Plants That Thrive In New England

Zinnia-Zahara-Collection-2015-Massachusetts-Horticultural-Society-Field-Trials FEATURENew England is known for its tough winters and beautiful, if short, summers. We collected the top performing plants at the Massachusetts Horticultural Society and D.S. Cole Greenhouses in New Hampshire. There are several perennials included in the photo gallery, along with the expected annuals.

Before viewing the photo gallery, here are a few notes about how each trial was conducted and the growing conditions.

Massachusetts Horticultural Society, University of Massachusetts, and Massachusetts Flower Growers’ Association

The New England Trial Garden was established at Elm Bank, Wellesley, MA, in 1996 as a cooperative effort between the University of Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Flower Growers’ Association and the Massachusetts Horticultural Society. For its 20th season, the Trial Garden displayed a total of 230 entries: 160 annuals and 70 perennials. The annuals are tried both in the ground and in 12-inch patio pots. The perennials stay in the ground for two whole years to monitor their hardiness in New England climate.

After a record-breaking snowy winter and a late frost in April, the Trial Garden had up and down temperatures in May and weekly rains until June. The three months of summer were very dry, with two heat waves and about 10 days over 90°F, even in September. Rain didn’t return until the end of September.

This year, plantings were completed by the first days of June. The plants were then judged by Garden Keeper Martha Kramer, Gardens Curator David Fiske, and Horticulturist Thibaut Collin.

D.S. Cole Greenhouses, Louden, NH

Each year D.S. Cole Greenhouses trials many new varieties in 4-inch pots during spring production. These 550 varieties are compared against varieties that are already on the market. If it feels a new variety could be an improvement over an existing variety, it then continues trialing it in larger pots for the summer. Varieties that “make the grade” and are added to the catalog get put into large pots as well as in garden settings so they can be viewed at our open house approximately August first.

New Hampshire is known for cold winters. It can also have stretches of high humidity and high temperatures during the summer. This past summer was no exception. During D.S. Cole’s open house, the temperatures were in the 90s.


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