How the Raker-Roberta’s 2019 Variety Trials Featured Diversity

Raker-Roberta’s is located in Litchfield, MI, in the southern part of the state. This grower’s public trials cover 7 acres and include sponsored areas (raised rows, large containers, baskets, landscaped beds), comparisons (raised rows, large containers), and many landscaped areas around the facility. Rows are raised and covered in black plastic with inline irrigation. The large containers and hanging baskets have drip tubes. 

Hi-resolution photos and plant data are collected each week throughout the trial season, on everything in the gardens. This information can be found at http://trialgardens.raker.com . The past four years of photos and data are available on the website. 

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Raker’s big summer event, The Connection, “Great Food, Great Music, Great Friends, and Great Flowers, was a great success. This annual event is held the last Thursday in July. 

The Raker-Roberta Trial Gardens are open from the Wednesday after Cultivate until the end of August. In 2020, the trials will open on July 15. 

Weather Conditions in 2019 

The season started out cold and wet, causing a delay in planting by approximately 10 days. Then it got hot and dry. Overall, the season was typical, with average high temperatures of 78ºF, and lows at 56ºF. Rainfall ended up as average with almost 13 inches throughout the season; however, most of that was in May and June. 

Crop-Specific Trials 

A blind white petunia trial featured 38 varieties from 10 breeders. ‘Color Rush White (Ball Horticultural) was the top vote getter.  

The Begonia trial was a repeat of last year, when deer ate the trial twice, even after repellent. This year, Raker sprayed early enough to deter them. All plants performed very well, and while there was no clear winner, top varieties included: 

  • BIG series (Benary)
  • Whopper series (Ball Seed)
  • Megawatt (PanAmerican Seed)
  • Tophat (Syngenta Flowers)
  • Viking and Viking XL(Sakata Ornamentals) 

Top Performing Annual varieties: 

  • Angelonia Serena Rose (Pan American Seed) 
  • Begonia Vermillion Red (Beekenkamp) 
  • Petunia Wave Carmine Velour (Pan American Seed) 
  • Lantana Hot Blooded Red (Syngenta Flowers) 
  • Pentas Graffi ti 20/20 series (Benary)
  • Cuphea Honeybells (Ball) 

Top Performing Perennial varieties: 

  • Agastache Beelicious (Concept Plants) 
  • Digitalis Arctic Fox Rose (Darwin Perennials)
  • Echinacea Kismet series (Terra Nova Nurseries) 

Visitor Favorites: 

  • Petunia Color Rush White (Ball) 
  • Helianthus Sunbelievable Brown Eyed Girl (Danziger)
  • Salvia Purple & Bloom (Ball)
  • Combo Above & Beyond (Proven Winners)