2020 Garden Trials

Each year TERRA NOVA® Nurseries places many of its new introductions into trial gardens throughout the world. We receive great feedback on the performance, popularity and survivability across many different growing conditions. Trialing in multiple locations also provides an excellent opportunity for both industry professionals and avid home gardeners to see brand new items up close in person. This is a perfect way to build excitement for new products and help with getting them into grower programs and retail locations large and small. Below you will find highlights from this past year:

USDA Plant Hardiness Map

Costa Farms (10B) – Miami, FL (Hot, Tropical)

This year we had many of our Agastache (part of ThinkPlants) featured at the Costa Farms showcase. The POQUITO® Collection did outstanding in the heat, with the Butter Yellow and Orange varieties filling out well in their characteristic heavy flowering ball shape. The newest of the series, Agastache ‘Kudos Red’ shows great color and vigor. Many items fade in the tropical environment, but this hummingbird mint holds its true red color well.

Mississippi State University (8B) – Starkville, MS (Hot, Humid)

The central Mississippi site gives us great feedback on the ability of our items to perform in the deep south where they consistently have warmer days and nights. We are always impressed with how many items that are top performers in the Pacific Northwest show us their full potential in trials like this one. Top performing items were – Artemisia MAKANA™ Silver, which they are able to trial as a perennial, and our Sedum ‘Peach Pearls’ described in the trial report as ‘developing attractive peach flowers in the late summer, but it also having thick, red/green leaves throughout the growing season.

Smith Gardens (8B) – Marysville, WA (Cold, Wet)

Due to the restrictive year we faced, this was the only trial site we were able to observe in person and it was a great year to do so! We received high marks for Best Pollinator-Friendly Perennial with our Agastache POQUITO® Collection. From the trial manager… “Bees love Agastache and the POQUITO® are no exception. TERRA NOVA® created a basket concept with their POQUITO® line and we were loving them this year in the garden. Plants were well-branched, easy to care for, and bees were all over the continuous flush of flower.”

Other standouts were the Geum TEMPO™ Rose, Heucherella ‘Peach Tea’ and the just plain cute Verbascum ‘Dark Eyes’ pictured below.

Young’s Plant Farm (8A) – Auburn, AL (Humid, Subtropical)

Many of our newest annuals were trialed last year at the Young’s Plant Farm location. We love to see the size and vigor of many of our fall themed colorful coleus. We have also received several mentions and great feedback on our Plectranthus, the ‘Velvet Lady’ in particular was praised for its early, heavy, and continued flowering.

University of Georgia (8A) – Athens, GA (Warm, Humid)

Unfortunately, with limited students many educational trial sites had slightly limited reporting and awards in 2020. UGA did not release its typical ‘Best of the Best’ but we were thrilled with a ‘Classic City Award’ going to our Echinacea KISMET® ‘White’.

“One of the more important factors when selecting plants for the Southeast is that they last the whole season. Investing in plants that don’t survive the summer season is not what consumers are interested in for their gardens. This medium-sized KISMET® ‘White’ tics the box on long-lasting color. Being the first Echinacea to bloom, it in turn also was the first cultivar to be in full bloom, and it happens to be outlasting others that started blooming later. TERRA NOVA® has struck a chord with this coneflower, and another facet of this cultivar is that the white flowers are fading very well. It is common for white flowering plants to fade to brown very quickly and the longevity of the flowering period to be short. Still, these are trending in the other direction by keeping their color and interest longer.”

Other high scoring performers were:

Heucherella ‘Peach Tea’ (4.58 / 5)
Echinacea KISMET® ‘Intense Orange’ (4.25 / 5)

Mt. Cuba Center (7A) – Wilmington, DE (Variety Trials)

The Mt. Cuba trial site is the most unique of all trials we participate in. instead of breeders submitting new items each year Mt. Cuba chooses a plant commonly available in horticulture and requests samples of that one items from sources. This year they took a deep dive into Echinacea, providing the most complete overview of cultivars on the market. We strongly encourage you to read and review the report for yourself but the key points on TERRA NOVA® items were:

Echinacea ‘Glowing Dream’ – “A profusion of luminous flowers is held well above the foliage for six weeks in mid-June to mid-July, establishing ‘Glowing Dream’ as one of the longest blooming nondouble Echinacea in our trial. ‘Glowing Dream’ was also one of the most visited coneflowers in our pollinator study.”

Echinacea KISMET® ‘Raspberry’ – “Echinacea KISMET® ‘Raspberry’ was a standout in the trial thanks to its strong vigor, saturated color, and oversized blooms.”

