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Friday, September 11, 2009

Trial vs Display Gardens

Yesterday, after finishing a horticulture course (you can read more about it at my Old Country Gardens blog) a few fellow club members and I headed over to Eisenhower Park. We decided to visit the trial gardens that are planted there outside the Cornell Cooperative Extension office.

Most people don't realize there is a vast difference between a "trial" garden and a "display" garden. In a trial garden you will often find new plant material or even unregistered (unnamed) seedlings of plants. There are also often rules that state the plant material cannot be given special attention (such as extra fertilizers or pinching or staking).

Trial gardens are often unattractive, plants are planted in rows, right next to something that does not combine well. But, a trial garden is well worth your time to visit because it is a learning tool.

The Celosia 'Fresh Look Gold' in the top photo was the best looking plant in the All America Selections trial area.

This fall blooming Allium was in the herb garden but I did not see a cultivar name.

The best garden by far (in my opinion) was the butterfly garden. It was incredibly full and lush. My only regret was that I could not find labels with plant names. That's not to say there weren't labels there, it's totally possibly that at the base of the plants there were small labels but none were visible to the eye and with the multitude of pollinating insects that were on these plants, I had no intention of disturbing anything.

This soft orange Agastache (hyssop) had the most delicious scented foliage. Kim and I really liked the color too, especially against the lavender blues that were in the garden. I'm pretty sure I've seen this plant for sale around here under the name 'Apricot Sprite'. It's not a perennial Agastache in our zone.

Here's one landscape shot of the butterfly garden. The tall lavender Verbena bonariensis was just all over the place, waving in and out with the strong gusts of wind. The wind was actually making it quite difficult to get clear photos.

Another landscape shot, this one has a nice Sedum in the foreground. If you've been reading my blogs for any amount of time you know I love Sedum. This time of year they really put on a show and who could complain about something this lovely that blooms in September?

I couldn't help trying to get a close up of the orange bloom that had snuck it's way into a sea of Rudbeckia.

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly weed) has finished blooming and now it's incredible seed pods are popping open. There's three or four Asclepias growing here in my garden but for some reason I have no seed pods this year. I do think it's because there were lots of insects munching on the plants but hey, that's why I grow them!

Isn't it cool how this single fluffy seed pod was caught up on a Verbena bloom? It made me want to take a handful of seeds, blow them into the air and make a wish.

Whoa, just heard a big rumble of thunder and it's starting to pour. Yesterday when I came home I found my entire patio table in my swimming pool. It still had the 9' umbrella with cast iron base attached. The umbrella spokes were shattered and one spoke had punctured one of my new lounge chairs. What a bummer...and what a hard time I had getting it out of the pool without getting into that freezing cold water myself!

I'm feeling a cleaning frenzy come upon me. Rare as these are, I'd better take advantage of it while the mood strikes me. Hope I can remember where my vacuum cleaner is......

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