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Sunday, April 3, 2011

What's a "Pack Trial?" Glad you asked!

If you've never heard the term "pack trial," no problem. The veteran plant experts and Tagawa Gardens know all about them, and they use that knowledge every spring to help make your Colorado garden the best it can be. Pack trials are special displays of thousands of new and improved plants... mostly annuals, but some perennials. The pack trials that are of the greatest interest to Tagawa's are held every spring in California. And what a show it is! This event is officially called the Spring Trials by the gardening association that organizes it. This year's trials have just wrapped up. Kris and Jere, Tagawa's Annuals and Production Managers, are now back in Colorado... their heads spinning with the names and images of "must have" plants for Tagawa's customers. More than forty plant breeders and growers hosted fellow members of the green industry this year. Jere and Kris picked the crem de la crem to visit during their week-long stay to see which new plants and planting ideas showed the most promise for Colorado gardens. Here are some things to look for, either this growing season or next. Both of our experts were impressed with a new tomato called "Tomaccio." Kris says it's a sweet raisin tomato with an intense sugary flavor. It can be picked fresh or left to dry on the vine. Wow! Even if the plants aren't available for this summer's garden, Kris hopes to have some samples of the fruit for "show and tell" during Tagawa's "Tomatopalooza" in late summer. I can't wait! Also impressive: a new pink poinsettia. "Big deal" you say? Well listen to this. The grower offering this poinsettia is hoping to see these pretty pink plants used at baby showers, wedding showers and in mixed containers. Stay tuned! Both Jere and Kris give a "hats off" to Proven Winners, an on-going favorite of Tagawa customers. Proven Winners is working on some new colors for their Callibrachoa Superbells, including a plant called "Cherry Star." The flowers are a dark cherry-pink with yellow stars at their center. And more Callie Superbells with names like "Sweet Tart" and "Tequila Sunrise" are in the works. A product you'll definitely be seeing at Tagawa's this spring is called "Wooly Pockets." It's vertical or up-right gardening as you've never seen it before. Wooly Pockets won the "Best of Show" award at last year's Independent Garden Center convention. Tagawa's staff will be happy to show you Wooly Pockets, then it's up to you to let your imagination run wild! Tagawa Gardens works closely with Ball Horticulture, one of the most innovative plant breeders in the country. Ball is always a favorite stop for our crew on their Spring Trials visit. Kris and Jere were both grabbing for their cameras when they saw Ball's garden bed of Osteospermum "3-D." Kris says these African Daisies do, indeed, look three-dimensional! They come in lilac, white and blue, and have large centers with double petals that don't close at night or on cloudy days. These will definitely be a "must have" for African daisy fans. Also this season or next, watch for a new Echinacea or coneflower called "Double Scoop Raspberry." They should be a perennial in Zone 5, which covers much of the front range. The list of great new plants on display at the Spring Trials goes on and on.. a bush-type portulaca or moss rose called "Happy Hour," a new gazania that is a perfect Bronco orange, a large begonia called "The Big Whopper," and a new petunia called "Pink Lemonade." Some of these plants may be available this season. For others, we'll have to wait 'til next year. But rest assured: Jere and Kris and many more plant experts at Tagawa's are always "out there," doing their homework, to make sure our customers can choose from the best and brightest ideas in the world sof gardening.