Summer can truly be a trial at The Trial Gardens at UGA in Athens, Georgia

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“If you want to see a trial garden in Georgia, come in July and August –  that’s when the plants are really tested.” I’ve heard Allan Armitage say that more than once, so during a lunch break at a writer’s conference I walked the couple blocks to see what the Trial Garden at UGA looked like. It was full, full sun at 1:00 and the thermometer said HOT! but a few plants surprised me. Actually, most of the plants looked good. Keep in mind, these plants are being trialed (some already on the market), but they had to pass a lot of tests to get to this point. Now the best of the best are growing side by side to see which really can take the heat and humidity. The calibrochoas were all impressive in baskets, as they are on my deck. The rudbeckias looked good, especially the annual ‘Prairie Sun’. Angelonia was thriving. The geraniums and gallardias looked healthy and full of buds, but looked like plants that needed constant deadheading to really look sharp. Heucheras were both good and not so good, depending on the variety. The pulmonarias were impressive, except for one that was in full sun at 1:30.
Surprises? Caladiums, which seemed to taken a back seat to other shade plants, but, oh my, can they perform – both in my garden and at the trial garden, which were trialing the bulbs for I never want my shade garden to be without caladiums again after seeing how they have handled this summer; you can bet I am going to check out that website. Another surprise was papyrus, known as a water plant. Two specimens in containers looked great. At the Perennial Plant Symposium in Atlanta this week, Dottie Myers commented that a papyrus in a container was her dad’s favorite plant in his garden.
But what looked great that you can get now? Many of the perennials there are available and one fun workhorse is Rudbeckia ‘Henry Eilers’, which has tubular petals that create a fun, sculptural flower in your garden on a taller, perennial plant. ‘Georgia Peach’ heuchera looked good and who can resist that name and the peachy-caramel color? If you are in the Athens area, check out the garden on campus or any botanical garden or garden center. The true performers will stand out, so take notes on what you want to add to your garden for next summer’s display. 

Loves Notes from the Garden

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