August 6, 2008

Best Use Of Color

The flower beds Delilah Onofrey and her family planted on Hilliard Boulevard won “Best Use of Color” in the seventh annual Westlake In Bloom competition. Pictured (from the left) are her sons Devlin, Arden and Tristan, who all helped plant the beds this spring. The varieties included: petunia ‘Easy Wave Blue,’ gaillardia ‘Arizona Sun,’ Disco marigolds, verbena ‘Aztec Red’ and purple perennial salvia for height. Westlake, Ohio, was one of the first cities to participate in America In Bloom in 2002 and won its population category that year. The city enjoyed the program so much that it has grown its local program seven fold in seven years from 38 to 300 entries, including 224 raised flower beds. The rest of the entries span categories recognizing residential and commercial landscaping efforts in homes, condominiums, businesses, hotels, nursing homes and churches. Local garden centers provided $25 gift certificates to first-place winners. The […]

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July 30, 2008

Open Houses Around The Corner

Breeders, growers and universities in Colorado and New Hampshire will host their annual open houses this week and next. Welby Gardens, Syngenta Flowers, Colorado State University, D.S. Cole Growers and Pleasant View Gardens are among those hosting their open houses in early August. In Colorado, Welby Gardens will host its open house August 2. Trials open in Arvada at 4 p.m., and more than 800 new container planted annual and perennial flowers can be viewed. The Syngenta Flowers open house will take place a couple of days later, from August 4 to 5, in Boulder. Colorado State University will also host its Annual Flower Trial Garden Evaluation Day on August 5. D.S. Cole Growers in Loudon, N.H., will have its open house August 7. Garden vignettes of its young plant products will be on display along with new variety additions, including an expanded selection of coleus, succulents, begonias and a […]

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July 2, 2008

Raker Trial Gardens To Open Soon

The Raker Trial Gardens will officially open to the public July 16 in Litchfield, Mich., where gardens cover more than three acres and include a variety of annuals and perennials used primarily for horticulture comparison trials. This year, C. Raker & Sons has conducted three main trials. The annual comparison trials contain varieties like French marigolds, osteospermum, heuchera and miniature impatiens. The container trials consist of 220 examples of monoculture and mixed culture varieties in 20-inch patio containers, and the hanging basket trials include more than 300 varieties. New attractions to the Raker Trial Gardens are the breeder beds, 16 beds designed by professional landscapers and sponsored by industry companies. The trial gardens are open through August 29 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. For more information, click here.

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July 2, 2008

Trialing In The East Texas Heat

The annual Overton Horticultural Bedding Plant Trials and Field Day in Texas drew about 150 growers, breeders and gardeners this year who viewed more than 500 bedding plant varieties. And because Texas constitutes an increasing market for new bedding plant varieties, seed companies flocked to Overton to test the strength of their varieties. Goldsmith Seeds, for example, enter numerous varieties, including vinca lines resistant to aerial phytophthora. Goldsmith sends trials to about a dozen universities around the country each year, but Don Snow, the company’s technical product manager, prefers these particular trials. “The trial is really important to us,” he says, “because when it performs well here and it performs well in Dallas, then we have the confidence to go to customers down here and say, ‘This will work for you.” Wayne Pianta, a technical product representative at Ball Horticultural Company, agrees. “Everyone comes here, because this is one of […]

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July 2, 2008

Georgia Trials Showcase Innovation

From breakthrough plants to sustainable practices, there was much to see at Dr. Allan Armitage’s trials at the University of Georgia (UGA) June 18, during an industry open house right before the Southeast Greenhouse Conference. Nestled on a terrace surrounded by university buildings, the UGA Horticulture Gardens were planted 25 years ago to assess the performance of annuals and perennials in hot, humid conditions. Data on all plants are provided through the Web site, www.uga.edu/ugatrial. In addition to being a valuable resource for growers, garden center retailers, master gardeners, horticultural distributors and flower breeders from all over the world, the gardens are, first and foremost, a teaching tool. “As a teaching facility, the garden allows students to learn about the myriad of annual and perennial species and to study the different growth habits, tolerances and uses of herbaceous material,” Armitage says. “Students can also learn about those elusive terms called […]

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June 25, 2008

Touring The Gardens At Michigan State

The Michigan State University (MSU) Garden Plant Showcase will take place at the Plant & Soil Sciences Building this year on August 6. University faculty and staff will lead presentations on new plant material, how to regulate plant height of floriculture crops using plant growth retardants and how to recognize and treat common greenhouse diseases. Advanced registration for the showcase is encouraged and accepted by July 28 for $35. Registration includes lunch, a parking pass and a copy of the annual trial book, which is also available for purchase at the university’s visitor center. MSU has seven acres of floral displays in the Horticulture Gardens, and it trials about 1,000 cultivars of annuals and herbaceous perennials growing there each year. For more information on this year’s showcase, click here.

