MSU’s Horticulture Gardens Celebrate 20 Years

msu_gardens_webThis year marks the 20th anniversary of Michigan State University’s (MSU) Horticulture Gardens, which were dedicated in 1993. This is a significant milestone, to be sure, but not when compared to the history of our university.

We are certainly proud of our accomplishments while being conscious of our past. In fact, MSU has a long history of demonstration gardens, going back to its origins in 1855. Photos show that by the late 1850s, there was a working fruit and vegetable garden located in the center of campus. Under the guidance of the faculty, students worked the soil and raised crops while taking classes and writing papers.

I love that teaching combined with hands-on learning opportunities was an early hallmark of the land-grant system and of MSU. In conjunction with our demonstration and teaching gardens and the Student Organic Farm, our teaching faculty and students still carry on the tradition today.

MSU Trial Gardens Help Growers Select Good Performers
The MSU Plant Trials have come a long way in the past few years, as we have rejuvenated a maturing landscape to open it up for our great displays of annuals and perennials. We currently grow and evaluate more than 600 types of annuals, vegetables, herbs, herbaceous perennials and Michigan native plants, and we welcome new additions. Plants are submitted by breeding companies, the All-America Selections Committee, Fleuroselect and Michigan native plant producers.

More than a dozen breeding companies participate in our trials. They pay a fee for trialing, which provides partial funding for Annual Trial Garden Manager Daedre Craig and two summer interns. The trials are also funded in part by the Western Michigan Greenhouse Association, the Detroit Metro Flower Growers Association and by our endowment. Daedre and I walk the trials and rate the plants every other week. We present our data to participating trial companies and to the public on the MSU Horticulture website.

MSU has long been a testing site for All-America Selections and we have a vegetable garden dedicated to trialing the many new entries into this program. In 2012, we hosted the AAS Summer Summit, which was held simultaneously with the Michigan Garden Plant Tour and our Annual Plant Trials Open House.

The Michigan Garden Plant Tour, held in late July and early August, has gained momentum over the past few years. Thousands of visitors come to tour participating gardens, which include the MSU Horticulture Gardens, Four Star Greenhouse, C. Raker & Sons, Pell Greenhouse, Spring Meadow Nursery and Walter’s Gardens.

We host the MSU Plant Trials Open House each year in early August, and we invite you to visit our gardens and listen to a few presentations on the best new plants for Michigan and related topics. Last year, Dr. Mary Hausbeck gave a presentation on downy mildew.

MSU’s Garden Tradition Dates Back More Than 150 Years
The W. J. Beal Botanical Garden, another of our great campus teaching gardens, was initiated in 1873 by Dr. William James Beal. To this day, the Beal Gardens include collections of specimens organized in economic, systematic, landscape and ecological groupings, including weeds and poisonous plants — all instructive but a challenge to maintain. Another of Dr. Beal’s contributions was to bury several bottles of seeds in the earth (in a secret location known to a select few) to determine long-term seed viability. In 2000, when they last unearthed one of the containers, Beal Garden curator Dr. Frank Telewski reported that 120-year-old seeds of Verbascum spp. still germinated.

By the late 1800s, the first dedicated Horticulture Gardens were established on campus and featured test plots for fruits and vegetables. Now, nearly 120 years later, it seems only fitting that an increasing portion of our MSU Plant Trials includes vegetables. New cultivars are being bred for backyard gardeners looking to grow an increasing share of their own fresh food.

In the 1930s, new gardens were designed near the building that housed Horticulture at that time (the old Horticulture Building was dedicated in the 1920s) and included ornamental displays of annuals and perennials. By the 1970s, these gardens were considered to be one of the most popular locations on campus for hosting informal and formal events and numerous weddings.

