New perennials on trial at CSU garden

In addition to its annual flower trials, CSU has three garden beds devoted to testing new perennial plants.

csu-perennial-trials-blogAcross the street from CSU’s Annual Flower Trial Garden are three beds for testing new perennial plants. Perennials undergo two years of testing and include cultivars that have been introduced within the last three years.

The top performers from the 2007-2008 perennial trials are available now.

Plants being tested in the gardens include one bed of Achillea, Geranium, Lavendula and Pulmonaria; a second bed of Heuchera and Salvia; and a third bed of Achillea, Coreopsis, Echninacea, Euphorbia and Gaillardia.

Seeing all the different varieties of Coreopsis gave me the idea to create a bed in my yard featuring only tickseed plants like Coreopsis ‘Red Shift’, ‘Full Moon’, ‘Sienna Sunset’, and ‘Big Bang Galaxy’. With all the different flower colors and plant sizes I think it would make an interesting and beautiful new garden.

That’s just one reason to visit the perennial trial garden (1401 Remington St., Ft. Collins, Colo.) Seeing all of these perennials lined up together shows off their qualities and lets a gardener evaluate them side-by-side.

Some plants from warm-winter zones, like Leonotis menthifolia ‘Savannah Sunset’ and Santolina ‘Lemon Fizz’, are being tested for their hardiness in our Zone 5 climate.  Others are evaluated for their sun requirements, bloom times, drought tolerance, and soil needs.

There are so many perennials that it’s easy for gardeners to find something that suits their plant taste or color pallette. Something dramatic, like the Heuchera ‘Blackout’ and its black foliage will appeal to one gardener, while others like Geranium ‘Blue Sunrise’ are much more appealing to  gardeners like me.csu-perennial-trials2-blog1

The leaves of ‘Blue Sunrise’ have hints of orange which turn to a vivid chartresuse. The fabulous foliage color contrasts beautifully with the blue-violet flowers.

I also liked the Achillea ‘Strawberry Seduction.’ This yarrow boasts strawberry-colored blooms on dark green foliage. The stems look sturdy enough for floral arrangements and the plant demonstrates good heat and drought tolerance.

The day I toured the gardens was a hot one and there wasn’t any shade or cloud cover. When the sprinklers unexpectedly switched on, it was a welcome surprise to plants and people alike.


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I purchased a 4′ plant in a pot in Oregon this summer. I live in Tacoma, WA. It has done well in the ground so far. Last year I had two in the same area that didn’t make it through the winter. Do I dig this up and repot it for winter? Do I prune it now in fall? I love it and don’t want to lose it again.

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