Saturday, September 02, 2006

Put to the test

All those for whom the mere mention of bedding annuals is enough to bring on a shudder of nausea: stop reading here.

For the rest of you, here’s my annual report on the test gardens at the Erie Basin Marina. With lovely surroundings that include this—

—the test gardens are always worth a visit toward the end of the summer. They are maintained by a very nice gentleman, Stan Swisher, who supervises test beds of annuals being introduced by various companies, such as Ball, Proven Winners, Goldsmith, and others. I’ve had the pleasure of pouring Stan a glass of wine or two at the Garden Walk rally (the gardens are cited on the map) and he’s tried to explain to me how the testing works and why I never seem to see any of these plants in local nurseries the next spring. I’m still not sure I understand, but no matter. It’s fun to check them out, even if I can’t actually have any of the plants.

This is a heliotrope, Scentropia Silver (Proven Winners). It has a similar habit to my white heliotrope, which I find to be much more successful that the dark blue ones.

There are always fabulous coleus here—well, when are coleus not fabulous? These are Pistachio Nightmare and Florida Sun Lava (Proven Winners).

And this is Wine Country.

I’m always surprised by the annual vincas—I have never seen these for sale and they ‘d be so useful if they take shade, as the perennial vinca does. Are they real vinca? Gecko, would you know? These are from Goldsmith—very eye-catching, I thought.

Always a sucker for diascia, I hope I can order this red variety, shown here with Roseglow lantana.

It was a lovely walk down there, and I also took note of some splendid front perennial gardens, which I’ll save for another blog. Sadly, all the zinnias at the test gardens were well and truly mildewed.


trey said...

They are Vinca rosea. They are somewhat popular here. While they are related to vinca major they are annuals. We usually sell them through the summer in jumbo packs and four inch pot’s. They do best in sun or part sun here. People often confuse them with impatiens. “Do you have those impatiens that grow in the sun?”

I am starting to get tired of “oh, those are annuals, I want the one’s that come back every year.” People have been conditioned to ask for perennials since “I don’t want to have to plant them every year.” Even though many annuals will reseed and return year after year.

We are going to carry Annie’ Annuals next season if I can get her to deliver here. I think annuals may be making a comeback as places like Annie’s show how cool they are, and people see the huge amount of wonderful plants that are contained under the label “annual”.

EAL said...

Ah yes, I have been planning to order from Annie. My favorite is Select Seed. I am always surprised by people who ask about many of my plants and then lose interest when I say they are annuals.

These are people who spend ten times as much time and trouble maintaining their lawns--god forbid they should throw an annual in a pot or the ground and water it.

DennyK said...

Wow, I had no idea that Stan Swisher was still around! Once I saw the rose gardens were gone, I assumed he had gone with them.

I must get down there & try to catch Stan, some time; talking with him was a highlight of my late 'lunch'time walks, over 10 years ago!


Anonymous said...

Vinca rosea? Are you from the 1940s? They are Catharanthus roseus, aka periwinkle. They are not shade-tolerant and love heat, well drained soils and full sun.