2014 North Central Trial Garden

“Where have all the flowers gone?” Gone to seedling bench, everyone!? With only 12 entries this year they certainly were not in the North Central Trial Garden!

It is concerning that every year brings fewer submissions for evaluation and classification through the trial garden. It may be drought conditions, harsh climatic swings, poor keeping quality of new seedlings or maybe even high postage rates that have impacted the number of entries made to the Trial Garden, but this showpiece on the main drive of the University’s Landscape Arboretum is in jeopardy of being lost. Not to disappoint staff and visitors and risk losing this valuable garden space, ¾ of the garden this year was planted with donated, named varieties to fill our otherwise empty Trial Garden. However, the question has been raised as to whether or not the travel time, mileage and man-hours to maintain and judge the garden can be justified for so few trial entries.

“A difficult growing season” was the song sung by many gardeners in our region. Winter wouldn’t give up its hold and prolonged spring rain and super-saturated soil made for a late start again this year. We couldn’t plant our 12 entries until May 31st. The garden looked so empty! Our June 22nd picnic had our members out feverishly planting the remainder of the garden with the donated buffers.

Kelsey Dwarf (MS LV/pr) took the award for highest score in the garden as well as first bloom on June 24 (just 3 weeks after planting!) and thrilled container enthusiasts with its season-long multitude of eye-catching flowers on neat, 2’x2’ plants. Hollyhill Rudolph (MB RD) followed early July and was very appealing to garden visitors with its floriferous, fire-engine red, globular blooms dotting dense foliage. A cold spell in early August slowed the plants, but by mid-month KA’s Cloud (A ID WH), substantial in size, was as delicate as a cloud at sunrise with its pastel blush. Clearview Sharon (B C YL) and Hollyhill Jeanette (BB C OR) popped from the garden with their striking cactus forms and vibrant colors as you may have noticed, in our local television “Grow with KARE” segment that was filmed in our trial garden.

Early, light frosts had the trial garden put to bed October 18th with soil samples taken to determine amendments needed for growing next year’s potential winners. Please consider NCTG for your evaluation needs. We don’t wish to lose this valuable resource!

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Author: Karen Zierdt

Trial Garden Judging Coordinator Judges Accreditation Committee member

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