Apr 7, 2014
As Seen @ California Spring Trials — Days 1 & 2By Tim Hodson

Team GPN has survived the first two days of 2014 California Spring Trials.

On Saturday, we started in the northern part of the state and will be making our way down the coast through Thursday.

Our first stop on Saturday was at the Proven Winners location at Chaminade Spa & Resort in Santa Cruz.

There were plenty of new introductions on display at the resort, but Anytime Sugarplum pansiola really grabbed our attention. It has the best traits of a pansy and a viola – a cool-season crop that can handle the heat.

Proven Winners’ John Gaydos told us the new cuphea Vermillionaire is “an absolute hummingbird magnet.” It is a low-maintenance plant that is heat and humidity tolerant. It has a mounding habit with striking orange flowers.

Our second stop was at Syngenta Flowers in Gilroy. There we saw the debut of ‘Callie Apricot’ calibrachoa. It has a well-mounded, overflowing habit that will really work well in hanging baskets and large containers. The Callie series also includes ‘Pink with Eye’ and ‘Burgundy’.

Syngenta’s Grandahlia series features five core colors and two novelty colors (‘Grandahlia Yellow’ is pictured) with rich, vibrant blooms. It is a continuous bloomer that will produce flower buds throughout the plant’s lifespan.

Our final stop on Saturday was a little ways down the road at Headstart Nursery where Danziger “Dan” Flower Farm’s new introductions were on display. We really missed seeing our good friend Reese Kiikka, this year. Reese was Danziger’s North American rep who died suddenly in February.

Danziger’s new ‘Noa Violet’ calibrachoa was a very impressive introduction. It has large, rich violet-colored flowers with a dark eye and a tight, compact growing habit.

Another star at Danziger was the ‘Cascadias Autumn Mystery’ petunia. The large flowers are mocha colored with a purple eye and a compact growth habit.

Yesterday, we began the day at Golden State Bulb Company in Moss Landing. There we saw a new, sturdier introduction in the Callafornia Callas series – ‘Gold Fever’. Reaching a height of approximately 24 inches, this calla’s deep yellow blooms stand out above its maculated foliage. ‘Gold Fever’ is versatile and also serves well for cut flower growers thanks to its high flower production.

New to the Aloha Lily series, ‘Leia’ is a burgundy multi-flowering dwarf eucomis that’s fragrant (coconut scented) and features purple spotted leaves. Soft pink ‘Nani’ and white ‘Maui’ round out the series.

At Benary in Watsonville, we were introduced to the new Success series of petunias. This trailing petunia flowers earlier and is uniform both in its timing and its growth habit. ‘Success Burgundy’ (pictured) is one of the eight new colors in this series.

This year Benary was also introducing its Admire series of violas. This series is easy to produce in the spring and the fall. It has good branching and uniform timing across the series. There 10 colors in the series, ‘Red Blotch’ is pictured here.

At Pacific Plug & Liner, we got a chance to see the introduction of the new white strawberry Hula Berry. The plant will produce fruit in only 55 days and the berry has a pineapple flavor to it.

‘Echibeckia Summerina’ from PP&L is, as the name suggests, a cross between rudbeckia and Echinacea. It has the strength of Echinacea and the look of rudbeckia. The large flowers can last up to two months.

Also at PP&L, one of the new intros from Cultivaris was ‘Illumination Apricot’ digiplexis.

Our last stop on Sunday was at Speedling where we saw the beautiful blue ‘Cello Marina’ pansy on the display benches at Hem Genetics.

Thompson & Morgan’s thunbergia alata ‘Amber Eyes’ with its creamy yellow flowers with a dark eye was also an attention-getter.

We’ve got four more days to go – be on the lookout for our updates. And don’t forget, you can see additional photos in our photo gallery on www.CaliforniaSpringTrials.com.

– Tim

Tim Hodson

Tim Hodson is the editorial director of GPN and Big Grower. He can be reached at thodson@greatamericanpublish.com

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