BOSCAWEN -- S pringtime is the season of renewal, and there are lots of new and exciting things in store for gardeners and home owners as the 2014 growing season gets off to a chilly start.
At the Black Forest Nursery & Garden Center, color is the name of the game as folks begin planning their summer gardens. Spread across the grounds of the garden center are new varieties of old-fashioned shrubs and trees, said John Maze, who helps run the family business with his wife Suzanne.
Maze said he's expecting the new "Lavender Twist" redbud to catch the attention of homeowners this year. The weeping redbud flowers in the spring before its leaves emerge, much like a magnolia, he said, and the branches of the tree are red, which makes it a focal point in the winter when the world is covered in that cold, white stuff whose name shall not be mentioned.
Hydrangeas, one of the most popular shrubs sold at Black Forest, are typically found in blues and pinks, but two new purple varieties are in store for this year including "Bloom Struck" and "Blushing Bride."
Maze also has massive blueberry bushes in 25-gallon containers called "Elliot." The bushes are a late-blooming variety and come looking like they're ready to start making berries right out of the gate.
In the greenhouse, delicate blossoms of the klanchoe, in a variety of baby-soft colors are joined by the gentle pink blossoms of the new "Martha Washington" geranium. And this year, greenhouse manager Chris Minery said she's thrilled to finally have kale on hand.
"Kale is a biggy," she said. "I'm so glad we have it."
It takes more than just plants to make a landscape, and trends in landscape design and architecture are continuing to evolve.
Mark Rynearson, a landscape architect and designer from Goffstown, said more and more often, homeowners are looking for low-maintenance improvements to their properties.
"People do not necessarily know how to achieve this," said the owner of The Rynearson Company, but that desire is almost always first on the list.
There's also a move away from exotic plants as folks start to long for the plants that are native to New Hampshire. But the struggle with native varieties is that they don't produce the color and appearance people who pay for landscaping want to see. Rynearson is dealing with those limitations by using "improved natives" which are hybrids of native plants that improve the aesthetic appeal but still remind folks of days gone by.And though it may seem redundant, landscape architect and designer Eric Buck of Terrain Planning and Design in Bedford said that folks are going "green" even in their back yards.
Reducing the amount of water being consumed is important to homeowners, as is the use of permeable pavers that allow water to run through them and into the ground instead of creating puddles and pools where the runoff collects.
Outdoor living spaces, everything from patios to full kitchens, continue to capture the attention of homeowners.
"People have been cooped up all winter and are excited to work with us to create outdoor rooms that they can enjoy," said Buck.
Lots of people are putting in swimming pools, and the fire pit continues to be a focal point of many back yards living spaces. Lighting is moving away from incandescent and toward LED lights as the technology and aesthetic character of the newer lights continues to improve, Rynearson said.
"Landscape lighting, in general, is being recognized as a good way to extend living space (and time) outdoors, so is increasingly popular," he said.