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 firstname.lastname@example.org.