Best Of Raker’s Trials

Best Of Raker's Trials 

The Raker Trial Garden is located on our greenhouse property in Litchfield in the lower central part of Michigan. The gardens were open after the OFA Short Course in July through the end of August. This year we got a head start with nice, warm weather at the end of May. All plants were planted by the end of the second week in June.

The Raker Trial Gardens cover more than 3 acres and feature more than 2,000 cultivars in various categories.

Comparison Row Trials–We featured more than 600 side-by-side comparison row trials, including zonal geraniums, dianthus, echinaceas, gaillardias, ornamental grasses, ipomea, vegetative lobelias, mints, nemesias, sedums and snapdragons.

Hanging Basket Trials – This year’s trial featured more than 225 calibrachoa cultivars.

New Variety Display–New this year, we previewed more than 250 new varieties for 2011 in 20-inch patio containers and more than 50 new varieties in hanging baskets.

Breeder Sponsor Beds–We offer large, raised beds and in-ground, row comparison beds to flower breeders from around the world. This year we had participation from 24 breeder sponsors: Amerinova, Ball Horticultural Co., Bartels Stek, Benary Seed, Cohen Nursery, Fleurizon, Florensis, Floranova, Grimes Horticulture, Goldsmith Seed, GroLink, Heuger Trading, Hishtil Nursery, Hort Couture, Jelitto Seed, Living Color Fundraiser, Sakata Seeds, Selecta First Class, Syngenta Flowers, Sygenta Horticultural Sales, American Takii, Fides, GGG Grunewald and Kieft Seed.

Weather Conditions–Our weather this summer was very hot. June was warmer than normal and July and early August were extremely warm. With the heat came very humid days and nights. We also experienced fairly regular thunderstorms throughout the season.

Pests/Disease Outbreaks–We battled thrips and aphids in the calibrachoa trial, fought the usual outbreak of Japanese beetles and found a few harlequin bugs in the snapdragons. We also had to do a few spot treatments for powdery mildew.

Attendance – We had great attendance. Our latest tally is just under 1,500 visitors this summer. This number represents an approximate 20 percent increase over the 2009 attendance total.

Top Performers

Here are the top 10 cultivars in alphabetical order selected by visitors and Raker Trial Garden staff members. We offer flags to all visitors so they can mark their favorites:

Acalypha wilkesiana ‘Copperhead’–A very nice acalypha from Hort Couture. Very cool, shiny bronze bicolor foliage. Plants were vigorous with large, flat leaves. A big hit with visitors this year.

Begonia ‘Gryphon’–This new Rex-style begonia from PanAmerican Seed has a unique foliage form and color. Visitors think it is a vegetative variety. ‘Gryphon’ performed equally well in large and small containers and in both full sun and full shade. A favorite among visitors and staff alike.

Coleus ‘Smallwood Driveway’–A snappy coleus from the Hort Couture collection. Plants were upright and full, close to 3 feet tall at maturity. Foliage is a rich combination of bright reds, yellow and rich burgundy. A favorite among our visitors.

Cyperus papyrus sp.–This is a really interesting, tall cyperus variety we grow from seed. Plants matured at more than 4 feet tall. It is similar to ‘King Tut’ and you can get this non-patented cultivar in plug form with no royalty or marketing fees attached.

Echinacea purpurea ‘PowWow Wild Berry’–This is the new PanAmerican introduction from seed. Plants are compact with a very rich rose/pink flower. We all liked the rich rose flower color.

Gaillardia grandiflora Gallo series – This was a very pleasant surprise for us. While there is a little height variation between colors, all of the individual cultivars were extremely uniform in habit, had nice large flowers and were in full flower all summer. These were definitely one of the top picks among both visitors and staff. Based on our observations, we did a late addition of five colors of Gallo gaillardias to our perennial program.

Geranium x hybrid ‘Calliope Dark Red’ – Out of more than 200 geraniums in our trial, ‘Calliope Dark Red’ really stood out. The plants were very full and well branched and covered with intense, dark red flowers. A huge favorite among our visitors this year.

Lobelia erinus ‘Techno Heat Upright Light Blue’–We trialed more than 75 varieties of vegetative lobelia this summer and ‘Techno Heat Upright Light Blue’ was at the top of most of our lists. The plants are very uniform in habit and have been in full color all summer. Very impressive performance, given the weather conditions it was subjected to. A note on the other cultivars in the trial–most all of them did very well–a real tribute to the breeders’ goal of heat tolerance.

Nemesia foetans ‘Confection White and Pink’–Even with all the heat these two cultivars remained very uniform and flowered nicely all summer.

Sedum lineare ‘Sea Urchin’–A very cool sedum with brightly variegated white and green foliage and a very unique, upright habit. Visitors remarked they look like tiny, little Christmas trees. Plants are very uniform in size and shape.

Leave a Reply

More From Variety Trials...
Status of Marijuana US Map May 2015

May 29, 2015

Marijuana Legalization Updates

As of April 2015, 23 states and the District of Columbia (D.C.) currently have laws legalizing marijuana in some capacity. At the federal level, several bills are currently awaiting action. Here is an update on current state and federal marijuana legislation across the U.S.

Read More
cannabis, marijuana plant

May 29, 2015

Making The Decision To Produce Medical Marijuana

Should horticultural growers consider cultivating medical marijuana? That’s up to the individual grower, of course, and certainly a number of growers already have jumped in. We at Meister Media Worldwide, publishers of Greenhouse Grower and American Vegetable Grower, do not necessarily endorse nor oppose the production of medical marijuana. But we do feel it is an option worth exploring. We intend our “Medical Marijuana” series of articles to give you information you need to make your own call. We hope you find it useful, and we do welcome your comments, thoughts and ideas as we continue to cover what we’re fairly certain is only going to be an increasingly viable and growing market for this emerging crop.

