With more folk wanting to cultivate their own fruit and veg, a new black petunia, and a return to garden traditionalism, 2011 looks intriguing

From eco-scaping, to black petunias, to a shake-up on Gardener's World, 2011 holds plenty of intrigue for gardeners. And while the world of horticulture doesn't adopt and discard trends as quickly as the catwalk, there are still plants, places and events which look set to influence the way we'll garden in the year to come.

We could treat Monty Don's imminent return to Gardener's World as a move back to traditionalism. Don's passion for vegetable growing is well known and this is one trend that shows no signs of slowing down in the coming year. Mintel's Consumer Trends report for 2011 flagged up the desire, in particular of city dwellers, to bring gardening and fresh produce into their lives, pointing out that one in five people in the UK grow their own fruit and veg and that the UK allotment waiting list grew by 20 per cent in 2010.

A survey of garden centre trends carried out by Hangar Seven found the top items on gardeners' wishlists included a vegetable plot, a greenhouse and a shed. Neil Fishlock, Head of Horticulture for Dobbies Garden Centres says, "Consumers will continue to grow their own fruit and vegetables at home – this has been a strong theme for a number of years now and will become even more popular in 2011 with the introduction of chickens to the garden as even more customers look to live the 'good life'."

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The Garden Media Group think that in 2011, interest in growing our own and creating urban green sanctuaries will continue to increase, and they use the term "eco-scaping" to describe the way that using native plants and gardening for wildlife will continue to develop. Neil Fishlock also highlights the rise of "self-contained gardens" which make the most of a small growing space. "Whether you're a green-fingered gardening guru or a complete novice you can brighten up the smallest of areas including balconies and small patios with colourful hanging baskets, wig-wam sweet peas, 'micro-veg', as well as small vegetable beds and pots," he says. He reckons that "upside-down-growing tomatoes" will also make an appearance in self-contained gardens across the land.

In terms of new plant and flower introductions, the one that everyone's talking about is the petunia Black Velvet. Unlike other "black" flowers which are actually a dark red or purple, this one's the real thing. In terms of new plants, Neil Fishlock says: "Flowers that are quick and easy to plant, care for and quick to grow will be very much in fashion this year. Flowers such as dahlias and begonias will be very popular for all gardeners throughout 2011." Begonia Glowing Embers is one to look out for – a weather-resistant patio plant with tangerine-coloured single flowers and dark bronze-green foliage, which has won several awards. Another sunny addition to the patio is Calibrachoa "Cabaret Mango Tango" which has peachy blooms and which keeps on flowering even in low light conditions.

If there's one annual event that is guaranteed to have an impact on gardens, it's the Chelsea Flower Show (24-28 May, www.rhs.org.uk). This year's shortlist of show gardens has already been confirmed and highlights include multi-gold-medal-winning designer Bunny Guinness, whose M&G Garden will be a modern take on a traditional kitchen garden. The B&Q Garden will pick up on the trend for vertical gardening with an 8 metre-high wall of window boxes demonstrating vertical farms and urban food production.

Another hot tip is the Laurent-Perrier Garden, by award-winning designer Luciano Giubbilei, which brings together garden, art and architecture. Closer to home, the dates for Gardening Scotland (www.gardeningscotland.com) have been confirmed as 3–5 June, when the popular annual event will return to the Royal Highland Centre, Edinburgh.

And 2011 marks the 66th year of garden conservation management by the National Trust for Scotland. Robert Grant, head of gardens and designed landscapes at NTS says: "The winter weather has taken its toll on some trees and shrubs with broken branches and collapsed hedges, and with excessively cold temperatures some plants will have succumbed. The year will begin with assessing the damage and losses and making amends before the start of the visitor season."

Looking forward, Grant's highlights for 2011 include the Arduaine Spring Festival which has a packed programme of guest speakers, tours with experts and gourmet dining at Loch Melfort Hotel. Meanwhile, the formal terraced gardens at William Adam's Aberdeenshire masterpiece, Haddo House, are currently undergoing a major restoration to recreate the 1840s design by the 4th Earl of Aberdeen and the artist James Giles. "Work has been ongoing for some time and 2011 should see significant changes in the historic garden," says Grant.

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NTS has a longstanding relationship with Scotland's Gardens Scheme and will be taking part in the annual gardens' open programme during 2011. Seasonal highlights range from the first-time opening of Balmerino Abbey, Newport-on-Tay on 12 February, to a propagation class at Greenbank garden on 3 April. At Drum Castle, Aberdeenshire, there will be a celebration of tulips on 20 May, and on 9 July an Evening with Roses walk with the Head Gardener. For a full listing of all NTS gardens and other private gardens open under Scotland's Gardens Scheme, visit www.gardensofscotland.org

As 2011 is the International Year of Forests, this will form a major theme for exhibitions and events at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. "Everyone knows about tropical rainforests but there are also temperate rainforests in Chile, for example, and even the old Caledonian forest in Scotland," says Dr David Rae, RBGE's Director of Horticulture. "We want to remind people that temperate forests are suffering the same issues of deforestation." In terms of the gardens, Rae says he expects the Biodiversity Garden at RBGE to really come into its own this year and the demonstration gardens are in for a revamp. "We're also putting in a fruit garden," says Rae, "so students can work there and our adult courses can practise pruning. We'll use it to remind people about the importance of fruit and the wild origins of fruit trees." So whatever your horticultural interests, there's plenty to keep you busy in the coming year.

• This article was first published in The Scotsman on January 15, 2011

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