California Spring Trials: Dr. Allan Armitage Notes Emerging Trends From Ernst Benary, HMA, And Other Breeders

California Spring Trials: Dr. Allan Armitage Notes Emerging Trends From Ernst Benary, HMA, And Other Breeders

Attractive new varieties will draw the eyes of consumers, but innovation and creativity will keep them coming back. In recognition of that, here are five things that caught my eye from our trips to Pacific Plug & Liner and Ernst Benary during California Spring Trials.




I no longer apologize for not knowing a whole lot about the world of succulents — not after visiting Horticultural Marketing Associates (HMA) and seeing that it is a very big world indeed. We saw some wonderful creativity at Dümmen, but we also saw the incredible mountain of diversity at HMA, and they will be the first to tell you, it was just the tip. Between sedum, aonium, kalanchoe, echeveria, and countless others, designers and growers will be whistling with pleasure for years to come.

Gaura ‘Lillipop Blush’ (Cultivaris)

There are a good many gauras on the market, but let’s not for one minute think there is not room for better ones. This is definitely a better one. Cultivaris showed this very compact, tough, tomato-red gaura, and I kept going back to it. There have been disappointing gauras in the past few years, but this looks to have a good chance of succeeding.

Hellebore Program At Pacific Plug & Liner

I still find it hard to believe that so many perennial growers have never considered hellebores. Repeat after me: “Deer proof.” Even if the better habits, the variegated leaves, and the colorful flowers do little for you, simply remember the deer. Every gardener does, and we better as well. The program at Pacific Plug & Liner is outstanding, and while plants are longer on the ground and more expensive than a petunia, the value for everyone is a no-brainer.

Bellis ‘Starstruck’ (Ernst Benary of America)

It is interesting that a plant with some of the smallest flowers caught my eye. As an addition to the fall program, these English daisies from Benary should be used far more often. This selection should be seriously considered by anyone who grows pansies and violas, or snaps and dianthus for fall sales. It has great colors and excellent uniformity.

Creativity At Benary

Creativity does not reside in a plastic pot, nor can it be measured at the register. But it is an important part of our industry. It helps businesses succeed and brings our customers back to what we do. Perhaps it is something in the water, but Benary has really been making people smile lately, not only because of their fine breeding, but because they take a chance on doing some things that remind us that not everything is a penny here or a pot size there. We had a ball watching their flower fashion show — we smiled, the women took hundreds of photos when Mr. Boy Model came out, and money was even exchanged between one of our fine industry mentors and a lovely model (gotta be either Laura or Janeen :)). In the end, we had taken our plant notes, but we all left a little happier in our travels. You can’t buy creativity, but you sure can appreciate it.