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...
Coleus Fancy Feathers Pink (Terra Nova Nurseries)

May 23, 2016

Take A Sneak Peek at Terra Nova Nurseries’ New Coleus Fancy Feather Series

A brand-new collection of Terra Nova Nurseries coleus varieties called the Fancy Feathers Series is now available to growers for online orders. The series produces narrow, feather-like leaves and offers a mounded habit.

Read More
Rotary Botanical Gardens, Wisconsin

May 16, 2016

All-America Selections Summer Summit In Madison, WI, Will Offer Display Garden Tours And Much More

Registration is now open for the 2016 Summer Summit, which takes place in August and features a focus on the locally grown movement.

Read More

May 10, 2016

13 New Native Plants And Nativars For Going Green [Slideshow]

Native plants are becoming a bigger part of living green, as consumers become more aware of the role regional native plants play in promoting biodiversity in the garden, in urban landscapes, and in habitat restoration. Here are 13 new native plants breeders are offering to consider for your product mix.

Read More
Latest Stories
Coleus Fancy Feathers Pink (Terra Nova Nurseries)

May 23, 2016

Take A Sneak Peek at Terra Nova Nurseries’ New Coleus F…

A brand-new collection of Terra Nova Nurseries coleus varieties called the Fancy Feathers Series is now available to growers for online orders. The series produces narrow, feather-like leaves and offers a mounded habit.

Read More
Rotary Botanical Gardens, Wisconsin

May 16, 2016

All-America Selections Summer Summit In Madison, WI, Wi…

Registration is now open for the 2016 Summer Summit, which takes place in August and features a focus on the locally grown movement.

Read More

May 10, 2016

13 New Native Plants And Nativars For Going Green [Slid…

Native plants are becoming a bigger part of living green, as consumers become more aware of the role regional native plants play in promoting biodiversity in the garden, in urban landscapes, and in habitat restoration. Here are 13 new native plants breeders are offering to consider for your product mix.

Read More
Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Ginger Love’ (Aris Greenleaf Plants)

May 10, 2016

12 New Ornamental Grasses For Low Maintenance Garden Ap…

Nothing says low maintenance like ornamental grasses. They add texture, movement, and all-season color to the garden. Check out 12 new ornamental grasses and grass-like varieties for growing in your greenhouse or the garden.

Read More
Blueberry ‘BrazelBerries Perpetua’ (Fall Creek Farm & Nursery)

May 9, 2016

Why Star Roses And Plants Is Buying The BrazelBerries P…

The purchase includes the brand, variety portfolio, and grower network, and allows Star Roses to capitalize on increased berry consumption among consumers.

Read More
Wave Petunias Team

May 3, 2016

Hot Pink Wave-Rave Van Making Its Way To The Big Apple …

Imagine driving down the road, minding your own business, when you’re passed by two smiling, waving, happy women driving a hot-pink van that’s adorned with petunia and pansy flowers. That’s not something you see every day, but motorists in the Midwest and Northeast may catch a glimpse of the Wave-Rave van this week as Ball Horticultural Co.’s Claire Watson, Product Marketing Manager, and Katie Rotella, Marketing Communications Manager, make their way to a media tour and plant giveaway in New York City. Watson and Rotella visited Cleveland’s WOIO Channel 19 news on Tuesday morning to tell consumers about Wave Petunias and Wave Pansies, and remind them to visit their local garden centers to purchase gifts for Mother’s Day this weekend. Check out this clip on Periscope. After the morning news, the ladies stopped by to visit the Greenhouse Grower staff at Meister Media Worldwide in Willoughby, OH. Next stop: Chelsea Garden Center in Brooklyn, NY, where […]

Read More
National Garden Bureau CAST 2016 Bloggers

May 3, 2016

5 Things Gardens Bloggers And Writers Learned At Califo…

For the second year in a row, the National Garden Bureau hosted five popular garden bloggers and writers on a trip to California Spring Trials. Here’s what each of them had to say about their experience.

Read More
Chick Charms

April 29, 2016

Kelly Norris: Why The Plant Collector Market Is Set To …

In his latest column for Greenhouse Grower magazine, Kelly Norris says there are more plant collectors out there than we think, which opens the way for the gift plant market to explode.