In the late 1970s, Dr. Lowell Ewart, a horticulture faculty member, took responsibility for a trialing program that included All-America Selections and entries from private breeding companies. By the 1980s, the plant trials were in full swing with thousands of entries. I interviewed for a faculty position here in 1981 and I remember walking the trial gardens with Dr. Will Carlson. The display gardens and the dedicated faculty had a huge impact on my decision to come to MSU in 1982. Shortly after, in 1987, the entire department moved from the “Old Horticulture” building to the newly built Plant and Soil Sciences Building.

Building On The Past To Make Way For The Future
Dr. Carlson took up the torch and began plans for what he marketed as a future “world-class garden.” I vividly remember some of the early meetings.

You have to hand it to Dr. Carlson, as he was not the least bit intimidated when he was told he would have to raise at least $2 million to make it happen. Excluding faculty salaries, the gardens were to be almost exclusively funded by private donations. Dr. Carlson approached Michigan’s floriculture industry, joined forces with our university development professionals and fast-talked anyone who would listen. I give him major credit for raising more than $2 million, used to initiate the design and construction of the gardens and to start the fundraising for long-term endowment.

The gardens (and their fundraising efforts) were further enhanced by Jane Taylor, who envisioned and helped create our now nationally acclaimed Michigan 4-H Children’s Garden, and by Dr. Robert Schutzki, who founded and is curator of the Clarence E. Lewis Landscape Arboretum. The gardens were officially dedicated in 1993 and were featured on “Good Morning America.”

Twenty years later, our 14-acres of MSU Horticulture Gardens are doing better than ever. They include the:

  • Amien and Florence Carter Annual Trial Garden
  • Judith DeLapa Perennial Gardens
  • Frank’s Nursery Rose Garden
  • Michigan 4-H Children’s Garden
  • Clarence E. Lewis Landscape Arboretum
  • Smith Schoolyard Demonstration Garden
  • Master Gardener Idea Garden

willow dragon MSU Hort Gardens_webThe Children’s Garden includes more than 60 theme gardens including the Peter Rabbit Garden and the human sundial garden. The Arboretum features several theme gardens, including Japanese- and English-inspired gardens, a fruit display and the All-America Selections (AAS) Vegetable Demonstration Garden.

Like many gardens on university campuses, our primary goals are education, research and service to our community. We are always on the lookout for new issues and trends. Our new VIP Garden, which stands for Vegetables and Insect Pollinators, is home to a demonstration home-style vegetable garden and a pollinator garden, including Michigan native plants and a native bee hotel.

With the decline and troubles of the honey bee, bee hotels are an important means of promoting habitat to enhance our extensive native bee populations. In Michigan alone, we have more than 400 species of native solitary bees, and none of them sting. Our bee hotel attracts more than 20 species of native bee, and Dr. Rufus Isaacs, in entomology, has a major grant to enhance the use of native bees for pollination of horticultural crops like blueberries and raspberries.

Topics: ,

Leave a Reply

More From Varieties...
More and more people are employing a landscape service, but that doesn’t mean they don’t still garden

September 2, 2015

Under Siege? Not Really, Just Go For A Walk

I have no trouble with people buying chocolates or wine instead of flowers to celebrate anniversaries, birthdays or peoples’ lives. We should all have choices. However, the other night I felt like I was entering the Republican caucus. I was minding my own business by the television set and became more than a little upset. A website called insteadofflowers.com came on the screen. It provided serene music and wholesome images of busy women doing busy things. It turns out that such busy women enjoy a small token of appreciation, but apparently their enjoyment, according to the voice-over, does not include flowers. This website delivers meals to the house, anything from beef brisket to beef bourguignon. It is a fine website with a good idea. But why pick on us? Why not use “insteadofbaloneysandwiches.com” or “insteadofgrilledcheeseandsoup.com,” “insteadofburgerdoodle.com,” or a dozen other things. When did flowers get to be the whipping boy? […]

