“The one thing you can’t underestimate is how fantastic it looks in a physical shop. In their purest form, nature and plants create wonderful retail theatre. You can buy a dress for the season, then stroll outside to see some wonderful plants. If you’re a lifestyle retailer, not just a pure fashion retailer, there’s an opportunity.”
Peter Ruis, president of Canadian lifestyle retailer Indigo and former MD of Anthropologie
The #plantfluencer trend has flourished in just a couple of years, making everyone fancy themselves as a bit of a Monty Don. This Drapers article highlights the opportunity for fashion and lifestyle retailers, with houseplants, garden furniture and associated accessories all there for the taking. Having seen the trend infiltrate stores like H&M and Muji pre-pandemic, the last year has understandably seen a hunger for horticulture. From Gucci’s cottagecore obsession and recent collab with veg grower Gerald Stratford for Highsnobiety, to the new retail concept, Garden by Homebase at Next, which will see Next open Homebase shop-in-shop garden centre concepts at six UK sites, there’s plenty of room for growth.
“This retail trend, let’s call it Garden Zoning, shows how far consumers have come when it comes to sprucing up their gardens during the pandemic,” says DRG retail editor – and garden design enthusiast – Alison Farrington. “Many have tuned in to gardening shows such as BBC2‘s My Perfect Garden for inspiration and to reimagine their outdoor space as a seating area or safe socialising zone in the comfort of their own homes. It’s interesting to see that Homebase is expanding its reach by partnering with Next. The likes of Petersham Nurseries and Anthropologie have led the way for blurred inside-outside living and now there’s clearly demand for wider ranges of outdoor rugs and exterior sofas alongside planters and kitchen herb garden paraphernalia. The addition of ‘outdoor space experts’ on the shop floor indicates a level of commitment to this trend that looks set to continue through 2021 and beyond as consumers are still choosing to stay at home post-pandemic and invest in their own ‘garden rooms’.”
Farrington advises novice gardeners to buy ‘successional plants’, “so you have continuous colour and blooms in your gardens throughout the spring and summer months. And there is much joy from planning a cut-flower bed, which is perhaps why dahlias are back in fashion! My new favourite is the Hilcrest Royal variety.” For small spaces, she recommends windowsills as a good place to start, especially for easy-to-grow herbs such as mint, thyme and parsley, “or even pots for patios, so that you can move them around a small space”. For those alarmed by the latest news on eco-unfriendly compost, just look for the peat-free variety. Or cultivate your own ‘Bulky Organic Matter’ from vegetable or garden waste if you have outdoor space.
Me? I’m very much a novice. We have a low maintenance bonsai (gifted – thanks Shiseido!) and a couple of cacti, although I’m looking forward to Mr DRG planting the chilli and padron pepper seeds I got him from the Royal Horticultural Society website*, which has lots of hand-holding instructions and advice.
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IMAGES: Janneke Luursema / The Planthunter; Loewe; Gucci; Janneke Luursema / The Planthunter
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