On The Road With Uncle Al

On The Road With Uncle Al

One of the many activities I have enjoyed is meeting some of the people involved in the Ontario greenhouse industry. In the Niagara region of Ontario, there are dozens of greenhouses supporting the landscape and retail markets. Historically, these landscapers and retailers have had a number of trial sites to visit, but recently, the Canadian Ornamental Plant Foundation (COPF), in cooperation with Greenhouse Grower and Greenhouse Canada, initiated a multi-site field and container trial extravaganza. Nearly all the “popular” breeders were represented in at least one of the trial sites, so growers could see a wide range of annuals, all within a 90-minute drive. The sites included Stokes Seed, JVK, George Sant & Son, Ed Sobkowich, Sawaya Garden Trials, Schenk Farms, Vineland Research Station, University of Guelph, Linville Farms and Jeffries Greenhouse. Although attendance was not overwhelming, everyone involved felt it was a good idea and plans to continue it next year are already in the works. Peggy Walsh Craig, the director of COPF, and Laurie Scullin, a board member of COPF, were pleased it became a reality and believe it will become a highly anticipated tradition.

I was not able to get to all sites, but I was impressed with some of the material I saw. For me, the interesting part is how it compared with the same material at other sites I have visited such as Georgia, Ohio and Vancouver. They were different indeed, but many of those I had admired in one place were also admirable in Niagara, and often even better.

This is a great chance to see all the major new plant groups in a day. The region is glorious, the wine plentiful and the plants excellent. Write Peggy ([email protected]) for information about next year’s event, you will not be sorry.

Here are my top ten–just a sampling of what impressed me from the three sites I visited. Next year, I’ll get to all of them. See you there.

Agastache ‘Orange Acapulco’ (Bodger Botanicals, Kieft Seed). A handsome, upright, strong-stemmed and nicely fragrant plant. The anise plants have come a long way in recent years and as the combination of color and fragrance become more important, this group of plants should fare well. ‘Orange Acapulco’ bears dozens of salmon-orange flowers and is an easy plant to combine with others.

Begonia Solenia series (Ecke/Oglevee). I have been impressed with this series of begonias since I first saw them this spring in our Georgia trials. They were heat tolerant and the best of any large begonia I have seen. In Niagara, they were bursting from their pots and equally impressive. I think the reds are the best, but other colors also catch the eye.

Calibrachoa ‘Million Bells Crackling Fire’ (Suntory). As many new calibrachoas as come out each year, it is hard to be impressed with yet another. However, the striking color of ‘Crackling Fire’ stopped me long enough to put it on my top 10 list. It is still a calibrachoa, so be aware of drainage and pH requirements.

Celosia ‘China Town’ (Stokes Seed). While unusual annuals are dominating the airways, some fine breeding continues in the bedding side. This feather celosia stood out from others with the dark scarlet flowers and the deep green foliage.

Fuchsia Wind Chimes series (Bodger Botanicals, Kieft Seed). Fuchsias are the province of cool nights and warm days, and I have been getting my daily allowance of fuchsia fix here in Niagara. However, I have never seen such compact, floriferous fuchsias as the Wind Chimes. I can’t say I even like them, but boy they make you look twice and are impressive in a container.

Ipomoea ‘Sweet Caroline Red,’ ‘Bewitched’ (Bodger Botanicals, North Carolina State University). ‘Margarita’ sweet potato should be named the All North American, no, perhaps the All World annual of the last 10 years. It is everywhere, and its ability to combine with almost anything doubles its beauty and usefulness. However, the folks at Bodger Botanicals are no fools; they jumped on the new sweet potatoes and have been showing them off for a number of years. I like them all, but ‘Sweet Caroline Red’ and ‘Sweet Caroline Bewitched’ really looked good in Niagara as well as in the rest of the sites I have seen them. The only complaint I have is the confusion of the series. I see Sweet Caroline series and also SweetHeart series. I understand the difference in leaf shape, but if you look closely, leaf shape can be quite varied on the same plant. There are not enough sweet potatoes to confuse us with two different series. Call them all Sweet Caroline and simplify.

Iresine ‘Blazing Lime’ (Ball FloraPlant). The foliage craze will not be over for a long time yet, and the introduction of ‘Blazing Rose’ a couple of years ago put this genus back in the game. I looked at ‘Blazing Lime’ and was not sure if it was worthy of discussing, but the more I looked, the more I felt it would be a good companion for ‘Blazing Rose’ and an interesting landscape plant as well.

Petunia ‘Potunia Pink’ (Dömmen). I was impressed with the plants at the OFA trade show. As 4- to 6-inch container plants, they really held a nice round shape and were particularly attractive. At the trial in Vineland, Ontario, Wayne Brown showed me a large landscape container with beautiful gentle pink flowers and a wonderful full waistline. Wayne also commented on the ease of growth and lack of photoperiodic sensitivity. I am sold.

