March 26, 2012

Allan Armitage’s Spring Trials Day 2 Highlights

Good evening to everyone from rainy California. Day two is complete and I am still feeling like a kid in a candy store. It is so much fun! Without a doubt, the best part of the California Spring Trials continues to be seeing old friends, meeting colleagues and soaking in the enthusiasm at each stop. Soaking aside, lots of things caught my eye today. Fides Oro Fides Oro must have set a record in its ability to integrate the two firms. The number of breeders represented boggles my mind, especially when I think back that the announcement of the merger was only announced a year ago. Walking through the facility was to discover new genetics at every corner.  Some plants that caught my eye were the extraordinary dahlias, the Dahlinova Hypnotica series in particular, as well as the well-ordered choices in hardy mums (Mystic), from very early to late-flowering cultivars, […]

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March 25, 2012

Spring Trials Highlights From The South

People ask me if going to the California Spring Trials every year has made me ho-hum, made me feel they are less important, or if I have become a little jaded. Absolutely not! Nor are they less exciting for others. The California Spring Trials are a shot in the arm for the growers and brokers who attend each year. To be here is a treat, to be here is to rediscover what is right with our industry. We need to rekindle the passion, and that is what the Spring Trials offer. On the first day of the 2012 Spring Trials, I saw a number of exciting new plants and concepts. We started the day at Proven Winners before visiting with Suntory Flowers, Plug Connection and Benary. Here are my thoughts on what each of these companies had to offer. Proven Winners Proven Winners provided more new plants than I expected. […]

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February 22, 2012

California Spring Trials 2012 Stops

Will you be hitting the California coast this March for California Spring Trials? If so, take a look at the locations you’ll find international breeders and their new introductions. View California Spring Trials 2012 in a larger map NORTH SITES   Syngenta Flowers Contact: Keysha Weintz 2280 Hecker Pass Road Gilroy, CA 95020 888-662-2670 Open March 24-29   Headstart Nursery Includes Danizger ‘Dan’ Flower Farm 4860 Monterey Road Gilroy, CA 95020 Open March 24-29   Danziger ‘Dan’ Flower Farm Contact: Sharon Israel 408-842-3030   Pacific Plug & Liner Includes Cohen, Hishtil, Jaldety, Isaacson Flowers and Schwartz Nursery Contact: April Herring 750 Casserly Road Watsonville, CA 95076 831-768-6330   Speedling Includes ABZ Seeds, Greenex USA, Hem Genetics, Plant Source international, Schoneveld and Thompson & Morgan Contact: Kathy Enders 2640 San Juan Hwy. San Juan Bautista, Calif. 95045 630-391-2832   ABZ Seeds Contact: Adri Gillissen (31) 622-740-196 […]

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January 19, 2012

Danziger Announces 2012 Spring Trials Location

Danziger “Dan” Flower Farm announced that it will once again be part of Spring Trials. This year, the Danziger “Dan” Flower Farm Spring Trials will be displayed together with Headstart Nursery’s display at the nursery’s operation in Gilroy, Calif. The nursery is located at 4860 Monterey Road. Spring Trials events will take place from Saturday, March 24, 2012 through Friday, March 30, 2012. For more information on Danziger’s spring trials or any of Danziger’s products, visit

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January 4, 2012

Standardized Trials Data Coming Soon

Although trial gardens have historically served their regions well, they’ve never worked tremendously well together to show growers which plants work best across the United States and Canada. But the way trial gardens deliver information is about to change. All-America Selections (AAS) and the University of Georgia (UGA) have been working together for several months to create an Internet-based national plant trials database that will serve growers, retailers and others as a repository for data from participating trials throughout North America. “This project has been mulling around in my head for a long time because it is time for more collaboration among the trial grounds and the breeders,” says Allan Armitage, who’s run the Trial Garden at UGA since 1982. “The trial grounds do an excellent job, but for the breeders who support our trials, there needs to be a more complete side-by-side picture of how their plants perform all […]

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December 7, 2011

The Must-Have, Field Trial-Proven Plants

Each year around the United States, hundreds of new plant varieties are tested. We’ve broken down the results of 13 trials at university demonstration gardens, Extension plots and commercial grower operations, to offer you plants that meet the highest performance standards. Midwest Region Michigan State, Best in Show: Pennisetum Graceful Grasses ‘Vertigo’“This Proven Winners entry has performed well in our trials two years in a row now,” says Katie McCarver, annuals trial ground manager in East Lansing. “It creates a very dramatic backdrop to other more colorful annuals. It looks great planted en masse or used as a specimen in a container. It is very vigorous and grows very quickly, reaching 4 feet tall in one season.” C. Raker & Sons, Best in Show: Angelonia angustifolia AngelMist Series“Compact and loaded with flowers, this series spreads well, and fills out containers very nicely,” says Greg Michalak, Raker’s trials manager. Ohio State, […]

