Here is Part 2 of on our visit to the California Spring Trials. 

Edibles – with the increase emphasis on healthy living, there were some breeders seeking to improve old favorites. For example, Burpee has a new pea, called Pea Masterpiece, whose parsley-like tendrils can be used as garnish. The entire plant is pretty much edible from tendril to pea to pod. There was a new variety of Cabbage, called Heavy Metal Cabbage, which put a unique and colorful twist on Chinese cabbage. The cabbage’s color becomes a more vibrant red tone in cooler temperatures, so you crop becomes even more beautiful as the season progresses. We also saw new varieties of herbs that appeared like they would taste as pretty as they looked. One of our favorites was Bambino Purple Basil, which work equally well in a container as it would in your herb garden.  

Combinations – There will be more beautiful container combination plants to choose from next year. Words can’t describe how incredible these floral mixtures looked.  One of my favorites was the Night Watch (Bidens Namid Special Yellow, Petunia Starlet Velvet, and Verbena Blues Red).

A new trend in this area is the addition of perennials to these combinations. These are a little harder to create as with all combinations you have to make sure the bloom times work together. The one we liked the best was Boogie Blues (Delphinium Blue Mirror, Stipa Ponytails, Gaillardia Mesa Peach, and Viola Halo Lilac).

Perhaps, the most interesting thing to see was an entire area dedicated to showing different combinations they are testing. In creating these combinations, breeders need to see which plants grow together well in terms of bloom time and how can they extend the bloom times. Some of the more interesting mixes of plants were ornamental grass and flowers like marigold and petunias mixed with herbs and vegetables.

Other noteworthy observations were:

Celosia: There will two new Celosia varieties next year. These bold, bright colored twisted flowers look great in a flower border or in a container. 

Ornamental Pepper: These peppers were introduced to add a burst of color to your Fall garden. The Hot Pops Purple Ornament Pepper, looks great combined with mums. The Sedona Sun Ornament Pepper has masses of lemon yellow and carrot orange fruit. With both of these plants the fruit is very hot.

Strawberries: Several breeders showed different varieties. One was called Sweet Kiss. This strawberry will yield large, dark red fruit from June until frost. The other was called Strawberry Kiss. This strawberry has carmine pink blooms and has conical, mid-size fruits through the whole summer.

Color: Bright, bold colors are making a comeback. This was evident with the Double Zahara Brilliant Zinnia Mixture available in Yellow, Cherry and Fire. There were also many new red flowers. My favorites were the Mesa Red Gaillardia, Cherry Red Mirage Salvia, and the Lucky Red Lantana. The colors of the New ColorRush Petunias were made to hold up in the heat and rain. The blue and pink star were bright, bold and beautiful.

Finally, there will be the easy to grow, Gerbera Revolution Series for new gardeners. These flowers come in bright solid colors and are also bicolor. They work well as outdoor or indoor plants and also make great gift items.

We certainly have a lot to look forward to next season! If you have any questions, leave us comments or post something on our Facebook page!

Photos courtesy of Jill Mazur and Ball Seeds.

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