Well, you can now put 2014 California Spring Trials in the books. We finally wrapped up our tour yesterday afternoon and headed to the airport — tired and exhausted, but it was a good tired and exhausted.
Here’s a brief recap of our final two days.
We started on Wednesday at Dümmen’s site in Santa Paula. The Edna Valley Winery hosted Dümmen’s Red Fox introductions, Santa Paula was the place to see the company’s other brands like Oro, Ecke, Fides and Oglevee.
The Oro line of petunias now has 114 different products that are produced in separate facilities from the company’s other petunias. The Fortunia series really looked nice, especially ‘Fortunia Fresh Orange’. In containers, hanging baskets or the landscape, it is an excellent garden performer. It features a larger than average flower size and has medium vigor and a trailing habit.
It always fun to see a little bit of Christmas at Spring Trials and the Ecke display of new and experimental poinsettias did not disappoint. One that really stood out on the bench was the new intro ‘Premier White’ from the company's early poinsettia line.
Also exhibiting at the Dümmen site was Greenfuse Botanicals where Steve Jones showed us their newest introductions.
Steve told us the Fuchsia Windchimes series has been upgraded for 2014-15. It features consistent earlier flowering and a more uniform habit. It boasts larger and more abundant double flowers and is available in three colors (Lilac/Rose is pictured) and will reach a mature height of 10 to 14 inches.
The Blanket petunia series from Greenfuse added two new colors this year and one improvement (Yellow, Red and Rose Improved). Vigorous and tough-weather tolerant, Blanket is covered with color, early to flower and great for landscapes in a variety of regions.
Our next stop was around the corner from Dümmen to visit Ball Horticultural Co. The displays at Ball are always impressive and that was the case again this year, they looked fantastic!
Right as visitors walked into the display gardens at Ball they were greeted by the new ‘Blue Eyed Beauty’ osteospermum from Ball FloraPlant. It is a real looker that shows off a vivid bicolor that would do well as an early-season endcap item at retail. It will reach a mature height of approximately 14 inches. If you haven't seen her yet, you’ll be seeing this beauty on the April cover of GPN.
Pan American Seed might be getting into the wedding business with the introduction of the Heirloom Marriage Collection of tomatoes. The new ‘Genuwine’ F1 tomato is a cross Costoluto Genovese + Brandywine and has that rippled “heirloom look” many consumers look for. ‘Genuwine’ is indeterminate and harvests two weeks earlier than Brandywine.
The Easy Wave line continues to grow with the introduction of the Velours – Red, Berry and Burgundy – that have a deep velvety and stylish look that will spread up to 3 feet. Like the rest of the Easy Wave series, the Velours are backed by full marketing support with free POP and branded packaging available.
Also, while we were at Ball, we got a sneak peek behind the curtain to see the soon-to-be-introduced Kabloom series of seed-raised calibrachoa. PanAm Seed is doing a “staggered launch” of this line. We were told it has been trialed by more than 80 growers and is expected to debut at Cultivate’14 in July where a new culture guide will also be available. Seed is expected to be available in September. There will be six colors and one bicolor in the introduction.
The Jurassic Rex begonia series from Ball Ingenuity was another attention grabber. ‘Silver Point’ is one of five introductions in the series. With bold colors and striking patterns, the Jurassic series has excellent uniformity and is fast to finish. It will reach a height of 16 inches.
We finished the day on Wednesday by climbing a mountain to the newest Spring Trials stop. The newly-opened Ventura Botanic Gardens is where EuroAmerican Propagators and Suntory were displaying their new intros.
One of the bright stars at EuroAmerican was coreopsis Sunshine Suzie. Suzie shows off consistent color from spring through fall. It is a low maintenance, low water plant that blooms profusely and will reach a mature height of 18 to 24 inches.
Also at EuroAmerican, we got to see the Sundancer fuchsia that is a heat-resistant, vigorous bloomer. It features dark green foliage that complements its hot pink and purple blooms. This variety does well in full sun.
At the Suntory display we got our first in-person look at the new Surfinia Sumo petunias. Big and bold, these petunias have a vigorous mounding habit that will reach a mature height of 20 inches with up to a 55-inch spread. Sumos are available in three colors: Pink, Plum and Bold Lilac (pictured).
Suntory’s Sundiascia features heat tolerance, tall, sturdy flower spikes and an upright habit. This combination thriller is shipping friendly and available in Upright Blush White, Upright Bright Pink (shown here) and Upright Peach.
The final day of our 2014 California Spring Trials adventure took place in Oxnard where we hade a chance to visit with all of the exhibiting companies at GroLink’s facilities.
GroLink always provides us with great colorful photo ops and this year’s new introduction of the Jasoda family of Belgian mums made a great backdrop. The Jasoda family is available six vibrant colors. These Belgian mum have excellent branching, flexible stems and do not require any pinching.
The Sweet range of Garvinea from Florist added three new colors this year. These Garvinea have very large flowers that make for instant fun in a container on a patio or in a garden border. ‘Garvinea Sweet Smile’ is pictured here.
This year Hort Couture was introducing 14 new varieties — eight of them are exclusive to the Hort Couture program for IGCs. The Party Girl primula collection looks like a winner for early spring and Easter sales. Its five colors are “fun, frilly and full of color.” 'Valentine's Day' is pictured.
Hort Couture’s ‘Glamouflage Blueberry’ is the new companion to the previously introduced ‘Glamouflage Grape’. It has a stable variegated foliage and a beautiful blue color that looks great in combos.
Florensis’ Happy Days dahlia was another eyecatcher. The very dark foliage really makes the flower color pop both at retail and in the garden. Check out 'Happy Days Purple.'
PlantHaven always brings fun, new and different items to the market. Front and center in their display was the ‘French Connection Easter Bonnet’ nemesia. It has a real sophisticated but spring-like bicolor of lemon and pink with a wonderful fragrance.
Our last visit was with Florist Holland where we were introduced to ‘Roselily Natalia'. This Asiatic beauty has double flowers, is heat tolerant and a very long vase life.
As I have been mentioning all week, California Spring Trials is always an adventure —a fun and exciting adventure. It’s fascinating to see the latest and greatest new intros, catch up with old friends and meet new ones.
Be sure to keep checking our photo gallery pages on www.CaliforniaSpringTrials.com  where we will continue to be posting many, many more photos of the new varieties, displays and people we encountered during our six-day journey.
And don’t forget, the June and July issues of GPN will also have extended editorial coverage of 2014 California Spring Trials.
— Tim