Trend-spotters are reading the horticultural tea leaves these days.
It’s an annual practice that I remember so well from my newsroom career when, without fail, we reporters were asked to compile the obligatory “forecast” story. I covered retail, and you could imagine how loathe Seattle’s major retail CEOs were to tell me anything about the coming year when it was just days after Christmas and they hadn’t tallied up the current year’s performance.
But, alas, we all want a glimpse into the future. And that’s what going to industry trade shows can help reveal. A peek into the products, plants, tools and design items you may be seeing in 2011’s backyards.
This post continues with even more interesting offerings. Or the ones that caught my interest anyway. I welcome your reaction. Are these items you can see yourself purchasing for your garden? Do you even NEED more products? (That’s a long conversation, isn’t it?).
I really enjoyed meeting Jill Plumb, a school teacher who came up with a brilliantly simple method of building raised beds.
Her product is called M Brace. It is a decorative steel corner bracket that holds lumber at a 45-degree angle WITHOUT HARDWARE (note: this is a big selling point for anyone who has dragged the electric drill and 100-foot-long orange extension cord out to the backyard to try and wrestle together a box for the tomatoes).
Jill told me that she got this “big idea” one day while re-loading paper napkins into a “slot” style napkin holder.
Something clicked and she saw in her mind’s eye how easy it would be to have a bracket that emulated that napkin holder. Just larger, more durable and also pretty. Several prototypes later, including the support of her students who she involved in the design process, packaging development and marketing, Jill’s M Brace is looking very professional and has already hit garden center shelves in some markets.
Made from recycled steel (natural or powder-coated), with decorative cut-outs including a squiggle, sun, carrot or bamboo fronds, the set of 4 brackets has a $165/set recommended retail price. Jill continues to offer new product ideas such as “edging” made from the leftover swirl pieces or plant stakes from the leftover carrot cutouts. Brilliant!
I spotted another clever system to corral plants – especially in this case, vines – in the Feeney Architectural Products booth.
We see so much over-designed crap in the marketplace, which is one reason why I appreciated Feeney’s simple use of stainless steel cables to create a trellis for climbing plants. Feeney’s 3-in-1 Trellisis an easy-to-assemble wall-mount trellis kit with 1/8-inch diameter rods and special mounting components that can be configured into a Fan, Grid or Diamond design. This is a lightweight solution that does require measuring and drilling skills to install, but can turn a blah wall or fence into something quite beautiful. Just add a vine of your choice and voila! Something quite pretty. Suggested retail: $199.
Feeney also uses stainless steel cables in its inexpensive “It’s a Cinch” plant hanger and in a freestanding trellis panel kit. The Greenway Trellis has a frame of aluminum tubing and a square-grid pattern for the vines. The frame legs can be set in compacted gravel or concrete footings, or they can be base-mounted on a deck or patio. That square-grid pattern also shows up in the Somerset II Trellis, which has top and bottom powder-coated aluminum brackets. It is also a wall-mount system but a little larger than the 3-in-1.