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...
Selecta Sponsor bed at Raker trial gardens

January 18, 2017

2016 C. Raker & Sons Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 field trials results for C. Raker & Sons in Litchfield, MI.

Read More
Joe Cimino, Sakata Seed America

January 17, 2017

Sakata Seed Names New Senior Sales Manager for Ornamentals

Joe Cimino comes to Sakata with past experience at Sun Gro and Florexpo.

Read More
JinPin Flower Seedling Company partners

January 17, 2017

Ernst Benary Partners With Chinese Young Plant Grower on New Venture

The partnership creates a new company called Jinpin Flower Seedling Company, which will focus on providing young plants to the rapidly growing Chinese bedding plant market.

Read More
Latest Stories
Selecta Sponsor bed at Raker trial gardens

January 18, 2017

2016 C. Raker & Sons Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 field trials results for C. Raker & Sons in Litchfield, MI.

Read More
Joe Cimino, Sakata Seed America

January 17, 2017

Sakata Seed Names New Senior Sales Manager for Ornament…

Joe Cimino comes to Sakata with past experience at Sun Gro and Florexpo.

Read More
JinPin Flower Seedling Company partners

January 17, 2017

Ernst Benary Partners With Chinese Young Plant Grower o…

The partnership creates a new company called Jinpin Flower Seedling Company, which will focus on providing young plants to the rapidly growing Chinese bedding plant market.

Read More
Dipladenia Sundenia

January 11, 2017

New Tropical and Foliage Plants That Offer Hidden Benef…

Tropical and foliage plants can offer extra paybacks to your customers in terms of health-promoting benefits such as filtering the air, reducing stress, and absorbing noise. Consider these new varieties, hitting the retail market in 2017, for your product mix.

Read More
craspedia-golf-beauty-danziger-feature

January 9, 2017

Growing Tips for Craspedia ‘Golf Beauty’

Laura Robles of Mast Young Plants offers advice on ‘Golf Beauty,’ a novelty plant with can’t-miss yellow flower heads and silver foliage that blooms throughout the summer.

Read More
Bride with wedding orchids.

January 7, 2017

How to Stand Out in the Orchid Market

With the popularity of the Phalaenopsis orchid growing and its saturation in the market, orchid growers are hunting for new ways to stand out from their competitors.

Read More
California Coast

January 3, 2017

Expect Big Changes for California Spring Trials 2017

California Spring Trials 2017 will be here before you know it. Find out what you can look forward to and get a head start on planning and registering for your trip.

Read More
westerlay-orchids-feature

January 1, 2017

How Westerlay Orchids Solved Its Bacteria Problem

Water-borne bacteria was causing havoc with Westerlay Orchids’ production, so the company took preventative action to ensure the health of its plants.

Read More
nepeta-purple-wave-with-roses

December 30, 2016

Allan Armitage: Plants That Can Bring Success in the Ne…

Are you wondering which plants to grow? Here are some perennials, annuals, and herbs that are gaining popularity.

Read More
Honeybelle combo

December 27, 2016

19 New Combos for Containers Big and Small

Check out 19 combos and mixes new for the retail marketplace in 2017 that offer something for every container type.

Read More
sun-parasol-original-crimson-web

December 20, 2016

Suntory Launches Unrooted Cuttings Program for Sun Para…

While the domestically produced rooting program for the Sun Parasol will continue, growers who would like to purchase unrooted cuttings will have the opportunity for the Sun Parasol Original varieties and Garden Crimson.

Read More
santos flare

December 20, 2016

Ball Horticultural Expands Potted Plant Offerings With …

Ex-Plant, which specializes in potted plants, will become a part of Ball’s PanAmerican Seed division.

Read More

December 16, 2016

Please Take Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 Poinsettia S…

Are plant sales up or down compared to last year? How did Black Friday set the tone for this season? What varieties and sizes were your best sellers? Did you try anything new this year to appeal to younger consumer demographics? We tackle all of these questions and more to help you understand the trends in Greenhouse Grower's 2016 Poinsettia Survey.

Read More

December 13, 2016

Dümmen Orange Shares Trends And Season-Extending Tips A…

As a purveyor of a wide collection of poinsettia and potted plant genetics, Dümmen Orange offered attendees a look at current trends – and a glimpse into the future – at its annual event in Columbus, OH.

Read More
Lollipop Flaming Hot Melon combo

December 13, 2016

21 New Combos For Spring To Fall Color In 2017

With the flood of new varieties and flower colors coming on the market, there is no end to the combinations and mixes available for hanging baskets and containers.

Read More
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