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by Ken Lain, the mountain gardener
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, 2020 was an unprecedented year, to say the least. Despite the COVID-induced problems, stay at home orders created a massive demand for gardening.
An estimated 18 million new gardeners entered the category nationwide in 2020. That trend is expected to continue and grow in 2021. In Prescott, Watters Garden Center saw a 21% increase in new customers and seeing increased demand already this spring.
In 2020 we saw double-digit growth in all things edible, from fruit trees and berries to tomato, pepper, and squash, with a noticeable increase in heirloom and organic varieties. The primary garden interest for 2021 is a mix of edible plants, vegetables and herbs, ornamentals, and house plants.
As the spring planting season begins, you will notice five distinct trends at the garden center for 2021.
Gardening for Immunity
Vitamin-packed edibles improve well-being and foster a healthy immune system. Healthy, organic foods are more vital to local gardeners than years past. Planting an immunity garden boosts health picked right from your backyard. More than COVID safe air and activity, nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables support a gardener’s overall health and well-being.
New flower colors and fragrance brings joy, happiness, and laughter to the home for 2021. Flower gardens bring the kid out in us. These new varieties are easier to grow than ever. Many fresh hydrangeas you’ll witness this spring, like Watters purple blooming Serenade Hydrangea. Even this week, the 2021 lilacs and forsythia arrived for the start of this bloom season.
The rising trend in plant-based meals is accelerating in 2021. Growing plenty of vegetables in your personal garden provides instant access to fresh ingredients for a satisfying meal right at home any day of the week.
Homes are now filled with full-time work, kids wrestling with online learning, and isolation stresses. A garden is a peaceful place where time is relaxed. With all the hustle and bustle indoors, some relaxation outdoors is needed. It is possible to cultivate a tranquil environment where a gardener can contemplate, meditate, invigorate, and relax.
World Herb Garden
International travel has come to a grind. Although we may not physically travel, fresh herbs allow senses to travel to exotic places around the globe. World herb gardens inspire globe-trotting without leaving the backyard. Bright, punchy, aromatic herbs from around the world are easy to grow. Herbs like Thai basil, lemongrass, fennel, and cilantro grow quickly and add that exotic flavor to any organic dish or tea.
Online Shopping is Here to Stay
Online shopping experienced a massive rise in 2020 across all industries.
Top10Plants.com was launched in 2020 to mimic what’s found here at Watters Garden Center, and something really interesting happened. Just 5% of Watters sales come from online orders, but many more gardeners use it as a research tool or gardener shopping list.
This week, we had an online order for 10 Barnyard Manures and a 20# bag of Watters Fruit and Vegetable Food from a person in North Carolina. They also have a Prescott home, so they paid the online order and had their gardener pick it up. Interestingly, we find local gardeners researching local plants and building a shopping list through the site but never pay for them online. The next day, we see them at the garden center to smell and touch the plants they researched, then buy them directly from the physical garden center. The hybrid online experience is here to stay.
Garden Classes from afar
Watters Garden Center typically hosts 50 to 100 students to spring garden classes, that has all changed. We now host 20-30 gardeners physically at the garden center with 200+ students streaming the live class through Watters YouTube channel, Twitter, or Facebook pages. Last year we had 2 million viewers of Watters YouTube videos, and we just blew past 10,000 podcast downloads. Watters has hosted garden classes 59 years in a row, and we never dreamed online learning would be so popular. The hybrid online learning experience is here to stay.
February Gardening Classes Every Saturday at Watters Garden Center.
February 13 @ 9:30 am ~ Mountain Fruit Trees and the Heavy Harvest.
February 20 @ 9:30 am ~ Gardening for Newcomers.
February 27 @ 9:30 am ~ Evergreens that Bloom Early.
Until next week, I’ll be helping locals find their own trends here at Watters Garden Center.