July 15, 2017
‘Look-A-Likes Phloxy Baby’ is a different and attractive shrub rose in the trial gardens.
‘Look-A-Likes Phloxy Baby’ is a different and attractive shrub rose in the trial gardens.
By Rodger Tschanz
University of Guelph Trial Garden Manager

This year’s Industry Open House at the Landscape Ontario/University of Guelph Trial Gardens is scheduled for August 17. The format will be the same as in the past with a speaker program and garden tour of the Landscape Ontario trial in the morning and a tour of the Guelph trials in the afternoon. The details of the speaker program will be announced through email newsletters closer to the date. This updated information will also be available on the new Trial Garden website at trialgarden.uoguelph.ca. Incidentally, a new feature of this website will be the opportunity to sign-up for a blog that will keep you apprised of the latest happenings in the trial gardens. In the meantime, here is a trial garden update.


In addition to the selection of new annuals and perennials planted this year, visitors to the gardens will have the opportunity to evaluate the second-year performance of the extensive rose trial. As spring turned to summer in June this year, the rose trial, planted in 2016, put on a tremendous show of colourful blooms. The vast majority of roses in this new trial established well last year and survived the winter of 2016/17. One exceptional cultivar that caught my attention this spring as being both different and attractive, was the landscape shrub rose, ‘Look-A-Likes Phloxy Baby’ (see photo). In addition to the 164 roses from last year, two new roses have been planted this year. Sheridan Nurseries has supplied the trial with the ‘At Last’ rose cultivar, which has an orange-coloured flower that is both fragrant and disease-resistant. The second new rose is ‘Canadian Shield,’ the first rose in the 49th Parallel collection from the rose breeding program at Vineland and Plant of the Year for Canada Blooms in 2017.


The hydrangea trial that was planted in 2016 did not establish well in the newly-constructed beds last year. The uneven plant growth between cultivars as a result of this poor establishment made a comparison between acid treatments and cultivars meaningless. As a result, we decided to replant this valuable trial and start over. The second shrub trial planted last year includes selections of Spirea, Diervilla, Potentilla and Weigela from Van Belle Nursery and comparisons of the same from a selection of Ontario nurseries. This trial established well and will provide an informative side-by-side comparison of these shrub cultivars.


A selection of new perennials along with “tried and true” comparisons from Vanhof and Blokker were planted side-by-side in the trial garden this spring. Many of these trial entries (Aquilegia, Astilbe, Astrantia, Ligularia, Trycystris, and Rodgersia) are shade tolerant plants and were planted under the trees in the boulevard garden along the entry way to the LO office. Other new perennials this year include a number of seed-propagated selections from Jelitto Seeds as well as a number of selections from Rozanne and Friends, formerly known as Blooms of Bressingham.


The world of the sunflower has changed with the arrival of ‘Sunfinity,’ an exciting new introduction from Syngenta that, unlike the traditional sunflower that blooms only once or for a short period of time, has an indeterminate growth habit, blooms all season long and eventually develops a bushy appearance. Other intriguing annuals for this year include: Thunbergia ‘A-Peel Tangerine Slice,’ Calendula ‘Lady Godiva Orange,’ Verbena ‘Twister Dark Red,’ the Solenostemon ‘Great Falls’ series of trailing coleus, the Portulaca ‘Cupcake Upright’ series, Zinnia ‘Zany Rose Picotee,’ Calocephalus ‘Bed Head,’ the Lavandula ‘Bandera’ series and the ‘Popstars’ series of annual phlox.
For updates on the trial gardens and details on this year’s open house on Aug. 17, visit trialgarden.uoguelph.ca and horttrades.com/trial-gardens.