Mast Young Plants, based in Grand Rapids, Mich., is part of Greenhouse Grower‘s Medal Of Excellence For Industry’s Choice Panel. Team Mast recounted their first day at California Spring Trials, and let us know what caught their attention. The team includes Jim Raterink, Laura Robles and Brian Weesies (pictured, left to right).
We started our trip at California Spring Trials (CAST) with a visit to Benary, where the theme this year was Disco. The trials were set up with retail displays and point of purchase materials on the right side and variety displays and features on the left. The Benary team had a big focus on what appeals to our consumers and how they purchase our product. One highlight showcased outside the entrance to the trials was the Admire viola series, which has a nice habit and stays compact yet still fills in a container or bed area nicely. A couple of other varieties of note were the ‘Non Stop Joy Yellow’ begonia and also the New Star tuberous begonia series in four colors, which is more compact than the older Non Stop series.
We were excited to see a new breeder at CAST this year at the Benary stop, as Volmary was there with some of its genetics on display. A couple of unique varieties Volmary showed were verbena ‘Samira Deep Red Star,’ which has a unique color pattern and very large flowers, and helichrysum ‘Silverball,’ which is a silvery foliage accent plant that is similar to ‘Icicles’ but with a more compact, mounded habit.
Our next stop was Pacific Plug and Liner (PP&L), where there is always a wide selection of not commonly seen products. In addition to PP&L exhibiting, Cohen, Cultivaris, Hishtil, Jaldety and Sunset Western Garden Collection also display their varieties there. One item that caught our attention was the Scents & Flavor Garden Program from Hishtil, which features herbs with unique tastes or smells. Plants in this program included oddities such as the Mushroom Plant, which has high levels of iron and vitamin C in its leaves and tastes like mushrooms. Other examples were a silvery artemesia that smelled like Coca-Cola and a santolina with olive-scented foliage. Another item that intrigued us at this stop was Jaldety’s gaura ‘Gauriella Bicolor.’
The next stop was to the Chaminade Resort and Spa, where Proven Winners literally takes over the hotel landscape by planting all of its product there. Proven Winners introduced a new line of landscape gerberas called ‘Hello’ that were striking and a new Superbells calibrachoa called ‘Holy Moly.’ The marketing and how Proven Winners ties together its collections of annuals, perennials and shrubs is always impressive.
The last stop was Syngenta Flowers, which had a great presentation and really focused on calling out specific items instead of showing everything in its vast catalog. One thing that caught our eye here was the geranium ‘Calliope Crimson Flame,’ which was a box store exclusive last year and is now open to all growers. It is a bicolor addition to the Calliope series with gorgeous dark-red and pink bicolor flowers, and Syngenta had some nice ideas on display of how this plant can be used in combinations. Syngenta continues to put together other nice combos with its vegetative Kwik Kombos and seed combos called SeedSations.