Read More
Triathlon BA container shot

September 2, 2015

OHP Launches Triathlon BA, Offers Marengo SC In Smaller Size

Triathlon BA biofungicide/bactericide is now available to authorized OHP distributors for shipment to states where product registration has been approved. State registration information is available here. A next generation preventive biological fungicide, bactercide Triathlon BA is labeled for use in both organic and conventional production on a wide variety of fungal and bacterial diseases on ornamentals, fruits, vegetables and herbs and spices. With the active ingredient Bacillus amyloliquefaciens, Triathlon BA provides preventive control of many foliar and soil-borne diseases such as botrytis, powdery mildew, downy mildew, rusts, leaf spots, alternaria, pythium, phytophthora, rhizoctonia, fusarium and bacterial spot. Triathlon BA, an aqueous suspension formulation, prevents establishment of disease-causing fungi and bacteria on the plant tissues. Depending on the target disease, users can foliar-apply or soil drench Triathlon BA. Repeat applications may be made at three- to 28-day intervals. Under environmental conditions that are conducive to disease development, users may apply at three- to […]

Read More

September 2, 2015

Delegation Is Key To A Successful Greenhouse Operation

In a packed room at Cultivate’15, speaker Bernie Erven presented key steps growers need to take to improve their delegation skills, the benefits of delegating and the dangers of not learning how to delegate. This is a skill, he says, that everyone needs to learn. “For all of you who are part of a family business, you are choosing not to do things the easy way,” Erven laughed, as he presented a list of ways to know whether or not you’re an effective delegator. The owner of Erven HR Services, LLC, Erven has been working with and observing family businesses for many years. In his presentation, he said, he didn’t share anything that he hasn’t seen first-hand. You might not be a good delegator if you: Tend to be a perfectionist Work more hours than anyone else Lack time to explain clearly and concisely Are often interrupted Enjoy what you used to […]

Read More
Latest Stories
More and more people are employing a landscape service, but that doesn’t mean they don’t still garden

September 2, 2015

Under Siege? Not Really, Just Go For A Walk

I have no trouble with people buying chocolates or wine instead of flowers to celebrate anniversaries, birthdays or peoples’ lives. We should all have choices. However, the other night I felt like I was entering the Republican caucus. I was minding my own business by the television set and became more than a little upset. A website called insteadofflowers.com came on the screen. It provided serene music and wholesome images of busy women doing busy things. It turns out that such busy women enjoy a small token of appreciation, but apparently their enjoyment, according to the voice-over, does not include flowers. This website delivers meals to the house, anything from beef brisket to beef bourguignon. It is a fine website with a good idea. But why pick on us? Why not use “insteadofbaloneysandwiches.com” or “insteadofgrilledcheeseandsoup.com,” “insteadofburgerdoodle.com,” or a dozen other things. When did flowers get to be the whipping boy? […]

Read More
Feature image The 2015 Perennial Plant Of The Year, Geranium x cantabrigiense ‘Biokovo.’

September 1, 2015

Perennial Plant Association’s 33rd Annual Symposi…

The Perennial Plant Association's 33rd Annual Symposium, held July 27 to August 1 in Baltimore, Md., delved into the rich history of perennial suppliers and landscape architects in the Baltimore area and their influence on the perennial market today and its bright future.

Read More
LuckyLotsAbelia_featured

August 18, 2015

Farwest Show New Varieties Showcase Will Spotlight 2016…

Featuring a spectrum of new market introductions, the 2015 Farwest Show, August 27-29 in Portland, Ore., will display 49 plants in the New Varieties Showcase, a mainstay favorite every year on the show floor. Seventeen companies from all corners of North America, the Netherlands and Canada have submitted material that covers the best and brightest of perennials, shrubs, conifers, shade and flowering trees and edibles being introduced for 2016. This year’s entries will display the prized characteristics that growers and retailers are seeking— new features, improved performance in production environments and landscape, compact sizes, enhanced disease resistance, performance in urban settings and drought tolerance. In particular for garden retail benefit, consumer appeal for this year’s showcase is excellent with choices for spectacular foliage, blooms, seasonal interest and overall wow factor. Check out the slideshow for a sampling of the new varieties. Plants are creatively displayed in retail fashion and well tagged with full descriptions, compliments of showcase […]

Read More
Cayman

August 17, 2015

21 New Blooming Potted Plants For Trouble-Free Greenhou…

Blooming potted plants brighten up almost any occasion. With new colors and an abundance of blooms, these 21 new introductions add a unique, finishing touch to even the most diversified crop mix. Here are 21 new varieties available in 2015 that will hit retail in 2016.

