Last Friday, I traveled to West Chicago to attend Ball Seed Customer Day.
As I drove through a pretty good thunderstorm (a rarity this summer in the Midwest) from the northern suburbs, I was expecting to spend the day walking under an umbrella with squishy, wet shoes. But the sun came out as soon as I pulled into the parking lot of the Gardens at Ball, and stayed out the rest of the day.
Despite the brutal heat that we've had in Chicago this year, the Gardens looked amazing. The remnants of the early morning thunderstorm dried up pretty fast and really freshened everything up.
The invitation said there would be more than 3,000 varieties from 90 breeders would be on display including annuals, perennials, grasses, tropicals, vegetables, shrubs and herbs — and were they ever! In addition to seeing varieties from all of the different Ball divisions, there were more than 100 additional horticulture suppliers on hand showing of their newest products too.
The crew has been doing battle with Mother Nature and 100+ degree temperatures all summer long and it looked they are winning the battle. There was an enormous dedicated vegetable garden as well as an expanded area for row trials and enlarged perennial and shrub gardens.
I also had an opportunity to see the All-America Selections trials that are taking place in the Gardens. Last week, AAS announced it would be adding vegative ornamental to its 2013 trialing program (see news story below).
If you have a chance to visit trial gardens in your area, do it! It is an awesome opportunity to how varieites can perform in your zone and it will give you an excellent idea of what to expect if you were to grow the same varieties. Plus, it's always just great to get out an talk to other growers and retailers see what they are doing.
I've posted a few photos from the Gardens on the GPN Facebook page . Be sure to check them out.