In October we wrapped up our third season of a friendly competition in our Trial Garden. Our gardeners submitted plant combinations and designs that were showcased for all of our guests to enjoy—and vote for their favorites! Our Trial Garden competition allows us to test plants for future use, explore new combinations, and most importantly, acquire feedback from our guests that we can incorporate into future garden designs. Data collected from the previous years has shown us that there is no magical species or cultivar that draws voting guests in and leads to victory. Instead, popularity relies on the gardener’s ability to artistically exercise their horticultural knowledge to create a long lasting and captivating display.
For 2017, voting began on June 5 and ended on October 8. In each of the 15 Trial Garden plots, a gardener was allowed to choose three to eight plants from a list of more than 160 species and cultivars. This year, however, we added a special ingredient: dahlias. We thought it fitting to highlight dahlias since our Gardens will be overflowing with them next year when Longwood hosts the 2018 National Dahlia Show on September 22 & 23. We are so excited about next year’s show, and we wanted to give people a small glimpse of what is to come by adding dahlias into this year’s designs.
Now for this year’s results! Our guests submitted more than 3,800 ballots over the course of the summer with many wonderful comments about the talents of all our gardeners. Guests also expressed how hard it was to just pick their top three! This year’s winner is the fabulous Flamenco Dancer, designed by April Bevans. By the end of June this garden pulled ahead of the competition and never looked back. There was an intense back and forth battle between second and third place, but in the end, second went to Sunny Day and third went to Thin Blue Line.
We would like to say congratulations to all of the participating gardeners for doing such a fantastic job this year, and thank you to all of the guests who provided us with their feedback and voted. We look forward to what the next year brings to the Trial Gardens, and we hope to see everyone at the National Dahlia Show.
First Place: Flamenco Dancer
- Caladium ‘Red Flash’
- Cyperus papyrus ‘King Tut’
- Dahlia ‘Juanita’
- Dahlia ‘Smarty Pants’
- Ipomoea batatas ‘NCORNSP-014BWPI’ Sweet Caroline Bewitched Improved
- Pennisetum purpureum ‘Tift 8’ Vertigo™
- Petunia x hybrida ‘PAS1085269’ Tidal Wave® Red Velour
Second Place: Sunny Day
- Canna ‘Toucan Yellow’
- Dahlia ‘Bonaventure’
- Lantana camara ‘Balandgold’ Landmark Gold™
- Lantana ‘Robpwcrm’ Luscious Lemonade™
- Ruellia simplex ‘Purple Showers’
- Senna didymobotrya
- Solenostemon scutellarioides ‘Gay's Delight’
- Verbena bonariensis
Third Place: Thin Blue Line
- Dahlia ‘Bluetiful’
- Dahlia ‘Trooper Dan’
- Lysimachia nummularia ‘Goldilocks’
- Pennisetum setaceum ‘Fireworks’
- Salvia farinacea ‘Victoria Blue’
- Solenostemon scutellarioides ‘Dipt in Wine’
- Solenostemon scutellarioides ‘Swallowtail’