Love them or lose them, trend watchers tell us they know what to expect in our gardens in 2005.

The coming year will bring us enhanced gardens, patios and lawns, all in lieu of the improvements we used to be making indoors. According to market researchers, landscaping is now the number one "discretionary project" for today's new homeowner. Today, four in five American families garden, spending about $67 billion on gardening and landscaping services combined.

For what it's worth, I offer up a little holiday diversion this week with a peek at what could be happening in the garden world in 2005. The Garden Media Group introduced these trends at the 56th Annual Garden Writers Symposium this fall, and I got word of them via a press release.

Plant and garden gear distributors hire the Media Group to promote their products, so you can take the trends with a grain of salt. Who knows, you might even want to come up with some trends yourself.

• Environmentally sensitive gardening is in. Chemically dependent gardening is out. Garden Media Group promotes products such as aerated compost tea form SoilSoup (soilsoup.com) and notes that environmental product sales are up 200 percent in the last five years.

• Container gardening is in. Plant breeders are creating plants that actually fit container arrangements. For instance, look for patio planter size clematis that bloom from June to October. Keep a space in your containers to change out annuals during the year.

• Empowered plants are in. Needy plants are out. Savvy gardeners are selecting products that have been tested and tried to be "happy" in their growing conditions. Low maintenance plants are high in demand, as are foolproof annuals that need little food and water to bring color from spring to fall. Like people, plants that are less stressed and healthier flourish and add joy to all those around them, note the trend watchers.

• Tropical gardens are in. Cottage gardens are out. Hmmm ... I offer the observation that Northwest gardeners might actually be creating "tropical cottage gardens," full of many traditional perennials, but with tropicals such as phormiums.

• Houseplants are in. We need our sun porches (or rain porches, as my family likes to say), and covered porches need their plants. Also, a mannerly snake plant inside or aloe by the kitchen sink really isn't too much work, I keep telling myself.

• Simple is still in. Clutter is out. We will lean toward plants that don't require heavy maintenance, and provide multi-season interest. As for clutter, apparently we'll start to deal with it in the garden. I'm still dealing with it in the house, but I'll report more on this so-called trend later!

• Mega blooms are in. Seedlings are out. This bothers me a bit, I have to say, because planting from seed is an inexpensive and satisfying way to add to your garden. And what about pass-along plants, those self-seeded babies that are so fun to distribute to your friends? Trend spotters say this prediction is based upon the phenomenon of many consumers having more money than time.

• Specialty annuals are in. This is a trend I will support happily, if only because it means that more and more great plants, such as gigantic-leaved coleus and fluffy flowered impatiens, will be bred for our gardens.

• Vertical gardening is in. One-dimensional gardening is out. With less horizontal space, our need to garden up - or down, for that matter - is growing. Look for more and more trailing plants that can grow up a trellis or on a fence or cascade over a balcony or wall.

• We need help, and will ask for it. According to Robert Dolibois, executive vice president of the American Nursery and Landscape Association, mowing and yard care services as well as fully installed landscapes are the fastest growing areas of the $69 billion lawn and gardening segment. The latest study reports almost $30 billion was spent on landscape services alone.

Cathy Peterson belongs to the Clatsop County Master Gardener Association. "In the Garden" runs weekly in Coast Weekend. Please send comments and gardening news to "In the Garden," The Daily Astorian, P.O. Box 210, Astoria, OR 97103 or online to peterson@pacifier.com

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