It was a plant geek's version of a marathon. My neighbor, friend, and partner in all things seriously-garden-related, Lesley, and I were scoping out the four acres of more than 3,000 plants displayed at C. Raker & Sons in Litchfield, Michigan. We baked in the hot sun as our heads spun nearly 360 and our feet carried us along the grassy paths through a crazy quilt of color.
|Mandevilla 'Heatwave' offered up plenty of buds and flowers in a|
|Hemizyga 'Candy Kisses' looks great even without the pink flowers|
that bloom late summer through fall.
|Nemesia 'Honey Metallic Blue' offers a color that could go a|
long way toward cooling down hot colors.
|Nemesia Seventh Heaven 'Raspberry'|
One of the best things about visiting a trial garden is to see how plants do during the hottest, and typically the driest, time of year. At Raker, there are field trials in which plants are planted in rows in the ground, hanging basket trials and container trials. There are also sponsored beds, which feature displays of each sponsor's plants. This year, there are 32 companies from all over the world that sponsor a display bed.
According to Greg Michalak, Trial Gardens Director for Raker, plants in the trial beds are fed and watered. "For our sponsored beds we give them the conditions recommended by the breeder," he explained. It's a different story in the comparison trial areas. "If we do something to one plant in the comparison trials, we have to do it to all of them."
|Scabiosa 'Gelato Blueberry' looked amazing growing in a |
large container. Wouldn't it look good with white Lobularia?
|Stachys 'Bello Grigio' goes with everything. Imagine it at dusk, |
planted with white lilies.
When Impatiens walleriana came down with Impatiens downy mildew, it was probably the best thing that could happen to Torenia, a colorful shade-loving flower, also known as wishbone flower, with plenty of pizazz. Although it typically doesn't smother itself in flowers like Impatiens will, Torenia brings some yellow into the shade-garden department.
And in "speaking of which" category... At first glance, it looked something like a Torenia. But the bright crimson flower also had freckles.
It's a cross between Torenia and Mimulus - or what do you get when you cross a monkey with a wishbone? Why, a Torelus, of course! This new genus is said to do as well in sun as in part sun, which, when you think about it, is more than you can ask of many annual flowers. If you look closely at these little beauties, you'll see the freckles left from its monkey flower genetics.
|Torelus in a trial bed.|