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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June 17, 2008

California Pack Trials 2007

American Takii This was a big year for petunias at American Takii with seven additions to its Opera Supreme spreading petunias and three new Symphony multifloras. Last year, ‘Opera Supreme Pink Morn’ became an All-America Selections 2007 winner. Seven new colors include: Blue, Lilac Ice, Lavender, Coral, Salmon, Purple and White. The three new Symphonies are Chiffon, Lavender Pink and Burgundy Star. Next year, watch for the Soprano petunia, which will grow taller than the low-growing Opera Supremes. Grower Bud Lopez created this year’s spectacular display. The theme was "Music For Your Eyes." Two new colors joined the Nature pansy series: Pink Antique and Carmine Shades with Blotch. New Gem violas include Sapphire and Plum Antique. In cut flowers, the Cannes consolida (larkspur) series offers tall stems, double flowers and more disease tolerance in six colors. Introductions: • Cannes larkspur series, six colors • Cut flower kale ‘Pink Crane’ • […]

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June 17, 2008

Packed With Ideas

Where else can you see a whole world of floriculture in just one week (without leaving the country) but the California Pack Trials? More than 30 flower breeders and propagators rolled out their cutting-edge flower varieties during the ultimate road trip April 14-22. In addition to American companies, many of which are based in California, breeders and producers from as far as Japan, Israel, Germany, England and Holland camp out for a couple of weeks and make a pretty substantial investment in this event. Nearly 2,000 plant seekers make this pilgrimage each year. While the majority are representatives of the broker distribution chain, busloads of growers travel with their big-box buyers. Many plug, liner and finished growers make the journey on their own. And then you have allied trades and media people, like us, too. This year, Greenhouse Grower was represented by Editor Delilah Onofrey, Managing Editor Sara Tambascio and […]

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June 16, 2008

The Niagara Pack Trials: Heading North

Would you really like to see the new varieties at California Pack Trials, but can’t get away from the greenhouse in April? Is California too far to travel? A new solution is the Niagara Pack Trials, a showcase of flower breeders and their new introductions. Retail-ready greenhouse plants that will be ready to ship in spring 2009 will be on display. This, the second year of the event, will take place at trial sites all within a 90-minute drive in the Niagara region of Ontario. There is no charge for growers or retailers to attend the event. This year’s Niagara Pack Trials will take place June 25-26. “Niagara Pack Trials will be held in several greenhouses in a beautiful part of North America, just minutes from upstate New York and down the road from dozens of vineyards, great theater, Niagara Falls and the city of Toronto,” says Laurie Scullin, who […]

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