July 15, 2012
Rodger Tschanz has planted a huge number of new varieties in this year’s trial gardens.
Rodger Tschanz has planted a huge number of new varieties in this year’s trial gardens.
By Rodger Tschanz
University of Guelph trial garden manager

Horticultural professionals need to mark the date of Aug. 17, for the annual open house at the LO trial gardens.
This year visitors will see some big changes to the trial beds at Landscape Ontario’s home office. The most noticeable difference is the addition of the two large rose beds situated between the previous trial beds and Highway 401.

Over 800 rose bushes representing a number of cultivars, donated by John Bakker of J.C. Bakker and Sons, St. Catharines, were planted this spring.The new gardens demonstrate the mass planting application of roses in the landscape.

At the August open house, Bakker will talk about new varieties of roses. He will be joined by other educational speakers beginning at 9 a.m. with Thelma Kessel discussing Alternatives to Ash. A rain garden demonstration will conclude the segment, followed by the tour of the gardens from 10:30 a.m. to noon.

The afternoon program starts at 1 p.m. in Guelph at the Guelph Turfgrass Institute with tours, self-guided or otherwise, of the Guelph trial plots.  

Many highlights

Other highlights this year include display beds using annual bedding plants from both Goldsmith/Syngenta and Proven Winners. The trial to evaluate vegetables for small urban spaces is back after a year’s hiatus.

Over 70 geraniums (from zonal to ivy and interspecific) are in the 2012 trials. SuperSonic, Sonic, Magnum and Sunpatiens series of New Guinea impatiens will be trialed side by side, as will a wide range of Calibrachoas.  

I’ve never grown vegetative-propagated violas before, but this year we have three new entries from Suntory. These will be planted alongside the seed-propagated trailing Cool Wave violas from PanAmerican Seed. The trial area devoted to Heuchera and Echinacea cultivars will double in size this year, with new additions from Proven Winners and Vanhof and Blokker.

Again this year, there is a wide selection of new annuals to view. I welcome two new breeders, Fides and Ecke Ranch, to our trial program. There is continued representation from Ball, Goldsmith/Syngenta, Sakata, Suntory, Takii and Proven Winners in our annual trial beds, with representation of new perennials from Blooms of Bressingham, Jelitto Seed, Kieft, Vanhof and Blokker and Proven Winners.

Volunteer help

The new rose beds did not magically appear, but were the result of at least two days of skid steer operation by John Hewson CLP of Greenscape Lawn Maintenance of Mississauga and chair of the Grounds Maintenance Sector Group. Thank you John, for taking the bull by the horns and getting the bed-making process started.

And, thanks go to Keith Osborne from Gro-Bark for arranging the delivery of the new soil for the rose beds and Rob Ellidge from LO for spreading that soil in preparation for planting.

Placing the rose bushes into the soil was largely accomplished by LO’s office and summer staff. This planting will dramatically increase the magnitude of the floral impact for those travelling on North America’s busiest highway.

When coming to this year’s open house, feel free to bring along your greenhouse grower or client, so you can discuss plant options and get new ideas. If Aug. 17 doesn’t fit your schedule, attend the public open houses on Aug. 15 (noon until 8 p.m.) in Guelph, or on Aug. 18 (10-3 p.m.) in Milton. Both trial sites are open during business hours to allow you to view plant performance throughout the season.

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.