Boho Blooms: All About The New Carefree Garden Credo

Design by Jeff Leatham. Photo courtesy of the New York Botanical Garden.

Design by Jeff Leatham. Photo courtesy of the New York Botanical Garden.

Among the trends in landscape design is embracing bolder, happier colors and never feeling boxed in again.

Landscape designers say the tightly boxed-in boxwood, so endearing for that upper-crust English garden look, has been replaced by a freer, lusher romantic garden without borders to define it.

“As people have spent more time outside in gardens because of the pandemic, they’ve become more sophisticated”, says landscape designer Jan Johnsen, author of Gardentopia: Design Basics for Creating Beautiful Outdoor Spaces. “They have an enhanced appreciation of texture in landscape design – they want brighter colors and more variation in height, and they are open to trying new plants.”

So yes, boxwoods are now not as popular. What has been the substitute?

Using more airy arches, building overhanging porches, repurposing old couches and tables and adding colorful sculptures in the garden to define it in new ways, says Iftikhar Ahmed of TREELiNEDESiGNZ, a coveted, international designer based in Oregon. “We see more outdoor living rooms mixing nature with furniture.” Places, he adds, that have zen qualities along with boho chic.

For an installation that won gold at the most recent Philadelphia Flower Show, Ahmed took bamboo poles and painted them in a kaleidoscope of colors, and built a gazebo (pictured) that matched the bright bold hydrangeas floating around it. He also used leafy tropical grasses and hosta plants, which are not only low maintenance but also help the existing flowers pop more.

“Every single plant on earth blooms with purpose, and it’s always a discovery to find ways to combine them,” says Ahmed, noting that the different textures, colors and shapes of grasses, and plants and ferns, are now playing a more prominent role in gardens.

The green trend – having far more interesting plants along with flowers – is rooted in the sustainability conversation that continues to grow and change design thinking. Clients want pollinator-friendly gardens with milkweed, snapdragon and echinacea to attract butterflies and bees. Earthy eucalyptus and birch trees are finding popularity as well for their interesting textures that compliment a garden.

And more significantly, instead of one focal garden, why not a few strategic gardens to create cozy enclaves and sanctuaries in new patterns?

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