For a second season, staff members from all corners of the Gardens used their creative talents to design garden plots in our Trial Garden—all while engaging in a friendly competition. The process is a way for us to showcase new plants for our guests, evaluate each plant’s suitability for our display, and spotlight our staff’s design talents.
Participants selected three to eight plants from a list of more than 160 plant species and cultivars. This year we had a total of 15 different combinations, including the top three combinations from the 2015 Trial Garden. We decided to put last year’s winners back on trial to see if they could withstand the test of a second season. After all the combinations were installed in the garden beds this spring, the voting was in the hands of our guests.
Voting started June 10 and lasted for 16 weeks, during which time we received more than 3,500 ballots. We discovered hidden talent in our Continuing Education team, who designed the winning mix, Little Jewel—a garden that started strong and kept its momentum all season. Meanwhile, the top two combinations from last year’s competition finished in the top five this year, with Hot, Hot, Hot (first in 2015) coming in fifth in 2016, and Prairie Sunset (second in 2015) coming in third.
We continue to receive a great deal of positive feedback on this new idea for the Trial Garden, and so we'll continue with a similar theme next year, but will be adding more dahlias. Congratulations to the winners of the 2016 Trial Garden Competition!
- Colocasia esculenta ‘Elana’
- Emilia coccinia
- Petunia x Calibrachoa ‘SAKPXC006’ SupertCal® Blue
- Salvia guaranitica ‘Kobalt’
- Solenostemon scutellarioides ‘Lime Time’
- Verbena x hybrida ‘Lan Dareda’ Lanai Dark Red
- Angelonia angustifolia ‘Serena Blue’
- Canna ‘Phasion Tropicanna’
- Dahlia ‘Mystic Spirit’
- Otacanthus azureus
- Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’
- Salvia guarantica ‘Kobalt’
- Zinnia marylandica ‘Zahara Double Fire’
- Agastache cana ‘Sinning’ Sonoran Sunset®
- Agastache mexicana ‘Kiegador’ Acapulco® Orange
- Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’
- Carex flagellifera ‘Toffee Twist’
- Emilia coccinea
- Nassella tenuissima
- Pennisetum villosum
- Verbena bonariensis
Photos by Cynthia Bachman.