Read More
Pennisetum Fireworks

April 28, 2016

Why Ornamental Grasses Are Great For People In Condos A…

Allan Armitage says breeders need to do a better job of making growers, brokers, and garden centers aware of better ornamental grass cultivars for the increasingly shrinking garden space.

Read More
Andropogon gerardii Blackhawks (Intrinsic Perennial Gardens)

April 27, 2016

Know Your Market When Choosing Ornamental Grasses

Growers have no shortage of choices in the ornamental grass market. Narrowing down the selection comes down to finding the right plant for the right purpose.

Read More
Bee on Bidens

April 25, 2016

Breeders Go The Distance To Bring New Plant Varieties T…

Breeders are meeting the demand for new varieties that perform and sell well by extending trialing to engage the grower community, using advanced technology, and encouraging international collaboration.

Read More
Dr Allan Armitage

April 20, 2016

Growers And Breeders Are Always Looking For A Better To…

While edibles become more diverse, there's one goal that hard-core gardeners and urban foodscapers share.

Read More
Syngenta Pentas

April 20, 2016

Syngenta Flowers Opens Its Perennial Genetics To The Ma…

California Spring Trials 2016 visitors to Syngenta Flowers found the breeder company and its employees happy and excited for the future, in the wake of the announcement of its acquisition by ChemChina. Now Syngenta Flowers is ready to move forward with its breeding efforts in geraniums, pentas, and other crops, and it is opening its perennials offerings to the whole supply chain for a better chance to get those plants to retail.     Syngenta Wants To Revolutionize Geranium Breeding The big news in this year’s trial, says Karl Trellinger, Technical Services Representative at Syngenta, is the change in Syngenta’s breeding efforts in geraniums and pentas. The Calliope geranium series, long considered a premium line in the market, is getting a makeover. Growers have told the breeder that they love the colors available in the Calliope series, but the plants are just too vigorous for smaller containers and combinations. As […]

Read More
Petunia Vista Bubblegum (Proven Winners)

April 20, 2016

Proven Winners Funds Gardening “It Couple,” Names Plant…

Since 1992, Proven Winners has been changing the gardening game, and it’s not stopping now. With new plants, improved series, and interesting retail customers, the brand aims to make planning easier for growers, and make gardening easier and more fun for consumers. At its new 2016 California Spring Trials location at Kirigin Cellars in Gilroy, Proven Winners had the space and a beautiful setting to lay all of its offerings out, from new and improved varieties in annuals, perennials, and shrubs, to marketing and retail programs. Check out the slideshow below for highlights.   Proven Winners Is Flexing Its Marketing Muscle One of the ways Proven Winners is working toward better use of its products and gardening in general, is by supporting the gardening authorities that gardeners of all ages trust on social media. Director of Marketing Marshall Dirks says while searching for influential gardeners, he came across a young […]

Read More
Scaevola 'Purple Haze' (Danziger 2016)

April 19, 2016

Allan Armitage Picks His Favorites From Proven Winners,…

From “crazy” petunias to container pentas, there was plenty that caught Allan’s eye during the final day of 2016 California Spring Trials.

Read More
CallaFornia Red

April 19, 2016

Golden State Bulb Company Shows Off New Concepts In Cal…

There’s no question that Golden State Bulb Company’s specialty is in breeding virtually any color of Calla Lily, available in about any habit — cut flower, bouquet pot, upright pot type — the list goes on. But now, the bulb specialist is focusing on making calla lilies more accessible to the masses, for use in combination planters and the landscape, with calla six-packs. Calla breeder Peter Beckman showed us the shrunken-down version of these beauties, and they’re certainly perfect for patio pots, planting along paths or at the front of the garden, or en masse for an elegant statement. This presentation makes it easy for consumers to pick up and use callas, without the intimidation they might feel from a bulb crop, says Dr. Allan Armitage.   They’re also versatile for growers to plant in early to mid-February to add to finished containers in the spring, or to sell in […]

Read More
Disney Trial Garden

April 17, 2016

Mark Your Calendars For Florida Flower Trials In May

The two-day event, which takes place in Orlando, is held in conjunction with the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival and offers educational seminars, tours, and open houses.

Read More
Dianthus Paint the Town Fuchsia_CJW14 (2)

April 16, 2016

Proven Winners Focuses On A Better Consumer Garden Expe…

Excellent, long-lasting performance, and easy maintenance are at the core of Proven Winners’ introductions.

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