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Grower profile: Chloe Richard

The Trial Gardens at Costa Farms in Homestead, FL, are as beautiful as they are informative in researching and developing plants for the consumer market. Meet Chloe Richard, Research & Development Trial Garden Manager.

So what does a Trial Garden Manager do? 
I effectively design and maintain a five-acre trial garden consisting of 86 raised garden beds, 8 large landscape beds, 3 separate turf areas, and a lovely Butterfly Garden.

I manage a team of three employees throughout the year to complete daily tasks such as planting, pruning, weed management, scouting, and chemical applications to avoid losses.

I also collect data on plant vigor, disease resistance, flowering state, uniformity, and overall plant health to present to breeders, R&D colleagues, and category management.

How does the Trial Garden work? What is its purpose?
The Trial Garden is a show garden for the first event of the year in the Horticulture industry called Season Premiere. This event is held for brokers, breeders, buyers, and industry professionals to get an honest look at all new varieties entering the market.

What have you learned about plants after managing the Trial Garden?
Always expect the unexpected! Stay on a preventive pest and disease schedule but know how to take corrective action when needed.

Do you have a favorite plant? Why?
Roses because my middle name is Rose! Also, roses have an extraordinarily complex symbolic meaning throughout history and mythology. Each of the distinct colors and number of flowers has a unique meaning. Orange roses are my favorite because they symbolize enthusiasm and passion.

What do you love best about your job?
My favorite part of the job is meeting breeders, marketing managers, and horticulture experts from around the world. I get the opportunity to learn about their new varieties, career experiences, and unique passion for plants. Another perk is being in the garden surrounded by a diverse array of colorful flowers throughout the year. I truly have a dream job!

Has working in a trial garden taught you anything about plants that you didn't know before?
I have learned a lot about the different perennial genera since most of my past experiences has been working with annuals.

Do you have any words of wisdom for home gardeners?
Gardening can and will take a lot of time to master, but it helps to learn basic pest scouting techniques, nutritional requirements, and chemical applications needed to keep your plants happy and healthy.

Gardening is a lifelong hobby, isn't it? 
Yes! And I advise gardeners to accept the challenge, learn from mistakes, and do not be afraid to get your hands dirty. It will be the most rewarding hobby when you create your dream oasis.

For more information:
Costa Farms
21800 SW 162ND Ave.
Miami, Florida 33170
(800) 327-7074

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