Top Picks From Raker’s Trial Garden

Top Picks From Raker's Trial Garden

Trial Director

Greg Michalak

Contact Information

10371 Rainey Rd.
Litchfield, MI  49252

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 an overwintering trial.

Breeders’ new varieties were shown in containers and hanging baskets, as well as in sponsor beds. This trial contains All-America Selections trial and display beds. There is also a demonstration area for living roofs and a living wall. Plants native to the Great Lakes region are highlighted in a landscaped bed, as well as a rain garden. This is through Great Lakes Native Plants.

The complete Hort Couture product line is also represented.

Variety Favorites

The top five visitor favorites this year were:

1. Celosia ‘Kelso Purple’ (Beekenkamp)
2. Petunia ‘Ray Purple Vein’ (Danziger)
3. Mimulus aurantiacus ‘Buttercup’ (GroLink)
4. Kwik Kombos Fire and Ice (Syngenta Flowers)
5.Lantana ‘Samantha’ (Hort Couture)

The top 10 performing varieties throughout the summer for each of the major areas, were:

1. Angelonia (Angelonia angustifolia) AngelMist series from Ball Floraplant
2. Bracteantha (Bracteantha bracteata) ‘Strawburst Yellow’ from Syngenta Flowers
3. Begonia (Begonia elatior) ‘Solenia Salmon Coral’ from Ernst Benary of America
4. Celosia (Celosia plumosa) Smart Look series from Benary
5. Cleome (Cleome hybrid) ‘Senorita Rosalita’ from Proven Winners
6. Coreopsis ‘Coloropsis Salsa’ from Sunny Border Nurseries
7. Dahlia (Dahlia x. variabilis) Mystic series from PlantHaven
8. Lantana hanging baskets (Lantana camara) Bandana series from Syngenta
9. Mixed combo liner hanging baskets: Trixi 2.0 series from Selecta First Class
10. New varieties: Mimulus (Mimulus aurantiacus) ‘Buttercup’ from GroLink

Pest/Disease Outbreaks

Japanese beetles are always a problem and the humidity caused some powdery mildew problems.

The trials open the day after OFA and close the Friday before Labor Day. All trial data is available at

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