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November 29, 2011

5 Top-Notch Perennials

In the steadfast belief that what we do in the Trial Garden at UGA make a difference, here are five Classic City perennial award winners for 2011. These are among the very best perennials in the trial gardens, based on year-round performance and/or eye-clutching beauty. Of the more than 2,000 plants in the garden, being a Classic City Award winner is equivalent to the Oscar and Tony rolled up in one. Achillea ‘Peachy Seduction’ (Blooms of Bressingham). We have been evaluating yarrows for some time and they seem to improve every year. But this one really stood out. One of our students said it reminds them of their grandmother’s antique lace, which we felt was a lovely description of this yarrow. Plants were consistently full of flowers throughout the spring season. A great plant in the garden and one that also works well as a cut flower. Baptisia ‘Prairie Twilight […]

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November 14, 2011

Four Star Recognized For Elaborate Trial Garden

Four Star Greenhouse has received the President’s Plaque, an award given from the Keep Michigan Beautiful (KMB) organization, for its public display gardens at the company’s headquarters in Carleton, Mich. KMB’s awards recognize products that involve environmental cleanup, historical preservation, site beautification or restoration, and environmental education. Four Star’s display gardens include more than 20 landscape beds, a large variety of containers and baskets hanging from an extended pergola, a covered bridge, water features, stone patio gathering areas and walkways, and a new perennial bed to showcase Proven Winners perennials. The garden is planted with thousands of Proven Winners and Proven Selections annuals and grasses, as well as Color Choice shrubs. The gardens are open to the public and industry professionals during the summer months. “We are so proud to receive this award,” says Tom Smith, Four Star president. “We see the gardens as a way of giving back to […]

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October 28, 2011

Top Picks From Raker’s Trial Garden

Trial Director Greg Michalak Contact Information 10371 Rainey Rd. Litchfield, MI  49252 517-542-2316 Trial Description The trials cover almost four acres. Planting outside was completed the first week of June (week 23).The weather was average for June, then significantly higher in July and August. Weather wise, June was seasonal, but July was one of the hottest, most humid months on record. There was virtually no rain. The few times it did rain, it was a short-lived deluge. The trial included: – 16 Raised Sponsor beds–660 raised rows–265 20-inch containers–263 14-inch hanging baskets–Approximately 3000 plant varieties This year, our hanging basket trials included lantana (122 varieties), mixed liner baskets (111 combos) and vinca (28 varieties). The row trials included: tuberous begonias, angelonia, cleome, celosia, dahlia, zinnia, bracteantha and mixed gerbera. The container trials consisted of new varieties, both sun and shade, and 78 container vegetables. Forty-two varieties of coreopsis are in […]

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October 17, 2011

Top 5 Performers At Gateway Technical College’s Trial

Trial Manager Kate Field, horticulture instructor Location Kenosha, Wisc. Planting dates May 20 to June 10 Entries Gateway Technical College has been trialing seed and vegetative annuals for three years. Gateway included about 40 seed and 15 vegetative annual varieties this year. It also added about five perennial species and five woody trials this year. All of Gateway’s trial plants are planted directly in the ground or in above-ground containers. Most of the trials are planted in irrigated beds, but Gateway does have a portion that is hand watered, including the container trials. Perennial trials are planted in both irrigated and non-irrigated beds. Gateway also plant some perennials within 15 inches of sidewalks that receive salt applications for winter ice removal. The perennial trials are ongoing and will evaluate winter hardiness, salt tolerance and garden performance over a three-year period. The soil in the area is heavy clay with high […]

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October 11, 2011

10 Top Performers At Mississippi State

Trial Manager Eugene Blythe, assistant research professor of Horticulture Coastal Research and Extension Center, Mississippi State University Location Poplarville, Miss. Planting Dates February (for petunias) April (for all other spring/summer trials) October (for winter trials that include pansies, violas, ornamental cabbage, kale, etc.) Weather Conditions The climate in Southern Mississippi features mild winters and hot, humid summers. This year, the area had an unusually hot, dry spring, followed by a typically hot summer with normal rainfall. Entries In 2011, Mississippi State had approximately 150 varieties among its trial periods, including seed-grown and vegetative flowers, and a handful of vegetables. Its trials have been gradually expanding every year. Mississippi State also has AAS flower trials and an AAS display garden. Top Varieties Comments submitted by Blythe. Best In Show–ornamental corn ‘Field of Dreams’ (Floranova). “It’s easy to grow, can be sown in pots or directly in the ground. Colorful variegated foliage […]

