Spotting the hottest garden design trends is something Ellerslie International Flower Show’s General Manager Kate Hillier is uniquely placed to do.Not only does she get a sneak peak at all the designs for the upcoming Ellerslie International Flower Show, Kate’s also a regular guest and judge at top garden shows around the world. 

Kate says six of the trends influencing home gardeners across the country in 2014 are: 

The return of the flowerAfter more than a decade of natives, strong structural planting and hard landscaping dominating garden design, the flower is back. We’re seeing much more ornamental planting across a wider colour palette. The popularity of floral art such as flower arranging is also soaring, with people growing flowers to cut and bring back into their home. 

The garden moves into the homeThe trend of merging the house into the garden, with everyone creating outdoor rooms, is reversing. Now the garden is moving back into the home. This floral trend has swept through the entire house, with flowers featuring in fabrics, homeware and other aspects of interior design. 

A haven of relaxationGardens are becoming havens of relaxation, with features like fire pits and outdoor baths offering space for people to rest and rejuvenate. Designers are creating small, secluded rooms in the garden that provide peace and privacy. Gardens can evoke strong emotions and the trend right now is to provoke a blissful smile. Many of the gardens you’ll see at Ellerslie in 2014 tap into this trend. 

Going wild for beesBees are under threat and need all the love and pollen that gardeners and their gardens have to offer. Wildflowers are one answer – a trend that was strong at Chelsea Flower Show last year. Stunning plant schemes gave the impression a packet of wildflower seeds had been scattered wildly across the landscape, although of course the gardens had been meticulously planned and planted. There’s also an interest in seeing gardens attracting useful companion insects like spiders and beetles. 

Sustainability still going strongA focus on the garden as a source of sustenance in the face of limited resources remains a strong trend. Vegetable growing remains huge. As gardens also get smaller people are looking for plants that offer a double whammy – for example a compact plum tree with beautiful blossoms in spring. Flower gardens increasingly feature blooms that are also edible or medicinal. 

Seeding knowledgeMore people in the community are gaining basic gardening skills after a “lost generation”, thanks in part to more schools stepping up, people wanting to create home vegetable gardens and grandparents passing on knowledge. This is seeing a move away from instant, low maintenance gardens to people becoming more patient and growing from seed or taking cuttings.

Images (top to bottom): Trend 3 (A Haven of Relaxation); Trend 4 (Going Wild for Bees); Trend 5 (Sustainability still going Strong); and Kate Hillier, General Manager, Ellerslie International Flower Show.