Chasing The Flags At UGA’s Field Trials

Chasing The Flags At UGA's Field Trials

The Trial Gardens at the University of Georgia (UGA) are open every day, and every day campus and townspeople wander through, enjoying the beauty and occasionally taking notes. Each year we organize two formal open houses, one for the commercial industry and one for the gardening public. This year we had nearly 300 people at the industry affair in June.

Three weeks later, we hosted nearly 500 people at the public get-together. Each attendee is given three small plastic flags to tag their favorite plants. When presented with more than 2,000 taxa, choosing but three is a daunting task.

From these events, we learn a number of things–not all plant related. The first is that people are returning to plants. Even given the miserable economy, the depressing news we are constantly subjected to, and for us, temperatures well over 90°F on the days of the open houses, record numbers of people came to see flowers, beauty and fragrance. They even paid! It is still tough out there, but let’s be at least as optimistic as our visitors.

The second thing we learn is that people want to be impressed. Often it is not the jazzy new cultivar hyped at California Spring Trials that catches a visitor’s eyes, but the lesser-known plants in a mixed container or single flower in a basket or bed that is most popular. However, if a plant does not get flagged, it’s not necessarily a negative–it may be the result of too many geraniums, petunias or calibrachoas on display. So people simply walk by. But there is no denying the buzz when a dozen flags are fluttering in front of one variety.

Lastly, members of the floral industry and the public do not always agree on what catches the eye. But I suppose that’s no newsflash.

The overall winner, hereafter named the UGA Award (pronounced “ugg-uh,” not as individual letters) is rudbeckia ‘Denver Daisy’ from Benary. Voted first overall in the industry visit and second by the public, this is the only plant that was in the top five vote-getters by both groups. Even those of us who see it every day give it top marks.

Other Picks

‘Scentropia Dark Blue’ heliotropium. This was a bit of surprise to us, but it’s a great plant to be sure. People loved the deep color and excellent habit of this Syngenta Flowers variety. This was number two in the industry polling and also did well by the public.

Generic vines. Another huge surprise: Two vines absolutely kicked the competition. Senecio confusus (orange flamevine) was in full flower during the industry open house, and Cissus discolor (rex begonia vine) was in the garden community’s top five. This is a quick lesson for those who discount vines: if properly displayed, people love them.

Petunias. We have more than 75 petunias on display so I was particularly interested in which varieties would be selected. The overall winner chosen by both groups was ‘Rhythm and Blues’ from Ball FloraPlant. Industry people chose Ball FloraPlant’s ‘Black Velvet’ first, but the public chose ‘Pretty Much Picasso’ from Proven Winners as its runaway winner, followed by Syngenta’s ‘Hurrah Blue Vein.’ ‘Black Velvet’ did not make the public list.

Coleus. There was not as much interest in coleus this year compared to other years–none was in the industry top 10–but the public still loves them. Athens Select’s ‘Mariposa’ was ranked number four overall by gardeners. ‘Red Head’ and ‘Henna’ from Ball FloraPlant also garnered significant public flags.

Lantanas. Only a dozen or so lantanas were on display in 2010, and ‘Lucky Sunrise Rose’ was the clear winner in industry polling. No lantana cracked the public top 10.

Geraniums. A difficult category to judge because of the sheer numbers. The only one to be on both lists was Syngenta’s ‘Caliente Orange,’ although Syngenta’s ‘Calliope Deep Red’ and Dömmen’s ‘Atlantic Burgundy’ did well in public voting.

Portulacas. These were also surprise vote-getters, but if allowed to show off, there are few more eye-catching plants. Way ahead of everyone (fifth place, public) was Sakata’s ‘Duet Rose & Yellow Stripe.’ The public also liked Danziger’s ‘Pazazz Ultra Pink’ but none made the industry’s top 10.

Osteospermums. The best by far was Ecke’s ‘Crescendo Primrose,’ which has been stunning from day one. Not far behind it was ‘Crescendo Yellow.’

Vegetables. We displayed many veggies in the trials this year and, oh my, did the public love them. We focused mainly on the patio vegetables from Floranova. The overall winner in this category was ‘Ivory’ eggplant, with small, clean white fruit. Pay attention to these patio varieties, we may only have a few strong market years in vegetables, so let’s take advantage of public sentiment. 

Leave a Reply

More From Varieties...
Dr Allan Armitage

June 25, 2016

Three Types Of Plant Consumers To Watch

There are three emerging groups of plant consumers that you should be targeting for plant sales in the future, according to Allan Armitage.

Read More
FleuroStar Award Ceremony

June 20, 2016

Begonia Hybrid ‘Miss Malibu’ Takes Home FleuroStar Award

The award from Fleuroselect was announced at the Green Inspiration Event in Amsterdam.

Read More
Caryopteris 'Beyond Midnight Bluebeard'

June 20, 2016

Keep The Sales Coming With 16 New Blooming Varieties For Fall

Plants that put on a show from first frost long into fall and offer the color options consumers want for their gardens go a long way toward extending sales further into the season and can help maintain your sales momentum going strong. Check out these 16 new blooming varieties, both traditional favorites and new alternatives, for your fall crop selection.

Read More
Latest Stories
Dr Allan Armitage

June 25, 2016

Three Types Of Plant Consumers To Watch

There are three emerging groups of plant consumers that you should be targeting for plant sales in the future, according to Allan Armitage.

