All are invited to visit the Raker Trial Gardens, opening this summer on July 13, 2011. The Raker Trial Gardens cover more than 4 acres of countryside in Litchfield, Mich. C. Raker & Sons, Inc. uses the Trial Gardens to evaluate the new varieties in true side-by-side comparison trials, to research existing varieties, and to share the data we gather with horticulture professionals and the gardening public.
Trial data is gathered every two weeks beginning early July and is downloaded immediately to the trial garden website. Data collection generally includes height, spread, an overall performance rating and images.
Trial dates are July 13 to Sept. 2, 2011. Garden hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
2011 Trial Garden Highlights:
- Annual row trials. An opportunity to view more than 600 rows of annuals and perennials. This year will include angelonia, tuberous begonia, bracteantha, celosia, cleome, coreopsis, dahlia, echinacea, gerbera mixes and zinnia.
- Sponsor beds. Raker will feature raised brick beds supported and designed by breeders across the globe. Participants include American Takii, Ball FloraPlant, Benary, Ecke Ranch, GroLink, Grimes, HMA, Hort Couture, Jelitto, PanAmerican Seed, Sakata, Selecta, Suntory, Syngenta Flowers and Syngenta Horticultural Services.
- Sponsor rows. Additional sponsors include varieties provided by Amerinova, Bartels Stek, Danziger, Fides, Floranova, GGG, Hishtil, Kieft, Lekkekerk Plants, Optimara/Floremara, Westflowers and jointly sponsored rows from McGregor/McHutchison/Gloeckner.
- 14-inch hanging basket trial. The 2011 Basket Trials feature more than 120 varieties of vegetative lantana. This is one of the most comprehensive trials of this genera ever conducted. Raker will also be showing 110 combo liner baskets, highlighting the popularity of this new mixed liner product class.
- New variety containers. Our popular brick and stone steppes feature 20-inch patio pots dedicated to 2011 new variety introductions for either sun or shade.
- All-America Selections Trial Ground and Display Gardens. Raker is one of 47 locations across North America where new, never-before-sold varieties are tested. Check out what new plants are under evaluation this year, and see the last five years of winners.
- Patio vegetable trial. Raker will be showing almost 80 20-inch containers featuring varieties that have been bred specifically for container performance.
- Lots more. Perennial theme gardens, green roof display, a living wall, Great Lakes native plants garden.
- Facility tours. Spend an hour inside to see how Raker operates, from sticking and sowing to boxing and shipping. Sign up when you arrive for a morning or afternoon tour.
Visit www.raker.com  for more information.