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New Trial Garden at Mt. Cuba Center Eliminates the Guesswork
by George Coombs, Assistant Research Horticulturist at Mt Cuba Center - posted 7/9/2012
New Garden | New Cultivars | New Choices
New Trial Garden at Mt. Cuba Center
After two years of planning and construction, our new Trial Garden is on task to fulfill Mt. Cuba Center's promise – to identify the best native plants for the mid-Atlantic area.
The garden is now ready to take on the challenges of trialing sun- as well as shade-loving native plants. In our sunny area, experience the world of Coreopsis and Baptisia. In the shade, we have amassed a collection of Heuchera. Our goal is to determine which cultivars perform best in hot, humid summers and unpredictable winters. In addition to our sun and shade evaluations, we are also excited about our ability to trial vines on our new fence-mounted trellises. Several different species of Clematis, and other native vines, are being evaluated for their potential garden worthiness.
Walking into any garden center today can be an overwhelming experience. Even the most avid gardener has trouble choosing among plants like Coreopsis and Heuchera. At Mt. Cuba Center, we are eliminating the guess work. All plants are trialed side-by-side and evaluated based on their habit, flower color, size and quantity, bloom time, vigor, and hardiness. At any given moment, you can see how the copper-colored Heuchera perform against the plum-colored ones or which Coreopsis is most resistant to powdery mildew.
Our research staff has worked with various nurseries and breeders to come up with a comprehensive trial that includes new as well as tried-and-true selections. They are all given an equal opportunity to thrive, but only a few will be truly exceptional.
New is exciting. The gardening world is always looking for new choices. The public is looking for new choices to outshine their neighbors. Professional designers are looking for new choices for their increasingly trendy clients. The nursery industry is looking for new choices so they can be more profitable. Everyone wants to know how best to spend their hard earned dollars. All they need is the right information.
As a non-profit public garden, our mission is to share this information. The results are based on observations made by our skilled staff over a 3-year period. In addition to our staff ratings, we have launched a visitor survey that allows everyone visiting Mt. Cuba Center to vote for their favorite trial plants. Think of it as free market research.
The greatest part about the Trial Garden is that you can come and see it!
Arrangements can be made for future visits by contacting Mt. Cuba Center.
For a pdf of this release, please see Greater Philadelphia Gardens Press Releases