Read More
Double Whammy Merchandise Display At CAST2015

May 28, 2015

Grow Inspiration To Grow The Horticulture Industry

We need to work together as the horticulture industry to inspire and instruct consumers with our plant knowledge and marketing expertise.

Read More
Latest Stories
Gazania hybrid 'Amber Ice' (Cultivaris)

April 17, 2015

The 80/20 Theory Approach To Inventory Selection Is Put…

Tim Runte of Calloway Gardens is a member of Greenhouse Grower's Medal Of Excellence For Industry's Choice Panel. Here, he shares how he determines which plants shown at this year's California Spring Trials will make the cut at his retail stores.

Read More
Dummen_SunStandingseries_Salmon Pink1

April 15, 2015

Dümmen Group Updates Confetti, Debuts New Mixes And Con…

At two separate locations, the Dümmen Group presented its new take on several lines of plant genetics from the many companies under its brand umbrella. For the second year at Edna Valley Vineyards in San Luis Obispo, the Dummen Group presented new varieties of Red Fox plants, along with the HGTV HOME Plant Collection. Meanwhile, Dummen Group held its second trial location about 30 minutes up the road, at BarrelHouse Brewery in Paso Robles. Both locations were beautiful settings, but the vineyard provided especially lovely panoramic views through the tasting room window.

Read More
CAST15_Suntory_Soiree1

April 15, 2015

McHutchison’s Vaughn Fletcher Reviews New Offerin…

Vaughn Fletcher with McHutchison Horticultural Distributors is part of Greenhouse Grower's Medal Of Excellence For Industry's Choice Panel. Fletcher recounted some of the standout varieties he saw while visiting Suntory Flowers and Westhoff during California Spring Trials.

Read More
PAC Elsner_Pelargonium 'Bermuda Pink'

April 15, 2015

Kientzler Makes First Independent Display At Spring Tri…

The Spring Trials exhibit at Windmill Nursery in Buellton is a fairly new location as of 2014, and it continues to evolve, with a number of new suppliers presenting their wares. Kientzler, Terra Nova Nurseries and PAC-Elsner presented new varieties while McConkey, Pelemix and Dramm promoted their products.

Read More
Hort Couture_Asclepias Monarch's Promise

April 15, 2015

Hort Couture Boosts Butterflies With ‘MonarchR…

The new milkweed 'Monarch's Promise' aims to improve butterflies' forage options, and it's already working. Plus, chck out the action from GroLink's 11 displaying companies.

Read More
Costa Farms' Season Premier 2015

February 4, 2015

Costa Farms’ 2015 Season Premier Reveals Newest V…

The annual Season Premier at Costa Farms in Miami, Fla., is the industry's very first peek at new varieties for debut the following year, even before the California Spring Trials, heralded widely as the jumping off point for new varieties. This year's event revealed breeders' best and brightest new varieties for 2016, shown in field trials, landscape trials and containers at Costa Farms tropical trial gardens. Plant breeders presented their new varieties to buyers and members of Lowe’s grower panel. Growers, brokers and other allied industry members, including Home Depot growers and buyers, were also able to peruse the grounds to see how the new varieties fared in the winter trials. Later this season, the hot and humid conditions at Costa’s summer trials will help identify the true performers.

Read More

January 28, 2015

All-America Selections Introduces Additional 2015 Winne…

All-America Selections has announced more 2015 AAS Winners, bringing the grand total of introductions for the 2015 gardening year to 25. The seven winners join the 12 announced last November and six announced last July. This year, AAS has had the most winners in one year since 1939.

Read More

November 24, 2014

Succulents And Miniatures Offer Variety And Easy Growi…

Succulents and miniatures are great starter plants for brown-thumb gardeners. They deliver visual appeal, color and texture without a fuss. Here are some of the newest varieties on the market.

Read More

November 18, 2014

2014 Field Trials Results: Best Of Show Varieties [Slid…

Find out which varieties made Best of Show at the 2014 Field Trials.

Read More

November 14, 2014

University of Florida Poinsettia Trials Will Be Held De…

Poinsettia trials event at the University of Florida will be held on December 9 in Gainesville, Fla.

Read More

November 14, 2014

University Of New Hampshire Hosts 2014 Poinsettia Trial…

The University of New Hampshire will host 2014 Poinsettia Field Trial Open House at its Macfarlane Greenhouses facility on December 4 to 6.

Read More

November 4, 2014

2014 Field Trials Results

Greenhouse Grower asked trial managers to share their top performers this year. See which varieties were true standouts.

Read More

November 4, 2014

2014 Field Trials Results: Welby Gardens (Denver, Colo.…

Check out Greenhouse Grower's 2014 Field Trials Results for Welby Gardens in Denver, Colo.

Read More

November 4, 2014

2014 Field Trials Results: Texas A&M AgriLife Resea…

Check out Greenhouse Grower's 2014 Field Trials results for Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Overton, Texas.

Read More

November 4, 2014

2014 Field Trials Results: Oklahoma State University (S…

Check out Greenhouse Grower's 2014 Field Trials results for Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Okla.

Read More

November 4, 2014

2014 Field Trials Results: Colorado State University (F…

Check out Greenhouse Grower's 2014 Field Trials results for Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo.

Read More

November 4, 2014

2014 Field Trials Results: University of Tennessee Gard…

Check out Greenhouse Grower's 2014 Field Trials results for the University of Tennessee Gardens in Knoxville and Jackson, Tenn.

Read More

November 4, 2014

Varieties Appearing On 2014 Field Trial Top Performer L…

Greenhouse Grower asked trial managers to share their top performers this year. See which varieties appeared on top performer lists at least twice.

Read More