Read More

August 4, 2015

New 2015 California Spring Trial Edibles For The Patio …

If you are looking to capitalize on the foodie trend and spread your risk beyond Spring sales, new vegetables showcased at 2015 California Spring Trials offer plenty of opportunities to focus on unique, flavorful vegetables and edible plants that also hold ornamental value. Here are a few of new varieties Editor Laura Drotleff and Group Editor Carol Miller discovered at Spring Trials that will help diversify your crop mix.

Read More
llan Armitage Syngenta Starcluster

July 30, 2015

Allan Armitage: Let’s Talk About Starflowers. Why Is Pe…

It is good to talk about production techniques, performance results and then to see how our friends garden. Diversity of plant material has always been a strength in American garden centers, and we should never run out of plants to get people excited. However, perhaps people are tired of Petunias or Callas or Geraniums, but we will never run out of options to put in front of them. One plant that is often overlooked is Pentas, a fabulous summer crop for late spring sales. These are heat-tolerant plants, and growing them below 65°F in the greenhouse results in significant delay. Fertility should be at least 150ppm nitrogen, but avoid ammonia in the fertilizer. Plants are best grown at a somewhat higher pH than usual, between 6.4 to 6.8. For best presentation, pinch out the center bud. Side flowers will bloom together, and plants will walk off the shelf. Garden centers […]

Read More
Bunching onion warrior

July 27, 2015

All-America Selections Introduces First AAS Winners For…

All-America Selections announced another group of edible AAS Winners for home gardeners, gourmet gardeners, farm-to-table growers, market growers and anyone interested in a unique, delicious addition to their vegetable assortment. These three winners are the first for the 2016 Garden Season. Additional winners will be announced this fall and winter as the 2015 trials conclude and the breeders meet specified criteria. The first group of AAS Winners for 2016 includes: Bunching Onion ‘Warrior’ (Regional Winner) Mizuna ‘Red Kingdom’ F1 (National Winner) Radish ‘Sweet Baby’ F1 (Regional Winner) All-America Selections has had bulb onions as award winners in the past, but ‘Warrior’ is the first bunching (or green) onion. Similarly, there have been green mustard AAS Winners, but never a red Mizuna (or Japanese Mustard). ‘Sweet Baby’ radish joins nine other radishes that are previous AAS Winners adding a violet colored beauty to an assortment of radishes that range from white […]

Read More
Coleus-Campfire-BallFloraPlant

July 21, 2015

Costa Farms Trial Garden Update: 2015 Late-Season Top-P…

The Costa Farms team announced its late-season top performers in the 2015 Season Premier Trial Garden in Miami, Fla. Its research and development team has been working to grow and evaluate hundreds of varieties and have published their findings here. The plants you’ll find in the link have thrived in Miami’s late-spring conditions. Every spring, the research and development team trials 500 varieties of annuals, perennials and tropical plants from plant breeders around the world. All of the varieties were tested in the 2-acre trial garden. Varieties are assessed for abundance of bloom, crop uniformity and overall performance, which includes factors such as clean foliage, little to no pest damage and the plants’ overall habits and appearances. About 70 varieties scored as top performers during the evaluation period, which lasted from week five to week 19. Transplanting into the trial garden occurred at week 51, and plants were grown in 6-inch pots to finished […]

