The 2017 D.S. Cole Growers field trials grew well in Loudon, NH. Doug Cole, owner of the operation, shared the following information about the trials:
We had a fairly normal summer without excess rain and without drought conditions.
The ability to get all the trial material planted on the same week is our biggest hurdle. One issue is that since most of the product is new, the actual availability of the starter material can vary by breeder. Some of the material is coming from labs and some is from well-established mother stock. Breeders have different production schedules for new product, especially when they are hurrying to get a new product to market.
We found it interesting that some species performed better this year than expected and others did not. For example, the Argyranthemum ‘Beauty Yellow’ flowered continuously throughout the summer while some petunia varieties went through flowering cycles, which is unusual. This was the first year we saw more consistent flowering on the petunias in ground beds over the ones planted in large pots.
The biggest favorite in the trials was Senecio ‘Angel Wings’. This plant has velvety silver-white leaves that people couldn’t stop touching. They appear so soft and yet they have a sheen to them. This plant gives you the impression that it might be related to Stachys, when it is closely related to Dusty Miller.
Even though Petunia ‘Amore Queen of Hearts’ from Danziger is not new, it drew attention with its contrasting flower color pattern. These flowers have a special sheen to them.
The Chameleon calibrachoa from Westhoff was another series from last year that proved itself this spring and summer with a perfect shape and continuous bloom. It appears by attendees’ reactions that this will be a very popular series in 2018.
In the past, annual phlox varieties have had some issues. The Gisele series from Selecta performed well all spring and continued looking good in the trials throughout the summer.
Thunbergia ‘Arizona Rose Sensation’ was a big hit. We have been used to seeing either yellow or orange thunbergia for so many years. This vibrant rose-pink flower now gives more opportunities for thunbergia to be sold alone or in combinations. Rose Sensation has a friendly habit typical of the existing popular thunbergia. It also flowers easily with many blooms open at once.
Begonia ‘Encanto Orange Improved’ was a surprise to us this year. We did not realize that this variety had been improved until we noticed how much more compact the begonia grew compared to in the past. One of the criticisms of Encanto Orange was that although it grows perfectly outside in full sun during the summer, it has a tendency to stretch in the greenhouse. This year we found the improved variety had a great growth habit all spring, both indoors and out.
We had attendees at our open house rank their favorite plants including both new and old varieties. The clear favorite was Senecio ‘Angel Wings.’ Next in line was Thunbergia ‘Arizona Rose Sensation’ followed by a succulent display, Sunflower ‘Sunfinity,’ and Calibrachoa ‘Chameleon Blueberry Scone.’
Here’s a few more varieties that were a big hit this summer in the field trials:
Patio Gerbera ‘Capitol Reef’
Dahlia ‘XXL Merida’
Echeveria ‘First Lady’
Cordyline ‘Torbay Dazzler’
Begonia ‘Miss Montreal’
Calibrachoa ‘Minifamous Neo Pink Strike’
Canna ‘Cannova Yellow’
Geranium ‘Calliope Medium White’
Osteospermum ‘4D Sunburst’
Petunia ‘ColorWorks Ruby Star’
Scaevola Bombay Series
Mandevilla ‘Bella White’ and ‘Bella Compact Red’