There are many reasons to think that our gardens will not look the same in 2050 as they do today.
Gardening trends come and go. But more important are the changes that will come as the global climate continues to warm, and the differences that those changes will bring to the environmental conditions in many gardens and the plants that a specific garden contains.
Models have been developed which show how conditions relating to temperatures, rainfall, and other factors will vary in a given area over the years to come, so scientists have a fairly clear idea of the expected trajectory for specific locations.
We may not yet know exactly where we will end up, but we have a pretty good picture of the road we are on and the direction it is taking us.
What we do not know is how well we, and gardeners in general, will be able to respond to the changes that we know are on their way. Will our gardens increasingly embrace sustainable practices? Or will many gardeners, in the face of hardships, give up on more traditional gardens altogether?
Climate Change Trends That Will Shape Our Gardens
For most of the world, things are heating up. As global temperatures continue to rise, the same changes in temperatures will be seen on a smaller scale, too, in our gardens.
In some areas, the temperature change will be more profound than in others. How challenging the rising temperatures can be will depend on where you live.
Even a small temperature change that does not feel substantial to us can make a big difference in a garden—to the plants we are growing and to the wildlife with which we share our space.
Precipitation is another big thing. Some gardens will get a lot more of it, many a lot less. Of course, this has profound implications for how we garden and what we can grow.
Climate change also brings extreme weather events with increasing frequency. So this is something for which we and our gardens need to be prepared.
Changes in climate can also often mean that the plants that have previously thrived in a given location may no longer do so in the same way. And new plants might be grown in a specific garden that could not be grown there before.
By anticipating changes, we can shape our gardens to ensure that we are growing the right plants in the right places over time, not just in the here and now.
Will We Embrace Sustainable Gardening or Not?
When we try to imagine what gardens will look like in 2050, we not only have to look at how the environmental conditions will change by that point. We also need to think about how gardeners will respond to the immense challenges (and some opportunities) of our changing planet.
One key question to ask is whether gardening will head on the trajectory towards greater biodiversity, nature wisdom, and sustainability or whether gardeners, in general, will take the wrong path and fail to embrace sustainable gardening.
The onus is on each of us to try to make sure that it is the former and that we are not only prepared but also engaged. With the right approaches, we can ensure that our gardens remain beautiful and productive and even become more so than ever before.
Imagining the Garden of 2050
The garden of 2050, it must be hoped, will be one that:
- Has anticipated the climate and micro-climate changes and has been designed with these in mind—planted with the right plants for the right places.[See:[See:Turn Your Garden Into a Refuge for Rare and Endangered Plants]
- Has included diverse communities of plants that work together with stability and resilience.[See:[See:5 Tips for Building Resilience in Your Garden]
- Welcomes in as much wildlife as possible—with habitat loss, animals will be better off if we make helpful con for them.[See:[See:Top Tips for a Wildlife-Friendly Garden]
- Is a water-wise space—making the most of this most precious of resources, however much of it is around. [See:[See:The Role of Water in a Forest Garden Design]
- Produces food and meets other human needs in a reliable and resilient way. As there is a growing recognition that gardens can provide far more than just a space for recreation. [See:[See:How to Schedule Plantings for Year-Round Garden Harvests]
- Generates no waste and operates as a closed-loop system, requiring few, if any, external inputs over time. [See:[See:How to Prevent Waste in Your Garden]
Of course, the garden of 2050 will be many things, and the true picture is likely to be a complex one, where some things have gone well and others not so well when we look at the big picture.
But by leaping forwards in our imaginations and picturing how we want the garden of 2050 to look, we can help to make that picture a reality.
Top illustration: A biodiverse plant garden by designer Piet Oudulf created at the Vitra Design Museum’s garden is used as an example for the future of green spaces in the Spring 2023 exhibition Garden Futures: Designing with Nature.