Read More
FleuroStar Award Ceremony

June 20, 2016

Begonia Hybrid ‘Miss Malibu’ Takes Home FleuroStar Awar…

The award from Fleuroselect was announced at the Green Inspiration Event in Amsterdam.

Read More
Caryopteris 'Beyond Midnight Bluebeard'

June 20, 2016

Keep The Sales Coming With 16 New Blooming Varieties Fo…

Plants that put on a show from first frost long into fall and offer the color options consumers want for their gardens go a long way toward extending sales further into the season and can help maintain your sales momentum going strong. Check out these 16 new blooming varieties, both traditional favorites and new alternatives, for your fall crop selection.

Read More
'Osaka' Flowering Cabbage (Sakata Ornamentals)

June 18, 2016

Mark Your Calendar For Sakata Seed Trials In August

Sakata has set two dates for its California-based trials: Aug. 15-17 in Salinas, and Aug. 17-19 in Woodland.

Read More
Tomato Congress Logo

June 15, 2016

International Tomato Congress In Mexico Will Focus On G…

The event, which takes place in San Luis Potosi from July 20-22, will feature discussions on production strategies, cost management in protected structures, and optimizing your greenhouse environment.

Read More
Nir Nursery Wax Flower Pot Plant

June 14, 2016

Danziger Reaches Deal To Distribute Nir Nursery Varieti…

With the agreement, Danziger becomes the exclusive distributor of Nir’s product line, which includes cut flowers, foliage, pot, and garden plants.

Read More

June 14, 2016

Dümmen Orange Expands Its Succulent Offerings Through N…

According to Dümmen Operations Director Kate Santos, succulents are an attractive growth category because of their ease of use, shelf life in stores, drought tolerance, and versatility in application.

Read More
'Osaka' Flowering Cabbage (Sakata Ornamentals)

June 14, 2016

New Cool Season, Vegetable, And Foliage Crops For Fall …

Whether you’re providing pansies and violas to the garden center for fall color or decorative edibles to grace patio containers, consider these 16 varieties for fall crop sales, newly introduced for 2016 and hitting retail in 2017.

Read More
Calibrachoa Chameleon Sunshine Berry (Westflowers) - Feature

June 9, 2016

Fall Crop Alternatives That Can Increase Your Sales

There’s a lot of competition for grabbing your share of fall mum sales. Give your program a boost with new varieties that complement traditional fall crops.

Read More

June 7, 2016

It’s Time To Rethink The Value And Timing Of Cali…

Fourteen years ago, Greenhouse Grower saw an opportunity to bring next-day coverage of California Pack Trials (now California Spring Trials or CAST) to your inbox. The objective was to be your eyes and ears on location, to report the debut of the newest varieties and marketing programs, and report major breeder announcements, especially for those not attending. We continued to develop new story-telling tools with video capabilities, slideshows, and more. And once social media took hold, everyone attending CAST became reporters of their favorite varieties and displays at trials. So we’re left with the question — how should we continue to evolve our coverage, to bring the most value for you? It’s easy to fall into a certain pattern, to stick with what works — or seems to work. And just because you’re working really hard at something that you’ve had success with in the past, it doesn’t mean it’s […]

Read More
Carex 'Eversheen' (Hoffman Nursery)

June 7, 2016

Hoffman Nursery Has A New 30-Year Anniversary Look!

The new redesign of the Hoffman Nursery website packs in more content than ever with updated resources and 30 years of experience growing grasses.

Read More
GG June Cover image

June 6, 2016

The State Of Plant Breeding In 2016

Breeding companies look to strengthen their competitive advantage, easing the way for growers to procure new plant varieties and for consumers to grow with confidence.

Read More
Petunia Queen of Hearts

June 1, 2016

Danziger Introducing New Petunia Amore Series, And More…

Danziger “Dan” Flower Farm is planning to introduce 60 new varieties from its 2016-17 collection at the annual event, including petunias, bidens, and calibrachoa.

Read More
Nathan Lamkey Chuck Pavlich Allan Armitage talk about muckgenia

May 31, 2016

Allan Armitage: Three Trends (Good And Bad) That Caught…

We need to put the same energies we invest into California Spring Trials to get plants into consumers’ hands and encourage young people in the industry to attend.

Read More
National Garden Bureau California Vegetable Summer Trials

May 26, 2016

California Summer Vegetable Trials In August Will Cover…

The National Garden Bureau is once again organizing summer vegetables trials this August in California, giving attendees the opportunity to visit with several breeding companies.

Read More
Eason 2017 Perennials Guide

May 25, 2016

Eason Horticultural Resources Releases New Perennials G…

The two guides are available in digital and print versions and offer information from several breeders.

Read More
Echinacea ‘Butterfly Rainbow Marcella’

May 25, 2016

15 New Perennials For Bees, Butterflies, And Other Poll…

These 15 new perennials, available for retail in 2016 and 2017, will produce colorful flowers and foliage year after year, providing habitat and food for bees, butterflies, birds, moths, and other pollinators.

Read More
P.Allen Smith Cut Flowers

May 25, 2016

Sakata Seed America And P. Allen Smith Extend Partnersh…

Sakata is taking its partnership with plantsman P. Allen Smith a step further to create the P. Allen Smith Home Grown Cut Flowers Collection, a selection of premium cut flower seed hand-picked by Smith and bred exclusively by Sakata.

Read More
[gravityform id="35" title="false" description="false"]