What’s in bloom in the Trial Garden right now?

Everyone has heard the phrase “practice makes perfect,” but this saying isn’t often associated with developing a green thumb. At the Arboretum, however, we subscribe to this sentiment wholeheartedly in our Trial Garden.

Started 12 years ago, the Trial Garden is our onsite means of “trial and error.” The garden provides us the information we need to determine what we plant in our main garden displays and what can thrive in our North Texas climate. We also work with local breeding companies, who offer us between 3,000 to 5,000 plants annually in hopes we can provide guidance to home gardeners on their plant selections.

When we’re considering which plant trials to pursue, we start with research, always being sensitive to the volatile Dallas weather conditions that can make gardening a tricky endeavor. We look at industry trends and the Arboretum’s aesthetic and horticultural needs to help us decide what to test in the Trial Garden. For example, we have been “trialing” lots of vegetables leading up to the opening of the “Tasteful Place” exhibit (coming soon!).

But we’re not just amateur trial gardeners here. We have a stamp of approval from All-America Selections, which is an independent, nonprofit organization known for testing new trial varieties and then awarding only the very best garden performers as AAS Winners. We are one of those honorees! As an AAS Winner, we help offer local gardeners reliable ideas for garden varietals through our rigorous trial process.

Now, let’s talk about our favorite recent displays that had roots (literally!) in the Trial Garden. This spring, we saw much success in the Nicotiana “Perfume” series. Zinnias performed well in the garden, as did several cultivars of Begonia. This summer, we have a beautiful strain in Evolvulus “Blue My Mind,” but our favorites keep changing since there are so many unique cultivars coming to bloom.

We are still working with the Vinca strain because we have had lots of heavy rains and mild temperatures this summer. That particular plant is prone to a fungal disease caused by consistently wet soil, but we’re hopeful it can still survive.

Arboretum gardeners are always looking ahead when planting in the Trial Garden, so we have begun considering our fall trials already. Between weeks 45 and 47, we will start planting for fall. In the meantime, we will continue watching our summer strains to see if any of our favorites might add to the overall design in the main garden.

The Trial Garden is always open to the public, and we invite you to make a day of it, checking out our summer strains. For more information on the Trial Garden, click here or contact Jenny Wegley, director of Trials & Greenhouse, at 214-515-6581 or jwegley@dallasarboretum.org.

Now blooming: plants you can expect to see this summer

One of our favorite features of the Arboretum is its aesthetic diversity. Visiting the gardens is a different experience each time you come, and no matter what the season, there’s always something new to see.

Now that summertime is fully underway, some beautiful plants are popping up. Here’s what you can expect to find during your visit, with some varieties just starting to bloom in mid-July:

Lantanas are perennial flowering plants that bloom in all kinds of colors found all over the Arboretum. You also will see Celosia, Gomphrenas, Salvia, Begonias, Pentas, Evolvulus, Vincas, Euphorbias, Angelonias, Caesalpinias and Zinnias.

Though these magnificent plants seem effortlessly gorgeous, there is much thought and preparation that goes into their presence in the garden. Everything we plant for summer must be able to withstand scorching temperatures as well as unpredictable Texas storms. When we consider what to plant, we think about a plant’s nighttime heat tolerance. It may seem like mid-afternoon temps are most damaging to fragile plants, but it’s actually high evening temperatures that can cause plants to stop blooming.

We find that garden maintenance is challenging (yet rewarding) year-round. While there is more pruning and maintenance to be done in the harsh winter months, summer plants require attention and daily nursing in order to thrive.

Of all the flowers and plants we get to see and smell each day, a poll of some of our management staff revealed that we’re partial to Perennial Hibiscus, Salvia, Echinacea, Magnolia and Angel’s Trumpet. One might say we’re fond of perennials.

We invite and encourage you not to miss our summer blooms. And while all our gardens are bursting with beauty, the 6.5-acre Jonsson Color Garden has an open layout and a sweeping expanse of color that makes the perfect backdrop for photos.

Click here to learn more about visiting the Arboretum and experiencing our gardens, planted unique to each season. We’ll see you there!


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