The Commercial Flower Growers Association of Wisconsinand several other organizations sponsor the trial gardens at the U.W West Madison Research Center in Vernona, WI. This research center trials many different newly developed plants from the farming and horticulture world. UW is a one of the top agricultural plant breeding research institutions in the nation. The flower trials are a rather recent addition to their research but boy do they put the ‘zing’ in things at this research facility! Several acres of beds bursting with colorful flowers are lined out along the main road in front of the center. Plant breeders such as Ball Horticultural, Syngenta, Selecta, The Priaire Nursery, Benary and others donate their newly developed annual and perennial varieties in the form of seeds or vegetative plugs. The CFGA donates money to provide 2 student interns to help plant, maintain and evaluate the trials. Like everything else new plant varieties are extensively marketed but don’t always live up to the marketing hype on the greenhouse bench or once planted in the landscape. Plants that do great in California or Georgia might not fair so well in Wisconsin. Actually Wisconsin and Georgia are fairly similar in having hot, humid summer weather which is great for tropical annuals. It’s the cold , rainy spring, high soil pH and heavy compacted clay soils that make growing conditions in Wisconsin quite different. So on to my favorites of the day!