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The Trial Gardens at UGA to host public open house on July 9 By Merritt Melancon

Each year the Trial Gardens at the University of Georgia tests hundreds of new ornamental plants before they reach local garden centers.

Each year at the Trial Gardens’ open house, visitors get an up-close view of a new showcase of ornamentals, ranging from vibrantly colored flowers to hardy shrubs. The public is invited to see these new plants in action at the gardens' annual open house from 9 a.m. to noon, Saturday, July 9.

Last summer the garden staff renovated many 30-year-old garden beds and hanging structures, so this will be a great chance to see those improvements, said John Ruter, professor of horticulture in the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and director of the Trial Gardens at UGA.

Many of the newest perennials, annuals and show-stopping roses will be in full bloom during the open house. Located on the main UGA campus between Snelling Dining Commons and the R.C. Wilson Pharmacy Building, the lush oasis displays hundreds of annuals and perennials from plant breeders around the world.

“The Trial Gardens at UGA are one the best kept secrets in northeast Georgia," said Ruter. "Our annual open house is our chance to share one of the most beautiful parts of the UGA campus with the community and share some of what we've learned over our last year gardening."

The gardens are always open to the public, but the open house is an opportunity for visitors to get exclusive knowledge about this year’s most promising plant varieties. Ruter will lead tours throughout the morning, showcasing some of the gardens’ latest additions.

He will also be signing copies of his newest book, “Landscaping with Conifers and Ginkgo for the Southeast.” Copies of the book will be available for purchase at the open house.

Plant nurseries and breeding companies send hundreds of new plants each year and fund the gardens by paying to have their plants evaluated.

The goal of the Trial Gardens is to see if the plants can survive in the Southeast’s hot and rainfall-variable climate. The funds go toward the gardens’ upkeep and the team of students who work to keep the gardens running.

The Trial Gardens also serve as a teaching and research facility for the UGA Department of Horticulture and other academic departments on campus.

The open house will be held rain or shine. The gardens' staff requests a $5 donation to help offset the cost of the event and support the gardens, located at 220 West Green St., Athens, Georgia.

Parking will be available in the McPhaul Child Development Building parking lot, across from Stegeman Coliseum. Additional parking can be found in the South Campus parking deck. For more information, visit ugatrial.hort.uga.edu, email trial-gardens@uga.edu or call Juliet Swanson at 770-298-9151.

(Merritt Melancon is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

Trial Gardens
Trial Gardens

A nursery grower examines plants growing at the Trial Gardens at UGA. The gardens will hold a public open house July 9.

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A nursery grower examines plants growing at the Trial Gardens at UGA. The gardens will hold a public open house July 9. Download Image
The Trial Gardens at UGA
The Trial Gardens at UGA

A crowd browses the Trial Gardens at UGA at an industry open house earlier this summer. The gardens are expected to be in full bloom for the public open house on July 9.

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