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...
all-america-selections-new-website-home-page

December 3, 2016

New Mobile Responsive Website From All-America Selections Offers Improved Navigation

All-America Selections has launched a newly redesigned and revamped mobile-responsive website that includes a more attractive design, enhanced search tools, and easier and simpler navigation.

Read More
Sea Breeze Catharanthus combo

December 2, 2016

Four Mixed Container Trends To Watch

Mixed containers are still one of the best-selling SKUs at retail. Pay attention to these four trends that are making their mark on multi-liner mixes and combination containers.

Read More
kelly-norris

December 2, 2016

Kelly Norris: How The “Me Too” Philosophy Affects Plant Breeding

When you’re selling the exact same thing as everyone else, it’s unrealistic to expect customers to buy only from you.

Read More
Latest Stories
all-america-selections-new-website-home-page

December 3, 2016

New Mobile Responsive Website From All-America Selectio…

All-America Selections has launched a newly redesigned and revamped mobile-responsive website that includes a more attractive design, enhanced search tools, and easier and simpler navigation.

Read More
Sea Breeze Catharanthus combo

December 2, 2016

Four Mixed Container Trends To Watch

Mixed containers are still one of the best-selling SKUs at retail. Pay attention to these four trends that are making their mark on multi-liner mixes and combination containers.

Read More
kelly-norris

December 2, 2016

Kelly Norris: How The “Me Too” Philosophy Affects Plant…

When you’re selling the exact same thing as everyone else, it’s unrealistic to expect customers to buy only from you.

Read More

November 29, 2016

How Changes In Plant Patent Law Could Affect Your Varie…

There is an ongoing discussion happening among plant genetics companies about the current laws and ethics of plant breeding, and what the future holds for the improved lawful protection of genetics.

Read More
endless-summer

November 29, 2016

Endless Summer Hydrangeas Will Soon Feature New Identit…

Bailey Nurseries, which first introduced the reblooming hydrangea a decade ago, says the new identity will feature a more contemporary look to appeal to current and future gardeners.

Read More
prince-tut-cyperus-grass-feature

November 28, 2016

Growing Tips For ‘Prince Tut’ Cyperus Grass

'Prince Tut’ from Proven Winners’ Graceful Grasses collection is versatile, working well in all container sizes with its columnar habit and dense canopy and filling out well in the landscape.

Read More
Sea breeze combo

November 26, 2016

Four Mixed Container Trends To Watch

Mixed containers are still one of the best-selling SKUs at retail. Pay attention to these four trends that are making their mark on multi-liner mixes and combination containers.

Read More
Begonia at Oklahoma State University field trials

November 26, 2016

2016 Oklahoma State University Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 field trials results for Oklahoma State University in Oklahoma City.

Read More
Petunia 'Tidal Wave Cherry'

November 25, 2016

2016 North Dakota State University Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 field trials results from North Dakota State University in Fargo, ND.

Read More
Scaevola 'Scala Bicolor Blue'

November 24, 2016

2016 North Carolina State University Field Trials Resul…

Check out the 2016 field trial results at North Carolina State University/J.C. Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh, NC.

Read More
2016 Missouri Botanical Garden Flower Trials

November 23, 2016

2016 Missouri Botanical Garden Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 field trials results for the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, MO.

Read More
Mitchell’s Nursery & Greenhouse first caught the poinsettia bug in 1996, but the operation didn’t begin trialing the plant until 2004

November 21, 2016

Poinsettia Trials Across The Eastern U.S. To Take Place…

Poinsettia growers interested in keeping up with the latest variety and production trends have the chance to attend university open houses in New Hampshire, Louisiana, and Ohio.

Read More
Coleus 'Main Street River Walk'

November 21, 2016

2016 Michigan State University Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 field trials results for Michigan State University in East Lansing, MI.

Read More
Field trials at Lucas Greenhouses

November 20, 2016

2016 Lucas Greenhouses Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 Field Trials results for Lucas Greenhouses in Monroeville, NJ.

Read More
Catharanthus 'Soiree Kawaii Coral'

November 19, 2016

Kansas State University 2016 Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 field trial results for Kansas State University in Lawrence, KS.

Read More
2016 Massachusetts Horticultural Society field trials

November 18, 2016

2016 Massachusetts Horticultural Society Field Trials R…

Check out the 2016 field trials results for the Massachusetts Horticultural Society in Wellesley, MA.

Read More
verbena-endurascape

November 18, 2016

All-America Selections Announces Its 2017 Slate Of Vari…

Brokers, growers, mail order, and seed packet companies can purchase these varieties immediately. Retailers and consumers will find AAS Winners for sale for the 2017 gardening season as supply becomes available throughout the chain of distribution.

Read More
Vinca 'Valiant Lilac'

November 17, 2016

2016 Metrolina Greenhouses Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 field trials results for Metrolina Greenhouses in Huntersville, NC.

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