Echinacea ‘Fragrant Angel’ (5 star rating each) – “‘Fragrant Angel’ is also popular with bees, wasps, and butterflies. In fact, this cultivar averaged the most pollinator visits, including the most butterfly visits of any coneflower in our trial between 2018 and 2019.”

North Carolina State University (JC Raulston) (7B) – Raleigh, NC (Warm, Humid)

Another university that rose to the occasion this year was NCSU, who sent out weekly garden highlights to keep all informed on the progressing trials.

Penn State Extension (6B) – State College, PA (Cool, Wet)

We are often thrilled with the performance of our items in this cool, wet east coast environment. Many TERRA NOVA® customers find it much easier to visit this location each year than to come see us in person and we are very thankful for the opportunity. Many items were top performers this year, here are the best:

Penstemon DAKOTA™ Verde & Penstemon DAKOTA™ Burgundy (4.77 / 5) – Best of species & director’s select
Heuchera NORTHERN EXPOSURE™ Black (4.65 / 5) – Director’s select
Echinacea CARA MIA™ ‘Yellow’ (4.59 / 5) – Best of Species
Geum TEMPO™ Yellow (4.62 / 5) – Best of Species & director’s select
Heuchera GRANDE™ Amethyst (4.75 / 5) & Heuchera GRANDE™ Black (4.71 / 5) – Director’s select

Colorado State University (5B) – Ft. Collins, CO (Cold, Dry, High Light)

Sometimes the trial garden says it all for us and we need not say more – here are the descriptions of our perennial ‘Top Performer’ for 2020.

Penstemon DAKOTA™ Burgundy (Penstemon digitalis) from TERRA NOVA® Nurseries… “Dark burgundy foliage was a key reason for the superior rating. Multiple shades of burgundy added interest to the dark foliage and help make the white/lavender flower color really stand out. Blooms are very prolific with a long flowering period. It was noted that although the flowers are very impressive, the plant looks very showy even when not in flower due to the attractive dark foliage that remained clean all season and never had got “floppy ear.” Plants were very reliable and had 100% survival over three seasons.”

Raker-Roberta’s Young Plants (5B) – Litchfield, MI (Cold, Wet)

We are very fortunate in that many wonderful friends in the industry send us photos and feedback when they see TERRA NOVA® items doing well across the country. We placed many items at this Michigan trial site close to so many great greenhouse growers and had great results. The new Centaurea ‘Snowy Owl’ received (4.7 / 5). The industry standards Kniphofia ‘Mango Popsicle’ received (4.7 / 5) and Agastache ‘Blue Boa’ received (4.5 / 5).

We also are thrilled with these images of the Begonia COCOA™ Series that just got better throughout the season!

Begonia COCOA™ 'Enchanted Moonlight'

Begonia COCOA™ ‘Enchanted Moonlight’
(Photo courtesy of Vaughn Fletcher)

Begonia COCOA™ 'Enchanted Evening'

Begonia COCOA™ ‘Enchanted Evening’
(Photo courtesy of Vaughn Fletcher)

Begonia COCOA™ 'Enchanted Sunrise'

Begonia COCOA™ ‘Enchanted Sunrise’
(Photo courtesy of Vaughn Fletcher)

Michigan State University (5B) – East Lansing, MI (Cold, Wet)

This is a trial site we just got started sending plants and in the 2 years we have been trialing here we received some of the best feedback of all. We are very thankful to have this education trial so well placed near many large wholesale greenhouses. The volume of wonderful photography provided has painted such a clear picture of plant growth and condition.

15/21 TERRA NOVA® plants in trial are over 4/5 – our top 5 results

Heuchera GRANDE™ Amethyst (5 / 5)
Heucherella ‘Peach Tea’ (4.96 / 5)
Heuchera GRANDE™ Black (4.93 / 5)
Heuchera NORTHERN EXPOSURE™ Sienna (4.82 / 5)
Heuchera NORTHERN EXPOSURE™ Silver (4.82 / 5)

Plantpeddler (4B) – Cresco, IA (Annual Trial)

The Plantpeddler trial lists its top choices and what they place in catalog while providing trial images for the breeders. Our Coleus TERRA NOVA® ‘Marrakesh’ and Coleus WILDFIRE™ ‘Smoky Rose’ were in catalog choices and the images of Agastache POQUITO® ‘Orange’, Coleus NOVA® ‘Roly-Poly’ and Coleus TERRA NOVA® ‘Pumpkin Spiced’ were too eye-catching not to share.

University of Minnesota (4B) – Morris, MN (Cold, Wet)

University of Minnesota