Petunia ‘SuperCal Neon Rose’ (Sakata). Some of the best of the petunia/calibrachoa crosses can be found in the SuperCal series. More vigorous than calibrachoa and less sensitive to some of the calibrachoa problems, ‘Neon Rose’ impressed me, and I have not been easily impressed with these hybrids. Definitely worth a try for next year.

Salvia farinacea ‘Fairy Queen’ (Stokes Seed). Just as ‘Margarita’ sweet potato is everywhere, so is ‘Victoria’ salvia. So when another blue salvia emerges, it will always have a tough time competing. ‘Fairy Queen’ should find a place, however, in that blue/white color niche that has evolved recently in designers’ genre. I revisited this cultivar at the Stokes trials many times, commenting on the habit, the color, the uniformity and the stem strength. Is there a market for a bicolor salvia? In this case, I believe the performance may satisfy many doubters.

Leave a Reply

2 comments on “On The Road With Uncle Al

  1. I am trying to find out if I can plant a “scarlet chimes” flower outside in the fall or should I pot it inside until spring. I am in planting area 5, Northern Ohio.

  2. I am trying to find out if I can plant a “scarlet chimes” flower outside in the fall or should I pot it inside until spring. I am in planting area 5, Northern Ohio.

More From Varieties...
Pleasant View Gardens Savor Edibles

July 22, 2016

Pleasant View Gardens Targets Millennials With Savor Edibles

Taking something as ubiquitous as vegetables and herbs and giving it a fresh new look is no easy task, but Pleasant View Gardens took on the challenge with extensive research and creative marketing.

Read More
Dummen New Columbus Office

July 21, 2016

Dümmen Orange Opens New North American Headquarters In Columbus, OH

The new office, which officially opened during Cultivate’16, supports the company’s vision to be integrated into a vibrant and inspiring community, and provides a bright, modern workspace for its approximately 30 local employees.

Read More
Pollen Free Lisianthus

July 20, 2016

Sakata Seed Develops World’s First Pollen-Free Lisianthus

With no stamen to produce pollen, the new Lisianthus varieties have improved flower durability and the benefit of no scattered pollen that can cause staining of flowers and machines.

Read More
Latest Stories
Pleasant View Gardens Savor Edibles

July 22, 2016

Pleasant View Gardens Targets Millennials With Savor Ed…

Taking something as ubiquitous as vegetables and herbs and giving it a fresh new look is no easy task, but Pleasant View Gardens took on the challenge with extensive research and creative marketing.

Read More
Dummen New Columbus Office

July 21, 2016

Dümmen Orange Opens New North American Headquarters In …

The new office, which officially opened during Cultivate’16, supports the company’s vision to be integrated into a vibrant and inspiring community, and provides a bright, modern workspace for its approximately 30 local employees.

Read More
Pollen Free Lisianthus

July 20, 2016

Sakata Seed Develops World’s First Pollen-Free Lisianth…

With no stamen to produce pollen, the new Lisianthus varieties have improved flower durability and the benefit of no scattered pollen that can cause staining of flowers and machines.

Read More

July 19, 2016

17 New Vegetable Intros For Greenhouse Production

New varieties of edibles introduced at 2016 California Spring Trials offer something for every type of gardener, from the beginning do-it-yourselfer to the hardcore, heirloom-only type. Check out some of the new varieties we saw at Spring Trials this year that will be available for retail in 2017.

Read More
One Earth Edibles From Peace Tree Farm

July 16, 2016

How To Capture Your Share Of The Edibles Market

At Peace Tree Farm, One Earth Edibles represent healthy living on a healthy planet.

Read More
Terra Nova Nurseries Catalog

July 15, 2016

New Product Catalog From Terra Nova Nurseries Designed …

The new catalog, which made its debut at Cultivate’16, offers easy access to organized genera grouped alphabetically, and also by size, color, habit, top sellers, photography, newest varieties, and USDA horticultural zones.

Read More
Pleasant View Open House

July 8, 2016

Pleasant View Gardens And D.S. Cole Growers Hosting Ope…

The 20th annual event will feature new introductions from Proven Winners, as well as annuals, combos, and Pleasant View’s new Savor Edibles and Fragrants line.

Read More
NatureSweet

July 5, 2016

NatureSweet And Ganfer Partner On Tomato Production

The partnership will add more than 250 acres of NatureSweet greenhouse tomato production over the next three years.

Read More
SunPatiens Sakata Medal of Excellence Feature

June 29, 2016

SunPatiens Earns The 2016 Medal Of Excellence In Market…

With its reputation for excellent garden performance from spring to frost, and as a problem-solver for Impatiens Downy Mildew, SunPatiens has become a “hero plant” that helps gardeners succeed.

Read More
Kelly Norris - feature

June 28, 2016

Kelly Norris: Three Variety Trends That Caught My Eye T…

My reflections on promising new plants, the realities of market penetration, and adding value along the supply chain.

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