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June 20, 2008

The Kew Gardens Of The North

I am writing this column from Ontario, Canada, where I have taken a desk at the Niagara School of Horticulture (www.schoolofhorticulture.com) in Niagara Falls. I wanted to see a different perspective of horticulture education and so I cleverly talked the superintendent, Liz Klose, into inviting me for a sabbatical at the school during the summer of 2007. Established in 1936, the program was originally known as The Training School for Apprentice Gardeners, based on the long-standing gardener apprenticeship offered at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, England. The name was changed to Niagara Parks Commission School of Horticulture in 1959. The three-year program is intense and difficult to get into. Applicants are filtered based on academic criteria, written evaluations and live interviews. After the dust has settled, only 12 to 14 students are selected each year. However, the training these students receive is unique compared to the two- and four-year […]

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June 19, 2008

Best In Show

If a picture is worth a thousand words, this page is a visual dissertation. Here are the varieties that ranked “Best In Show” in university trials at Colorado State University, University of Georgia, The Ohio State University, Oklahoma State University and Pennsylvania State University. At Pennsylvania State University’s trials, there was a tie for Best In Show between Ball FloraPlant’s new angelonia varieties, ‘AngelMist Spreading Pink’ (pictured above) and ‘AngelMist Spreading White’ (pictured below). University of Georgia’s trials declared osteospermum ‘Crescendo Primrose’ from Paul Ecke Ranch Best In Show. At Oklahoma State University, lobelia ‘Hot Blue’ from Cohen Nursery, part of the Agrexco cooperative, was Best In Show. The Ohio State University Extension in Springfield named Proven Winners’ ‘Supertunia Vista Bubblegum’ Best In Show. Proven Winners’ cleome ‘Spirit Apple Blossom’ was Best In Show at Colorado State University trials.

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June 18, 2008

Trial By Fair

To get a pulse on consumer trends, growers read trade and consumer magazines, keep an eye on the do-it-yourself television shows and look at the latest color forecasts and displays at Target. Doug Hart of Hart’s Nursery, a wholesale grower in Jefferson, Ore., thought of a novel way to gauge customers’ likes and dislikes: He decided to ask them directly. Hart’s Nursery has been involved with the Oregon State Fair for eight years as the only nursery supplier in the event’s Garden District. The fair receives about 400,000 visitors over a 12-day period each August, and statistics show that half of them visit Hart’s displays at the Garden District. Hart has the chance to ask 200,000 people about their gardening tastes, as well as expose them to a world of gardening possibilities. Over the course of Hart’s involvement, the Garden District has gone from being ranked 5th behind traditional State Fair […]

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June 18, 2008

Trialed & True

Tested nationally and proven locally is more than a slogan at All-America Selections (AAS). Before an AAS Winner is introduced, it is tested at independent test sites throughout the United States and Canada. These test sites are called AAS Trial Grounds. A trial ground is a test site that conducts side-by-side comparison trials. Each trial ground has at least one official AAS judge, who supervises the trial and evaluates entries for AAS at no charge. Typically, the judge is a horticultural professional and the site is part of a seed company’s trial grounds, university or other horticultural institution. All judges and trial sites are approved by the AAS board with the objective of having well-managed sites in different parts of North America. Judges are responsible for conducting the trial of entries and the closest comparisons on the market. They evaluate entries looking for desirable qualities such as novel flower forms, […]

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June 18, 2008

Growing Overseas

An aging population, water safety and smaller living spaces are some of the forces driving floriculture in Europe, as well as the United States. The National Floriculture Forum’s trip to Holland and Germany in January looked at how growers, retailers and educators are grappling with these and other industry trends. The trip rounded up with a few days at the IPM Essen show. The National Floriculture Forum brings together academia and industry to discuss floriculture issues and research. In Holland, the group visited seven growers, who grow a variety of crops, from bulbs to orchids to ferns. Grower highlights included Wesselman Flowers, which grows bulbous crops hydroponically. Producing tulips, lilies and brodiea for grocery chains, Wesselman sells 90 percent of its product between January and April. Its 20 million tulips per year are grown quicker and cleaner in water instead of media. With impressive packaging automation, pot plant producer Humako Plant […]

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June 17, 2008

Be Our Guests!

This was the ninth year we brought growers with us to the California Pack Trials through our California Dreamin’ contest sponsored by flower breeders Sakata Seed America and Suntory Corp. To date, about 35 growers have gone on this trip. Winners are selected during the treasure chest drawing at the Southeast Greenhouse Conference and Trade Show in Greenville, S.C. Both pairs of winners were grower-retailers from North Carolina. One pair, Sharon and Gurnie Chriscoe, own Possum Run Garden Center in Robbins. The other, Ginger Johnson and Lisa Bloodworth, manage retail and production, respectively, at Wildwood Nursery & Garden Center in Henrico. Johnson’s brother, Mike Diakont won the trip, but was not able to attend. This was the first time Dr. Paul Thomas of the University of Georgia tagged along with us. He brought the idea of this contest to us to add some excitement to the Southeast Greenhouse Conference in […]

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