June 15, 2010
Over 500 plants evaluated at this year’s trial gardens
Phantom petunia.
By Rodger Tschanz

This year over 500 different plants will be evaluated at the Guelph and Landscape Ontario trial garden sites. The gardens will be open to members of the industry on Aug. 20, while the public will have an opportunity to see the new plants on Aug. 17, and again on Aug. 21 as part of the Milton Horticultural Society’s annual garden tour.

What to see at this year’s trials:

Perennial trial
In 2009, there was a significant increase in the number of perennials in the trial. One year later, these perennials are well established and ready to give us a realistic view of their bloom performance. More new perennials from Ball, Blooms of Bressingham, Takii, Vanhof and Blokker and Jelitto are being planted in 2010, including the biennial Alcea (hollyhock), which will be represented by seven entries.

Annual trial
This group is always a big part of the trial garden. Highlights this year include three selections in the black family of petunias from Ball Horticulture, and the ultra-large Magnum series of New Guinea impatiens from Dummen. Large selections of verbena, calibrachoa and lantana are also noteworthy. Participating plant breeders include Ball, Syngenta, Suntory, Proven Winners, Floranova and Takii.

Vegetables for Small Urban Spaces trial
In 2009, there was a sharp increase in consumer interest in home food production.  The gardens reflected this by trialing food plants that can fit nicely into small urban spaces. This year, tomatoes will be excluded in order to evaluate some new and unusual edible plant selections. For example, six different okra cultivars will be evaluated; the heat we are experiencing right now will be ideal for this group of plants. Seeds of Change, Ontario Seed Company and Floranova are the seed suppliers for this trial.

Steam weed control
In a never-ending attempt to find alternatives for weed control in our lawn and gardens, an experiment examining steam methods will be run at both the Guelph and Milton trial sites. Visitors to the open house will have an opportunity to visit the treatment plots and see the experiment in progress.  

New woody plant container display
The trial garden program does not yet evaluate new woody material, but we are providing Landscape Ontario’s nursery growers with the opportunity to bring and display some of their newer cultivars of woody plants at the industry open house on Aug. 20. Such a display will complement the Trial Garden’s what-is-new theme.

Open house dates

Fri., Aug. 20, LO Trial Garden (Milton) 9:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. and the Guelph Trial Garden 2:30 - 4 p.m. (free admission). Events include talks and tours of this year’s trials (refreshments at the LO site) and a lunch at the LO site. Trial Garden sponsors will be on hand to talk about their products.

Tues., Aug. 17, noon - 8 p.m. at the Guelph Trial Garden. (free admission), and Sat., Aug. 21, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. at the LO Trial Garden (free admission). Note: This year the LO trial garden will be a tour stop on the annual Milton Horticultural Society’s Garden Tour, a fundraising event in support of  United Way. Tickets for the full garden tour are $25 and can be purchased on the Milton United Way website at www.miltonunitedway.ca.

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