Read More
Cornell_annual-bed

July 20, 2015

Cornell Floriculture Field Day To Take Place August 11

Cornell’s Floriculture Field Day will be Tuesday August 11 at the Cornell campus in Ithaca, N.Y. An alumni event will be held the evening prior. More information and online registration for both events is available online. Here is some of what will be happening during Cornell’s Floriculture Field Day: 1. New Cornell Alumni and Friends reception. Come to Ithaca, N.Y an evening early for the 2015 alumni and friends event at the Cornell Plantations visitor center. The event, which will be Aug. 10, 5:30-7 p.m., will feature appetizers, New York wine and jazz. It will take place at the Nevin Welcome Center. 2. Armitage and Konjoian kick off the morning program. During the morning program at the Cornell Veterinary School, Allan Armitage, professor emeritus, University of Georgia, will talk about some of his favorite annuals, perennials and veggies for the landscape. Peter Konjoian, of Konjoian’s Floriculture Education Services, will inspire you to […]

Read More
Dragon’s-Breath-Celosia_featured

July 15, 2015

Greenhouse Grower Honors 2015 Medal Of Excellence Breed…

Greenhouse Grower announced its Medal of Excellence winners at the Evening of Excellence, held Monday, July 13 at Cultivate’15  in Columbus, Ohio. The Readers’ Choice Award was presented to Terra Nova Nurseries for Leucanthemum ‘Luna,’ the Industry’s Choice Award went to Celosia ‘Dragon’s Breath’ from Sakata Seed and the Editor’s Choice Award was given to Basil ‘Balsamic Blooms’ from EuroAmerican Propagators Read on to learn more about the varieties that were finalists for the Medal Of Excellence Editor’s Choice, Industry’s Choice and Readers’ Choice Breeding Awards. Thank you to the 2015 sponsors of Greenhouse Grower‘s Medal Of Excellence Awards, Landmark Plastic, Nufarm and Stockosorb. Editor’s Choice Asclepias ‘Monarch Promise’ (Hort Couture) Basil ‘Balsamic Blooms’ (EuroAmerican Propagators) Celosia ‘Dragon’s Breath’ (Sakata Seed) Dianthus Jolt Series (PanAmerican Seed) Salvia Grandstand Series (Green Fuse Botanicals) Scabiosa ‘Kudos Pink’ (Hishtil Nurseries) Industry’s Choice Basil ‘Balsamic Blooms’ (EuroAmerican Propagators) Bidens BeeDance Series (Suntory Flowers) Celosia ‘Dragon’s Breath’ […]

Read More
Pleasant View Gardens Open House

July 8, 2015

This Summer’s Can’t Miss Tours And Events

July and August are packed with events, from greenhouse tours and seminars, to the new Summer Vegetable Trials in California. Check out the list of events for dates and times, as well as information on how to plan your visit. Bailey Nurseries Bailey Nurseries will hold its Minnesota Expo 2015, a jam-packed event showcasing its farm and plants, on July 30, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in St. Paul, Minn. In addition to farm tours, participants can enjoy new varieties, hot picks and merchandising displays, as well as attend various seminars throughout the day. A continental breakfast and lunch will be served during the event. Visit the Bailey Nurseries website for the complete schedule and to register online, or contact Sue Gundersen at sue.gundersen@baileynursery.com or 651-768-3372 for more information. Ball Seed Field Day & Landscape Day Ball Seed’s Field Day & Landscape Day will take place July 31, at 8 a.m. in West […]

Read More

July 8, 2015

The Kientzler Group Is Honored For Industry Achievement

Kientzler is one of the world’s most prolific and innovative breeding powerhouses. It has built on its rich history by providing new and exciting genetics to the floriculture industry, with the creation of the market for New Guinea Impatiens with its Paradise and Pure Beauty series, as well as bringing Scaevola, Bracteantha, Sutera and other plant genetics to the marketplace, introduced in the U.S. through the Proven Winners network. Through its Innovaplant facilities in Costa Rica, Kientzler has also become well-known for establishing high standards for quality and cleanliness, and providing a dependable supply of young plants to growers in the U.S. for more than 20 years. With the company’s new business direction starting this past winter, providing its own genetics directly to the U.S. market, 2015 is a great year to honor Kientzler’s past accomplishments and celebrate its new horizons.     Building On A Legacy Of Greatness Kientzler […]

