keep the white flies away,” he tells BDLife.

Planting edible plants

Last year saw an increase in the growth of not just ornamental plants, but also edible plants like fruit trees, vegetables, and herbs. This is a trend that is set to go on. Growing fruit trees has become a common practice as it is considered low maintenance compared to vegetables. Those with little garden space have embraced growing fruit trees in pots.

Ms Njoki Njuguna who grows over 24 varieties of fruit trees and has a vegetable garden and ornamental plants says that when doing fruit trees in a small area, “keep your fruit trees short and pruned because that way you will get more space for them. Mulching your fruit trees is also important because it can be rainy today and then dry tomorrow.”

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Njoki Njuguna at her garden on August 22, 2023. PHOTO | BILLY OGADA | NMG

Mr Musau says, “I convince most of my clients to set up a kitchen garden in their homes. That way, they do not have to keep going to the market to get vegetables.”

House plants

A trend that seems to last with us is the growing of colourful plants. Plant parents will tell you that it is possible to have plants in every part of your house, including bathrooms, the balcony and the living room area. Nothing beats the calmness and tranquillity that comes with having some plants inside your house.

This year will see the uptake of more colourful house plants with plant lovers seeking to grow the variegated rubber plant, the peace lily, the Chinese evergreen tree, philodendrons and the orchids.

Succulents

With climate change, gardeners are now embracing drought-tolerant plants as they seek to deal with the dry season this year. Landscape designers are finding themselves tasked with planting hardier plants in their clients’ gardens. Succulents are also popular indoor plants as they are easy to maintain and do not require much attention.

“Clients are also asking for small and shorter hedges that will not consume a lot of water and they are growing flowers that do not consume too much water. This is in a bid to deal with the regular water shortage in Nairobi,” Mr Musau says.

Companion gardening

“Companion planting is where you grow two different plants together such that they benefit from one another. An example is basil and tomato, they can grow well together. The basil makes the tomato taste better. It also helps the tomatoes fight some diseases. Marigolds are also grown alongside many plants as they help in keeping away pests due to their strong scent,” Ms Njoki says.

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Njoki Njuguna’s kitchen garden as pictured on August 22, 2023. PHOTO | BILLY OGADA | NMG

Gardening for therapy

One thing that will remain consistent throughout the year is gardening being a form of therapy for many. Not only is it a good form of exercise but gardening has also been used by many as a calming hobby that relaxes the mind and muscles.

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