US (MI): MSU Horticulture Garden’s 2017 trial results available

As we near the end of 2017, another trial garden season has come to a close at the Michigan State University Horticulture Gardens. The purpose of the trial gardens is to grow and evaluate new species and cultivars of a wide range of plants under mid-Michigan climatic conditions. Every trialing season is different in terms of the plant breeding companies represented, diversity of plant material entered into the trials and the weather conditions. The temperature and rainfall was much closer to the historical average this year and gave a needed reprieve after the drought conditions of 2016.

The 2017 MSU Trial Gardens. Photo by Daedre McGrath, MSU.

Plants were evaluated throughout the growing season based on vigor, uniformity and ornamental value of the flowers and foliage. The university also takes note of susceptibility to diseases and insects, and tolerance to changes in climatic conditions when appropriate. At the end of the season, they produce trial reports that summarize the six or seven separate evaluations completed throughout the summer. These results are provided to the participating companies and are available to the general public at our MSU Trial Gardens website.

Overall, 2017 was an excellent trialing season. With the help of the cooperative weather, all submitted varieties had a chance to show off their full potential. As a result, the displays were some of the showiest they’ve had in years. Plant varieties that receive full marks at every single evaluation end up in the “Best of the Best” category. These varieties are featured at numerous industry events, in horticultural publications and during presentation with local garden clubs.

Here is a selection of top performers in the following four categories: foliage plants, sun plants, shade plants and edibles.

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