Read More
Medal of Excellence Award

July 6, 2015

Get To Know The 9 Variety Finalists For Editor’s …

Greenhouse Grower‘s Evening Of Excellence reception is rapidly approaching. Here, you can learn more about the varieties that are finalists for the Medal Of Excellence Editor’s Choice and Industry’s Choice Breeding Awards. Thank you to the 2015 sponsors of Greenhouse Grower‘s Medal Of Excellence Awards, Landmark Plastic, Nufarm and Stockosorb. Editor’s Choice Asclepias ‘Monarch Promise’ (Hort Couture) Basil ‘Balsamic Blooms’ (EuroAmerican Propagators) Celosia ‘Dragon’s Breath’ (Sakata Seed) Dianthus Jolt Series (PanAmerican Seed) Salvia Grandstand Series (Green Fuse Botanicals) Scabiosa ‘Kudos Pink’ (Hishtil Nurseries) Industry’s Choice Basil ‘Balsamic Blooms’ (EuroAmerican Propagators) Bidens BeeDance Series (Suntory Flowers) Celosia ‘Dragon’s Breath’ (Sakata Seed) Dianthus Jolt Series (PanAmerican Seed) Lobelia ‘Starship Deep Rose’ (Kieft Seed) Vinca Valiant Series (PanAmerican Seed)     Join us Monday, July 13 in Ballroom 2 at the Columbus Convention Center to find out which varieties will receive the coveted awards. The reception begins at 5:15 p.m. and the ceremony […]

Read More

June 24, 2015

Perennial Container Combos And New Intros Shine At 2015…

Despite a rainy start to the day, more than 300 perennial enthusiasts showed up at 2015 Darwin Perennials Day to see the latest perennial introductions first-hand and connect with some of the best suppliers in the business.

Read More
2015 Readers' Choice

June 24, 2015

The 2015 Readers’ Choice Finalists Up Close And P…

You’ve narrowed the Readers’ Choice Finalists down to top picks in the Annuals, Perennials and Best of the Rest categories. Now it’s time to pick the overall winner. Here’s a closer look at the three finalists to help you make your choice. Then join us during Cultivate'15 at Greenhouse Grower's prestigious Medal of Excellence reception on Monday, July 13, where we will reveal the winner.

Read More
WavePetunias-GrowIt_contest_featured

June 18, 2015

Wave Petunias Sponsors Photo Contest Through GrowIt! Ga…

The gardening season is heating up and the Wave Petunias Team wants to see the #WildestWave. The popular plant brand has joined forces with the GrowIt! Garden Socially app to host a two week contest in June that encourages Wave Fans to share and rate photos of their favorite Wave Petunias. The grand prize is a $100 gift card to the garden center of the winner’s choosing. “We are excited to work with GrowIt! and see our Wave Petunias tagged in cities from coast to coast,” says Claire Watson, brand manager for Wave. “Seeing gardeners’ creative photography, awarding a winner, and learning what each region likes about Wave Petunias will be extremely useful as we further promote our ‘Wow ’em With Wave’ ad campaign this season.” Gardeners can place an entry into the contest by downloading GrowIt!, filling out a profile, and uploading photos of Wave Petunias. Placing the tag #WildestWave in the photo’s comments section […]

Read More
Kaleidoscope Abelia (Plant Haven International)

June 17, 2015

PlantHaven International Launches National Campaign To …

PlantHaven International has partnered with BlueSkye Creative to initiate a national consumer ad campaign that carries across radio, video, print and social media to increase sales of Abelia Kaleidoscope.

Read More

June 17, 2015

Green Leaf Plants Plans Two Open House Events June 25-2…

Green Leaf Plants will hold two open house events this summer to give the public a chance to view trial gardens, take guided tours and learn about new varieties and programs. Both events will be held at Green Leaf Plant's facility in Lancaster, Pa. The event in July will coincide with Penn State University Extension Trials in nearby Manheim.

Read More