2016 Massachusetts Horticultural Society Field Trials Results

The New England trial garden located at Elm Bank in Wellesley, MA, showcased 240 entries, including 160 cultivars of annuals, tested both in-ground and in 12-inch patio pots, and 80 different perennials monitored for a minimum of 24 months. Trial Manager Thibaut Collin says the trials this year experienced abnormally hot weather, with 24 days above 90 degrees (twice the average for the area) and extreme drought (the rainfall deficit was 9.5 inches as of mid-September).

Trial Manager Thibaut Collin Comments On Top Performers

Among the best performers are the Ipomoea batatas Sweet Caroline collection, including the very dark, three-lobed cultivar ‘Raven,’; the new Artemisia stelleriana ‘Quicksilver,’ a highly competitive silver ground cover that could also be used as a standalone in a container; and the Vinca Valiant and Titan collections, that have shown a lush, disease- and bug-free foliage and generous and continuous blooming. Vinca ‘Valiant White’ also deserves a special mention for the exceptional flower coverage all season long. The Angelonia Angelface new collection of tall (‘Super Pink’ is 36 inches) and strong-stemmed summer snapdragons was a favorite, too, with its ceaseless blooming period and large flowers. It needed no special care, making it very suitable for landscape use as well as for cut flowers. The new, first-year blooming lavender grown from seed, Lavandula ‘Lavance Deep Purple,’ is well-branched and compact and is particularly interesting for its ability to grow a new set of flowers in the late summer, which allows for a second selling period. Achillea millefolium ‘New Vintage Rose’ and ‘New Vintage Violet’ are great early-flowering perennials with a dense and clean foliage that grow a succession of 14 inch flower heads for different shades of color all summer long.

A continuous improvement on coleus has considerably delayed the flower induction on new cultivars ‘Inferno’ and ‘Ruby Slipper,’ with just a few flower spikes in semi-shade and none in shade. Both introductions have a strong branching habit and can grow 30 inches tall. Innovations keep enriching the New Guinea Impatiens family too, notably cultivars like Impatiens hawkeri ‘Divine Orchid’ with a punchy pink color and ‘Infinity Lavender Improved’ for more of a pastel effect, both have big flowers and a healthy shiny foliage.

Visitors looking for pollinator-friendly plants have been delighted by the Gaillardia Mesa collection, a series of compact varieties of blanket flowers with a renewed generous blooming, which performed well in a container, while providing food for honeybees and bumblebees.

Professional visitors have been particularly enthusiastic about some of the All-America Selection trials, including a true-red Zinnia that is particularly floriferous and compact, about 20 inches tall, covered with large 3-inch flowers with a deep color that was absent from the market, as well as a very showy purple Echinaceae. These two anonymous candidates seem to be well on track to win the award, and we can’t wait for their identity to be unveiled.

Top Performing Annuals

Angelonia ‘Angelface Super Pink’
Artemisia stelleriana ‘Quicksilver’
Calibrachoa ‘StarShine Blue’
Calibrachoa ‘Superbells Coralina’
Ipomoea batatas ‘Sweet Caroline Raven’
Lantana ‘Lucky Red’
Verbena ‘EnduraScape Pink Bicolor’
Petunia ‘ColorRush Pink’
Petunia ‘Supertunia Vista Bubblegum’
Vinca ‘Valiant White’

Top Performing Perennials

Achillea millefolium ‘New Vintage Violet’ and ‘New Vintage Rose’
Hemerocallis ‘Double Pardon Me’
Lavandula ‘Lavance Deep Purple’
Penstemon ‘MissionBells Deep Rose’
Perovskia atriplicifolia ‘Crazy Blue’
Salvia greggii ‘Mirage Cherry Red’
Veronica ‘Moody Blues Dark Blue’

Visitor Favorites

Achillea milefolium ‘New Vintage Violet’
Angelonia ‘Angelface Super Pink’
Coleus ‘Inferno’
Lantana ‘Lucky Red’
Verbena ‘EnduraScape Magenta’
Vinca ‘Titan Blush Improved’

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