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Annual Flower Research at Bluegrass Lane, Ithaca, New York
Background. 2011 was the eighth year of our "annual" evaluation program. Our goal is to provide valuable information on plants that are currently available, as well as those not yet released. This information is used by the industry to develop better plants for consumers. Better plants mean happier customers, and potentially more sales. You can review pictures and data from previous research in our Archives section. This research effort is headed up by Dr. Bill Miller (firstname.lastname@example.org), Department of Horticulture, Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.
Sponsors. This year we were happy to have seven sponsors, listed below. Interested in becoming a sponsor? Get the details.
Evaluation criteria. We evaluated the plants every two weeks, by at least six people, including a mix of staff members, students and volunteers. Plants are given a 1-5 rating (1=awful, 5=great) on the following attributes:
Evaluations also include written subjective commments and photographs. At the end of the season, we average the numbers across all raters, for all evaluation dates, giving an overall seasonal average. View data in an Excel spreadsheet. Photographs are compiled into a timeline of performance throughout the season. View the 2011 Gallery.
In 2011, we trialed "combos," or combinations of plants. Breeding companies have taken the guesswork out of deciding which flowers make beautiful combinations for your garden and containers! These combos help instill confidence in gardeners by pre-selecting flowers that work well together. Two or three plants are grown together, giving a blended look. They have similar growing requirements and may feature complementary colors or themes. Examples include: hot colors featuring reds, oranges and yellows; nautical themes of blues; or the patriotic red, white and blue. This is a hugely popular trend, with each breeding company having their own line of designer combinations.
Maintenance. Seed, plugs, or rooted cuttings were grown in 4-inch pots in the spring, and transplanted at the Bluegrass Lane Research site in late June. (Planting was delayed this year due to wet conditions.) Maintenance was minimal (mulching, weeding and some grooming). Fertilizer was applied as a dry feed in mid-June (Osmocote). Irrigation was via subirrigation.
Weather. Ithaca is located in Zone 5a-b. We had a very wet spring, receiving double our average rainfall in both April and May. Summer's temperatures were close to normal. June's average was 66.1F, July's was 71.9F, and August's was 67.5F. Rainfall amounts were 2.59 inches, 1.99 inches and 4.63 inches, respectively. Additional weather information can be found at The Ithaca Climate Page.
Thanks. Thanks are expressed to the breeding and supply companies who provided plant materials and financial support for these trials. These trials would not have been possible without the great efforts of Eric Shatt, JC Mosher and Louise Gray of Cornell's Bluegrass Lane Turf and Landscape Research Center, my Trial Garden Coordinator Melissa Kitchen, undergraduate students Kaylie Ackerley, Ben Sellew and Carl Bucella.
2011 Crew, from L to R: Carl Bucella, Melissa Kitchen, Ben Sellew and Kaylie Ackerley.
Department of Horticulture, 134A Plant Sciences Bldg, Ithaca, NY 14853 USA, email: email@example.com | 607-255-4568/1789 | Fax, 607-255-9998/0599
© 2007 Department of Horticulture, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cornell University