CO-Horts Blog

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Making the Grade: CSU's Annual Trial Garden Evaluation Day

Posted by:  Amy Lentz, Weld County Extension

If you have yet to visit Colorado State University's Annual Flower Trial Garden, you must put it on your lists of things to do! This is a garden that is truly like no other place in Colorado, where research and education meet beauty and community. The mission of the garden is to provide education, research and outreach to students, community members, industry professionals and anyone who wants to learn about how various landscaping plants grow in our unique Rocky Mountain environmental conditions. And while accomplishing that mission, the garden is also a favorite place for lounging, meeting up with family and friends or leisurely strolling through on your way around campus. 
Sun beds of petunias and other annual flowers near the gazebo at the CSU Annual Flower Trial Garden
Earlier this week, over 100 selected industry representatives, staff, faculty and Colorado Master Gardeners from the front range gathered at the Annual Flower Trial Garden to evaluate this year's entries. There were over 800 plant varieties to evaluate for 2017 that were sourced from 19 different companies; including annuals, perennials, patio-type vegetables and novelty varieties. Those evaluating were asked to rate the plants and remark on various traits such as plant vigor, uniformity, flower color and number, unique flower traits, tolerance to environmental conditions and susceptibility to disease. 

Evaluations of sun-loving annuals

Each person involved was given a section of the garden to judge which included approximately 200 of the 800 entries located in both sunny and shady bedding sites, as well as, plants grown in large containers. This year, participants could log their results electronically with a smartphone or tablet by using a website tailored toward each person's list of plants. If I might interject my personal opinion here..the website worked seamlessly and was super easy to use! I love seeing new ways that we can use technology in the garden! 

Evaluations of container grown plants in full sun

Kudos to the students, staff, and faculty who coordinate and maintain the's simply amazing! It makes it hard to scrutinize the flowers when they look so beautiful!
Once the data is tabulated from the day's event, a summary of the results will be published in a Garden Performance Report that will be available for use by the horticulture industry and the public.

If you are interested in learning more about the Annual Flower Trial Garden or view the results from years past, the website can be found here:

The Annual Flower Trial Garden is located at 1401 Remington Street in Fort Collins, Colorado (80523) on CSU's campus.


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