Botanica Atlanta | Landscape Design, Construction & Maintenance

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Atlanta Garden Design

Plant Lust at the UGA Trial Gardens!

Posted by Bonnie Helander on August 19, 2013 at 1:20 PM

In my last blog of August 6, I wrote about the charming old-fashioned tradition of sharing pass-along plants – plants that are tough, easy to propagate and have been passed along and shared for generations by gardeners everywhere. It wasn’t that many years ago when new plant varieties were unavailable or hard to find. Pass-along plants were the staple in a garden. We are so fortunate that times have changed and new plants are popping up all the time. Today your garden can be filled with hundreds of newly-introduced plants that sizzle with color, delight with interesting foliage and amaze with gorgeous blooms.


Favorite pass-along plants include antique roses and geraniums.  Fortunately we can enjoy these old-fashioned favorites as well as all the stunning new plants that come on the market each year.


As a proud graduate of the University of Georgia, I am always looking for any excuse to go over to Athens for a day trip. One of my favorite destinations while in town is the UGA Trial Gardens tucked away near Stegeman Coliseum. The Trial Gardens are the fruition of work started by two retired UGA “rock star” horticulture professors – Dr. Allan Armitage and Dr. Michael Dirr. Here you will find a stunning array of new plants being “tested” before being released on the market.



While visiting the Trial Gardens this past year, I got to say "good-bye" to the amazing "Dr. A" - Allan Armitage - who has made the Trial Gardens so sucessful.


At the Trial Gardens new annuals, vines, tropicals and perennials are tested, reviewed and graded on how they hold up in our challenging Southern climate. Testing criteria includes overall appearance, tolerance to heat and humidity, resistance to disease and insects, ease of propagation, production time and cutting efficiency. Those that score the highest are then sent to growers to be cultivated for the general public. The best-of-the-best are honored with the annual “Classic City Award” – the top honor for any plant in the garden. If you purchase a plant that has survived “boot camp” at the UGA Trial Gardens, you know you are getting a superior plant that will thrive in your garden. The Trial Gardens also serve as a major research and teaching facility for those lucky horticulture students who call UGA their home.


Since August is such a challenging time in the Southern garden, I thought it would be fun to see what is thriving at the Trial Gardens this month.  If you need to add some pizzazz to your outside space during the “dog days of summer,” then you will enjoy seeing some of the best performers at the Trial Gardens right now.  The only problem is - you will want them all!



Who needs blooms when you can enjoy vibrant variegated foliage! On the left is Calladium 'Starburst' from Classic Calladiums and on the right is Coleus 'Kong Jr. Lime Vein' by Ball Ingenuity. Both are growing merrily along in August heat at the Trial Gardens in Athens.




Calibrachoa 'Aloha Kona Mango' (left) in bright mango orange is great for containers and Zinnia 'Zinnita Yellow' by Benary will make a cheerful addition to the late summer garden.



Nothing is more luscious and regal than purple!  On the left is Petunia 'Flash Mob Bluerific' by Burpee HG and on the right is Phlox paniculata 'Shock Wave' by Proven Winners. Note the variegated leaves.


Ask about these amazing new plants at your local nursery and make sure they order them. If you are going to "lust" after these plants, you might as well own them as soon as you can!

Categories: Gardening, Plant Profiles, Landscape Design

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