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Wednesday, August 20, 2014 Vol. 78 No. 4


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Tops in Euro Trends
| Ellen C. Wells
  
>> Published Date: 1/31/2014
 
When it comes to style trends, as Europe goes, so goes the U.S. and Canada, even if it’s a year or two down the road. This goes for all garden-related elements, but especially for containers. So, what’s hot in Euro-style containers? Green Profit asked four folks who have a finger on the pulse of European styles what we can expect to see in the way of container designs. Their answers are as diverse as the countries that make up the continent.


Stacy Sirk, Amsterdam-based Retail Product and Visual Stylist

Colors
Four color palettes are trending for 2014:

•     Military khakis and greens, turquoise, aqua, woody browns, green.
•     Brown and earth colors but the subtle earth tones, with accents in sunflower yellow, tomato red, string bean green.
•     White, ecru, blues and verdant greens, yellow and silvers and grays.
•     Porcelain white to off white, very pale pink, gold, translucent pearls—think of all the colors of pearls you can get now—pink, blue, grey, green, yellow, all in very soft, watery tones.
Beyond these you’ll see gray/lavender, that range of smoky purples, is mixing in with the above.

Fluorescent colors as an accent are still showing up, but just touches. That bright yellow, sunflower and lemon, both work with all the above, but the story is quite neutral, calm, beautiful palettes of refined colors.

Containers
What Stacy is seeing:
•     Round, very important!
•     Three-dimensional geometric shapes (This is a new trend, and a really interesting one to see.)
•     Organic shapes in wood containers
•     Tall conical shapes
•     Recycled wood made into containers
•     Many more single color containers, letting all the interest be in the plant material

Patterning, if there is any, is either graphic line patterns, or patterns embossed into single-color pots. Also to note, on small cachepots, there is BIG interest in lace and crochet, shaped into pots, that become a sleeve for standard plant pots. I am seeing this regularly now, so it’s worth looking out for this.  

Container Sizes
For gardens, pots are generally getting much bigger. Think larger containers, but fewer of them. Having said that, the classic cachepot pot—6-in. and 8-in.—is still great for indoor plants. Large feature pots are coming indoors, too, and maybe what I see that is new is using outdoor pots indoors.

Container Planting
There’s big interest in combining naturalistic planting schemes with more traditional container plants. Also, plants for pollinating insects are key.

In General
Outdoor containers are going larger, and the whites and neutrals are really the big trend.  All the color is in the planting. The zinc containers—like old water tanks—and all the new lightweight “clay” containers in a range of lovely muddy soft grays and browns really show off the plants. The pots are more like the hardscaping in a way, just a beautiful unobtrusive backdrop to the real stars of the show: the plants. Adding wildflower seeds in with container plants is interesting too, creating that wild look, and giving something for the insects, as well.


Erwin Meier-Honegger of Ernst Meier Garden Center, Switzerland

Density Dictates

Erwin Meier-Honegger says the biggest container trend he sees is raised beds for herbs and vegetables, either very simple ones or ones that are more sophisticated.

Pictured: Insect hotels are the latest “container” trend for housing beneficial insects for the garden. “Five-star” hotels such as this can garner as much as $2,000.

“In Switzerland we face a special challenge regarding land-use planning,” Erwin says. “As we have only limited land space but important immigration, garden space is becoming very precious and is therefore decreasing. Multi-story apartment buildings are replacing single-family detached houses. We are moving from classic gardening to terrace/balcony gardening.”

Because of the density of modern living, the container plantings are designed to establish privacy and to be low maintenance. They are typically minimalist in style with grasses and evergreen shrubs. The containers, Erwin says, are rectangular fiber-stone material in gray colors.

Goodbye, Terracotta
Something else to note from Erwin: The terracotta container market is dead. Although his suppliers tell him colorful containers are the coming trend, Erwin says he sees his customers sticking to dove- and anthracite-colored containers.

When it comes to indoor plant décor, Erwin says it seems the stylish container is more important than the plant. “Customers are willing to pay a fortune for special containers but are looking for cheep indoor plants.” Erwin says. That’s something to keep an eye on for the American market, as well.

Containers of Another Kind
Erwin says another “container” is becoming a hot item: insect hotels. Ernst Meier sells small “hotels” and even some five stars luxury holiday homes at price of about $2,000. Meant to house beneficial organisms, these “hotels” are also a decorative addition to the outdoor home. “The insect hotels are made by retirees and we use them as showpieces to promote the regular ones,” Erwin says. But of course, the toppers are also for sale.


FrankBoendermaker, TASC LLC.

Frank Boendermaker and TASC (Trans Atlantic Sales and Consulting) have actively been selling high-end, lightweight European planters in North America for two years. The Capi Lux line that they sell stateside is the bestselling line in Europe “by a mile,” says Frank. “Especially the square cubes and rectangular shapes made of fiberglass,” he clarifies. According to Frank, the black terrazzo look is 70% of total sales in Europe and their sales in North America are trending accordingly. All of their planters are lightweight and made of fiberglass, magnesium or a combination of the two materials. Frank is another confirmation that the terracotta market does not exist anymore in Europe. Pastel colors, however, are very hot in Europe, he says.

“Our planters are somewhat modern in North America but we are making great progress,” says Frank. This style of planter seems to be popular with hospitality businesses such as hotels, malls, office buildings and the like. They are also getting into the garden center market in Canada and they’ll also be sold in Costco this spring.


Keith Turbett, VP of sales for Scheurich

Colors:

Muted color tones, beige in glossy and matte gets a revival for mainstream products. Copper is a color we see coming and silver is also still strong.

Container styles:
Textured or sometimes called structured surfaces, in combination with softer colors.

Container materials:
Lightweight materials (plastic/resin) for outdoor in Europe and slowly but surely in North America. For indoor the wave of ecological pots has slowed down as consumers question the validity of having an ecological pot that doesn’t enhance their plant or their home. Most have a boring look.

Pictured: According to Keith Turbett, copper-colored pots are on trend in Europe.

Container Sizes:
For indoor pots, the 4-in. and 6-in. sizes and up are popular. American orchid growers are slowly replacing the 4-in. and 6-in. orchid pots with 5-in. orchid pots. For outdoors, 13-in. and 16-in. diameter pots are popular.

In General:
Plastics [containers] are growing as the design and color gets better. The price, especially for the indoor market, makes them acceptable for the budget-challenged/Gen Y consumers. For the outdoor market, the lightweight factor—where a plastic pot in, say, a rotational mold design looks as chunky as a clay pot but is 20 times lighter—appeals to consumers, especially the core gardeners of ages 45-plus. Classical terracotta sales are decreasing by the second over here. GP



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