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October 3, 2011

University of Illinois Arboretum Field Trial Results

Trial Manager C. Diane Anderson, research and education specialist and UI Arboretum grounds supervisor and trial manager Location Urbana, Ill. Planting Dates Planting took place mid-May through June 17 in row and design bed plantings and, where more appropriate, in 14-inch containers. Entries About 1,100 varieties planted. Weather Conditions The area had adequate moisture and average temperatures through mid-June, then extreme day and nighttime heat and drought through mid-September. It was the area’s hottest, driest summer since the mid-1980s. Top Varieties Best in Show (container) 1. Petunia ‘Famous Violet Picotee’ Containers (14 inch) 1. Helichrysum ‘Licorice Splash’ 2. Petunia ‘Sylvana Queen’  Landscape beds 1. Begonia Whopper 2. Lobularia ‘Snow Princess’ 3. Salvia ‘Wendy’s Wish’ 4. Canna ‘Tropicanna Black’ 5. Salvia ‘Sallyfun Blue’ 6. Salvia ‘Sallyfun Bicolor Beauty’ 7. Lantana ‘Bandana Peach’ 8. Solenostemon ‘Henna’  Best Premixes 1. Calibrachoa Mixis Cymbeline 2. Calibrachoa Kwik Kombo Pink Bliss Mix An honorable mention […]

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August 10, 2011

Euro Style Flower Trials

With all the global participation in the California Spring Trials, I had wondered if it would be worthwhile to also attend Europe’s Flower Trials in June. Would I really see anything I hadn’t already seen from many of the same breeders? And for the most part, the ones that don’t participate in the California trials don’t serve U.S. growers. But each year the Flower Trials are gaining momentum and interest. Starting out with just five companies in 2003, the Flower Trials have grown to include 35 companies at 24 locations in Holland and Germany. Holland’s Westland region dominates with 19 companies, then 10 in Aalsmeer and five in Germany. Many U.S. growers attend to get new ideas on crops and presentations and to be the first to bring new genetics to market. While the seed-based companies still have their traditional pack trials in May, the Flower Trials are more for […]

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July 20, 2011

MSU Plant Trial Field Day Is August 9

Growers and retailers are invited to the Michigan State University Plant Trial Field Day to be held on Tuesday, August 9. This is an opportunity to visit the MSU Trial Gardens to learn about and see a wide range of herbaceous ornamentals and specialty crops. You can personally evaluate the garden performance of hundreds of ornamentals, plus many in large containers. In addition, MSU gardens Director Art Cameron, and MSU trials Manager Katie McCarver will present their favorite, top-performing plants this summer. Representatives from many of the major breeding companies, including Ball Horticultural Co., Benary, Danziger, Dummen, Floranova, Paul Ecke Ranch, Plug Connection, Proven Winners, Sakata, and Takii, will also highlight new introductions and proven performers. Early registration ends July 29. Visit the MSU Field Day website, download the program and registration form or register online today.

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July 14, 2011

Meet Lamp’l At Ball Seed Customer Day

During Ball Seed Customer Day, July 29, visitors will tour acres of display and trial gardens, see the new Ball Premier Lab and get insight into today’s home gardener from featured speaker Joe Lamp’l, executive producer and television host of “Growing a Greener World.” Lamp’l is a sought-after sustainable gardening expert and communicator. He is founder of The Joe Gardener company, an organization devoted to eco-friendly gardening and sustainable outdoor living. His current project is as producer and host of “Growing a Greener World,” a series for public television, of which Burpee Home Gardens is an underwriter sponsor. The show brings the message of sustainability to audiences across the country, focusing on the stories of people, places and organizations doing good things for the planet, with an emphasis on gardening. “As one of the country’s most recognized and trusted personalities in gardening and sustainability, we’re happy to welcome Joe as […]

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June 14, 2011

Raker Trial Gardens Opening Soon For Summer

The Raker Trial Gardens, which cover more than four acres in Litchfield, Mich., will be opening July 13. C. Raker & Sons uses the trial gardens to evaluate new varieties in side-by-side comparison trials to research existing varieties and share the data it gathers from horticulture professionals and the gardening public. Trial data is gathered every two weeks beginning early July and is uploaded immediately to the trial garden website. Data collection generally includes height, spread an overall performance rating and images. Learn more about the trial gardens online at

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