July 15, 2011
Rodger Tschanz says this year’s trial garden features some exciting new plants.
Rodger Tschanz says this year’s trial garden features some exciting new plants.
By Rodger Tschanz
University of Guelph Trial Garden Manager

At press time, the sun is finally shining, after a long dismal and wet spring, and I’ve finally got the gardens planted. The planting of this year’s trials was delayed, but now that it is done, an occasional rainfall will be appreciated.  

Spring clean-up and bed preparation this year was accomplished to a large degree thanks to the help of Al Nason’s horticultural students from Notre Dame Catholic Secondary School in Burlington. Another big help this year was the soil amendments from Gro-bark, that were incorporated to greatly improve the tilth of the trial beds.

There are some exciting new plants in the trials for the 2011 season. They include, second generation black petunias, double-flowered osteospermum, large flowered New Guinea impatiens, angelonia and bidens and more perennials from Blooms of Bressingham, Jelitto, Ball and Vanhof and Blokker. Of course, there is the continued growing trial of Echinacea and Heuchera — both vegetatively and seed propagated — and display beds by Goldsmith Seeds and Proven Winners.

A vegetable bed, grown and maintained by LO staff members in their off-hours, is also a new and interesting addition this year.

Research into finding environmentally friendly methods to fight weeds and grass is also part of this year’s trial gardens. Clear plastic versus black plastic in a solarization trial is on display next to the trial garden plots. Which do you think will do a better job of killing weeds and grass? The exercise is part of the University of Guelph research program.

Also new this year is the beginning of a volunteer auxiliary to help plant and maintain the gardens. So far, four local gardeners have offered to help with the 2011 season.

Open house, Aug. 12

This year’s open house for the horticultural professionals will take place on the morning of Fri., Aug. 12. The speaker program this year will follow-up on the horticultural soil talk from last year with a research and experiential perspective on microbial soil additives (for example: mycorrhizae). This program will be of interest to those planting both herbaceous and woody plants.

Tours of the trial garden will immediately follow the speaker program.  Voting on your favourites will take place again. The afternoon program will continue at the Guelph Trial Garden at the Guelph Turfgrass Institute. Updates on turf research will take place at the Guelph site, as well.

The public will be invited to the Landscape Ontario gardens on Sat., Aug. 13 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Guelph trials will be open to the public on Wed., Aug. 17 from noon until 8 p.m.

To find out more about sponsorship opportunities available with the trial garden, contact Rodger Tschanz at rtschanz@uoguelph.ca, or Kathleen Pugliese at kathleenp@landscapeontario.com.