Scenes from Spring Trials - Days 5 & 6

March 30, 2012 - 11:53

I can't believe the week is already over! I've seen so many new varieties and learned so much about new breeding programs. I can't wait to share it all with you over the next few months in GPN magazine and in this newsletter. But for now, I'd just like to share some of my favorites from the last two days of the Spring Trials.

Day 5 began in Salinas, and our first stop was American Takii. The company has always been known for its excellent petunia breeding. This year, they introduced the Trilogy series. These petunias will work well as a stand-alone variety; they have a nice mounding habit and will spread 30 to 36 inches. And in case you can't see what the sign says: "Wow! Only 1 plant per basket!!"

Sakata expanded many of its collections and added quite a few new introductions to their impressive lineup this year. One variety I would love to see at retail is the lovely new campanula 'Appeal Deep Blue'. It is genetically compact, making it ideal for end-cap promotions and holiday sales.

The Speedling trial location was full of color and new variety introductions for next year. One of my favorite introductions (as I'm a sucker for dwarf plants) is the Nano geranium series from Hem Genetics. I know mini plants are popular in the European market, but I have a feeling they'll become a trend in the United States as more young urban dwellers are becoming gardeners. Nano has the same genetic compactness as Limbo and Mambo petunias; they have large flowers on compact, tidy plants. Here is 'Nano Pink'.

Our last day began at Golden State Bulb Growers, which is always one of my favorite stops. I love seeing a greenhouse full of calla lilies! The new 'Callafornia Red' has been in breeding for a long time, as it can be quite difficult to achieve a good red color in callas. This variety displays rich, bright red flowers. I see it doing very well at retail.

One of the most interesting introductions at the Paciic Plug & Liner stop in Watsonville was Jaldety's salvia hybrid 'Amistad'. This unique bicolor variety has a black calyx with a purple emerging flower. It flowers early and will continue to flower until early winter. I can see this being a wonderful centerpiece for mixed planters. 'Amistad' will be offered exclusively through Pacific Plug & Liner.

Danziger is taking coreopsis breeding to the next level with 'Solanna Golden Sphere'. This variety has a true, stable double ball. With its rich color and dwarf habit (only 14 inches tall), it can be used in perennial beds, borders or even mixed combinations.

Our final Spring Trials stop was at Syngenta Flowers in Gilroy. Throughout the week, I heard some buzz about the new Calliopes at the Syngenta stop, so I was definitely looking forward to seeing them for myself. Four years ago, we were introduced to geranium 'Calliope Dark Red', and the company has finally added more colors to its top-selling series. Calliope has three new vibrant colors, including 'Calliope Hot Pink', which is pictured here.

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