Sunday, March 27, 2011

Visiting a trial garden

Last week, I had an opportunity to visit Costa Farms' annuals trial garden, located some 25 miles south of downtown Miami in the Redland agricultural area. As the name suggests, the garden tests new introductions for wholesale growers, and these introductions are reviewed by a panel of judges.

There's a formal landscaped garden simply bursting with color, but the trialed plants are in long rows, either in the open or under shade cloth.

It was a picture perfect day so I'll just post a bunch of photos of views and plants I particularly liked.

These are rows of open plantings. The formal garden is laid out around the viewing platform in the background.

The trial garden is entered via this pergola ...

... and then you are greeted by two stunning planters of Calibrachoa 'Can Can Terracotta' (Ball Horticultural Co.)

The next three photos are of the formal garden.

I was so much reminded of Bath, my home in England, which, aside from the Roman baths and the Georgian architecture, is famous for its summer flower plantings and displays.

I forgot to note the name of this Osteospermum, but don't you love the color?

These yummy petunias are "Pink Star."

Tiny, tiny petunias. Named Littletunia "Sweet Pink."

Or, if you want a little more drama, this one is Littletunia "Bicolor Illusion."

I was wowed by these hollyhocks (Alcea rosea annua), which, not surprisingly, turned out to be award-winning. This one is named Spring Celebrities "Crimson." Below is the white version. Oooh, do I want to get some of these!

Like the hollyhocks, this curious little pepper (Capsicum annuum) above, is grown under shade cloth. It's named Mambo "Mixture."

Here's another delicious white plant, also grown under shade:

This is Iberis, commonly known as "candytuft." This one is named "Masterpiece." It's a brassica, therefore closely related to things more usually found in the veggie garden.

Back out in the open rows, this primula wasn't looking happy.

But the label said it was grown from seed and was in week 50, so I suppose it can be forgiven for looking sad. The label also said this is Primula elatior, the true oxlip, but it looks more like a primrose to me. Either way, these grow wild in England and are not tropical.

Here's an artemisia (I don't know which one, but it may be wormwood), a plant I've not seen grown here before. I used this in my garden in England because of its very useful silvery foliage.

This one has the lyrical name, "Parfum d'Ethiopia,"

I think the plant below is Lobelia erinus; the label just says "Lobelia," and is apparently "experimental."  L. erinus appears to have become bigger; the ones I'm familiar with are much more compact.
Lobelia is a wonderful plant to use in containers and hanging baskets, especially the trailing varieties. It looks spectacular next to yellow marigolds. I've grown it from seed, with mixed results. The seeds are miniscule, more like bits of dust, but it's always worth the effort.

Here's a delightful little yellow annual, Sanvitalia, Sunvy "Super Gold."

I'm not familiar with any of the species, but I know I want some!

Back to blue: The verbena below is grown by Proven Winners, so it should turn up in Home Depot, at least in South Florida; I will certainly be looking out for it.

This one has been named Superba "Royale Chambray."

My final photo is of Diascia, which I don't see grown down here. It's another annual I've grown from seed, and deserves broader attention. It's a lovely container plant.


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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Trouble ahead: Lubbers

Taking the dogs for a walk to the nearby pocket park, I noticed this horrible sight: hundreds and hundreds of lubber nymphs. I've never seen them clustered in such large numbers before, so I guess for those of us in Florida, we're in for another bad year.

Now is the time to check your garden for the nymphs because they tend to cluster together and are susceptible to Sevin or other insecticides. As they get bigger, they disperse and are immune to everything but being squashed.