Help us trial some of the 2022 new plant varieties!
Background: 2010 was the first year we offered this program at The Plant Kingdom. First, we would like to say THANK YOU to all those who participated and returned their questionnaires with lots of interesting information these past seasons. Second, we thought it was so successful that we want to continue again this season…with new plants of course. Read on!
The Motivation: Every year there are many new plant varieties released for retail sale by plant breeding companies who spend huge amounts of effort and money to develop new plant genetics. Before we see any of these plants available at the retail level, they are subject first to rigorous tests by the breeding companies themselves and then are tested out in real life situations in trial gardens (such as the Georgeson Botanical Garden) all over the United States. Some of these new varieties become old standbys in home gardens; others are literally here this year and gone the next.
In the dark of winter when we are studying colorful plant catalogs making the difficult decisions as to which of the new varieties are deserving of the limited space in our crowded spring greenhouses, all the new varieties look and sound as if we must have them. Plant breeding companies are not just excellent scientists. They are also excellent photographers and sales people!
We learn about the new introductions when we grow them in the greenhouse. We learn more about them if we get a chance to we grow them in our gardens, but we also learn a lot about them through feedback from our customers who grow them. It is this last source of information that we would like to expand and make more timely. Oftentimes we do not get customer feedback until the spring after our customers bought the plant, and by that time we have already made the bad or good decision to grow it or to not grow it again.
The Plan: This spring we will be carrying two new plants that we would like to have some of our customers help us trial. We will have at least twenty five plugs of each of these varieties that we will give to interested customers on a first some first served basis. In return we ask that the person grow the trial plant in his or her garden (or container) and fill out and return to us an evaluation questionnaire detailing its performance. A few guidelines:
1) Questionnaires need to be returned to The Plant Kingdom in person by September 1, 2022 or via email or mail for arrival by October 1, 2022
2) If the trial plants we offer this season are not ones that you like to grow (how could that be?!), be kind to yourself and the plants and wait until next year to participate…we will try to make next season’s selections very different.
3) This plant trialing opportunity is open to gardeners of all levels…in fact we want gardeners with different levels of expertise. We do ask that participants be diligent about returning their questionnaires, whatever the results. A repeated tendency to grow the trial plant but not return the questionnaire defeats the purpose of the program, and might lead to our asking such a gardener to take a break from the trial program.
4) In order that the maximum number of people may participate, we reserve the option to limit each person to one trial plant per season. If you would like to trial more than one variety, be sure to ask because we may have enough plants to allow you to do that.
5) Each trial plant will be accompanied by a questionnaire to be returned at the end of the growing season…we will have extra copies of these available should the first one get lost before data is entered on it.
The two varieties that we plan to offer our plant trial participants this season are:
Anchusa capensis"Blue angel"- easy to grow ornamental borage. The sandpapery green-leaved basal rosettes give rise to 18" tall stalks in spring, which open to reveal a mass of cobalt blue flowers.
Tomato "Big Beef Plus" - One of the best-loved beefsteaks, now with improved flavor, color, and adaptability. Sweeter than the original, with added TSWV resistance for protection in warmer climates.