Over the last three decades, the Trial Gardens at the University of Georgia have introduced home gardeners and landscape designers to thousands of new plant varieties.
Every year at the Trial Gardens’ open house, visitors have the chance to get an up-close look at a new class of vetted ornamentals ranging from gorgeous flowers and spectacular roses to hardy bulbs.
As the gardens’ staff prepares to welcome the public to the 30th annual open house on July 14 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., hundreds of new plants will be on display, and a special wine and cheese preview event from 7 to 9 p.m. on July 13.
“We enjoy sharing the beauty of the garden and highlighting some of the new plants that people can plant in their gardens,” said Allan Armitage, a UGA horticulture professor and the gardens’ founder. “After all, where is it written that research has to be ugly?”
Located on the UGA campus in Athens between Snelling Dining Hall and the pharmacy building, the gardens display hundreds of annuals and perennials from plant breeders around the world.
The garden is always open to the public free of charge, but the open house gives visitors a chance to learn inside knowledge about this year’s most promising plant varieties.
Dozens of new rose varieties that will hit the market next year will be on display. Vegetables designed for the patio and porch will also be highlighted and include squash, peppers, tomatoes and eggplant.
Armitage, who directs the gardens, will give tours throughout the day. He will also hold a book signing, and his recent titles will be on sale.
The open house will include an heirloom tomato tasting, featuring 17 varieties of tomatoes grown in the trial gardens this summer. This year the staff ran trials on heirloom and new patio variety tomatoes, said B.J. Garrett, open house coordinator and garden volunteer.
The tomato tasting, she said, is really the best way to let gardeners get to know a tomato variety and decide whether they want to plant it next year.
Planters designed by the gardens’ staff will also be available for sale.
The open house will be held rain or shine, and a donation of $5 is requested.
The preview event, a Summer Evening in the Gardens, will feature wine and cheese, tours of the garden with Armitage, first pick of plants that are available for sale and cooler weather.
Admission to this event is $5, and there are a limited number of spaces available. A space can be reserved by emailing email@example.com or by calling Brooke Pridemore at 770-364-3089.
Parking is available in the South Campus parking deck. The Trial Gardens are located at 220 W. Green St., Athens, Ga. 30602. For more information, see ugatrial.hort.uga.edu or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Merritt Melancon is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)
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.Download Image