Today was Colorado State University’s flower trial garden evaluation day.
CSU faculty, research associates, students and master gardeners, as well as green industry professionals fanned out across the annuals trial garden this morning. Each of us was assigned 300 varieties to evaluate.
I reviewed more petunias, geraniums and callibrachoas than I had ever seen in my life. The criteria included vigor, uniformity, density of blooms, foliage quality, color uniqueness and vibrancy, to name a few. The callibrachoas, in particular, gave me insight into the difficulties of breeding those qualities into a plant. Some plants were lopsided with few flowers. Some had leaves with iron chlorosis (yellowing). Others had sunburned blooms. It was an education.
Those perky verbenas that I planted in the trial garden a couple of months ago? Many of them aren’t so perky now. Verbenas seem to have a difficult time with Colorado’s growing conditions.
There were several coleus, though, that were outstanding for their vigor, color and uniformity. In fact, I nominated one variety, Inferno, for best of show.
In all, there were about 1,014 different annual varieties this year. Plant companies could choose whether they wanted their varieties grown in the ground, in a container, or both.
At the end of the growing season, CSU will issue a garden performance report with information that can be used by the horticulture industry, as well as by the public. In addition, CSU will announce the 2016 winners on its Flower Trial Garden website. Stay tuned.