Friday, January 18, 2008

Tips from the Trial Gardens

I had the good fortune of visiting 4 trial gardens this year - Landscape Ontario's new beds in Milton; University of Guelph; Oklahoma State University; and Vesey's in Prince Edward Island. In addition to the seed catalogues and the glossy photographs I've got my very own photos to help me pick which new plants will fit best in my garden.

At each trial garden, I take an establishing shot of the entire garden when possible. From this shot, it often is abundantly clear which patch of flowering plants is a winner. If I'm able, I'll go right to the splash of colour to take a mid-length and close-up shot, including a separate frame of the name - I've always thought I could remember, especially when something is sooooo fabulous, but usually at the end of the day my mind is perfectly clear and unable to recall that plant that I just have to order next January.

It's a real help and treat to be able to go back to these photos when I'm doing my seed ordering. And, I must admit sometimes a little frustrating when I realize that some of these plants are so new that they are not yet available for sale.

One of the big trial plants is the Petunia. While every year for the last five, I've vowed I wouldn't bother with them because by the end of June they are full of disease and completely horrid looking. However, I'm once again in the market based on how fabulous these trial Petunias looked in mid-July. As well those beautiful Petunias, there were those that looked just as revolting as those I'd grown myself - so perhaps, it's not me but the kind of Petunia I had been growing.

So, this year, I'm on the lookout for Proven Winners Supertunia Vista Bubblegum - it is immense and really is the colour of Double Bubble. The next for that big blank area that needs to be filled is Tidal Wave Silver - good growth and soft white/purple colour. Last, if I'm looking for a white, Takii Opera Supreme White looks like a good bet - not the largest flowers, but lots of them and the plants look good too.

So, if you're looking for a break and want to check out what's new in bedding plants, Google AAS Trial Gardens in your area, load up the car and get ready to see and photograph some wonderful plants.

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