The 2015 Darwin Perennials Day may have kicked off with a heavy dose of rain, but that didn’t faze more than 300 perennial fans who stopped by to pore over the latest introductions from Darwin Perennials and Kieft Seed and chat with top perennial suppliers.
Attendees had plenty of opportunities to ask questions, network and take advantage of educational opportunities and the expertise of Ball Horticultural Co. staff during the day as they visited various information stations located throughout the trial gardens.
Darwin Colombia, Qualitree Propagators and Rancho Espinoza joined the ranks of more than 30 suppliers exhibiting this year, so visitors took advantage of the opportunity to get to know them better. And Paul Pilon of Perennial Solutions Consulting rounded out the day with two informative presentations on overwintering perennials and using plant growth regulators to reduce plant height and improve branching.
If one thing became clear at the end of the day, it’s that compact habits, low maintenance and drought tolerance persist as strong, driving factors in today’s perennial market. And as the perennials with staying power theme of Darwin Perennials Day suggests, breeders remain set on delivering tough, resilient perennials with marketplace longevity.
Standout Introductions From Darwin Perennials 2016 Line-Up
The perennials featured at the Darwin Perennials tent promised flower power, lower production costs and better sell-through at retail thanks to increased disease resistance, less need for inputs and extended bloom times that push the market window.
Here are just a few of the varieties that stood out.
Campanula ‘Iridescent Bells’ is an interspecific hybrid with a long bloom period. It won’t set seed and has no runners, which helps keep its habit manageable and its spread in check. Eggplant-colored flower buds were a striking contrast to white, lavender-tinted blooms.
The Scabiosa Flutter Series has the advantage of high powdery mildew resistance and shorter flower stalks that make for a tighter habit that is well-suited to container production and displays better at retail. Colors include Deep Blue and Rose Pink.
The Lyrical Blues Salvia nemorosa Series boasts more flowers per container and better branching for well filled out containers and a better show at retail. Silvertone is the first bicolor Salvia featuring blue blooms with silver edges. New colors include Blues, Rose, Silvertone and White.
The new ‘Double Scoop Lemon Cream’ adds some additional flower power and a light yellow color to the robust Double Scoop series of hardy Echinacea, while Blanco rounds out the Sombrero Series with a clear white.
Noteworthy Introductions From Kieft Seed
The seed-raised Lavandula stoechas ‘Bandera Purple,’ with its prominent purple flags and abundance of spikes garnered a lot of attention at the Kieft Seed display, as did an experimental variety of Mesa Gaillardia with splashy red blooms dressed with bright-yellow centers ringed in red.
Additional eye-catchers from Kieft Seed included the early-flowering Campanula Rapido Series with its new addition of ‘Rapido White,’ and the Delphinium Guardian Series.
Perennial Container Solutions: Liners Versus 4-Inch Pots
Perennial combination containers are catching on, and several great ideas for combinations that are guaranteed to not only attract consumers, but also move with ease from deck to garden were on display throughout the day.
It is always a treat to see what Joan Mazat, business manager for cut flowers, geraniums & poinsettias for Ball Horticultural Co. and the head of the container solutions committee, comes up with for Darwin Perennial Days. This year was no exception.
At the request of customers who were interested in whether liners or 4-inch pots worked best for perennial combo containers, Mazat set up an experiment to compare the two options. Starting on March 18, she planted the liners of three to four different perennials into 14-inch containers. At the same time, she planted liners with the same three to four plants into 4-inch pots, which were later transferred to 14-inch containers on May 14. All inputs were Lin102s sourced from James Greenhouse and Tagawa Greenhouses.
Looking at the overall display, the differences between some of the containers were striking in terms of aesthetics and size, while no significant differences could be observed in other containers. Mazat says generally she preferred the look obtained with the liners because better blending could be achieved between the plants, creating a nice, full look.
Check out the accompanying slideshow to see some of the comparisons and for more highlights from 2015 Darwin Perennials Day. And be sure to visit darwinperennials.com to find out the details for attending in 2016.