Every year plants are submitted by private breeding companies and grown in trial gardens to gauge performance in specific climates. These trials take place across the country. Plants are grown at the Michigan State University Trial Gardens, and other trial sites in Michigan, to evaluate performance of the plants in a Michigan climate. Plants are evaluated bi-weekly on vigor, uniformity, ornamental value, susceptibility to disease and illness, and tolerance to extremes in climate, like a really hot summer day in Michigan, or a really cold, rainy summer night in Michigan. A summary of the evaluations is published and available at the end of each season.
Hundreds of new varieties are tested in these living laboratories each year including annuals, perennials, and vegetables. It inspires designers and gardeners to explore new varieties and plant combinations.
This is the time of year trial gardens across the country release results. We have received a number of recommendations from a number of trial gardens around the country. I noticed that many of of the pictures forwarded to us were of purple blossoms. So I asked the staff to name their favorite tried-and-true purple plants.
Tried and True
Lilacs! I love all of them and the smell. They remind me of my time up on Mackinac Island where they grow huge and there are so many of them. They also make me happy because I know summer is on its way when I see and smell those blooms. – Lyn Duffy
My favorites would have to be Catmint and Royal Candles Veronica. – Bethany Borchak
Keira Gloor knows her plants and her fellow designers!
“I know Bethany is going to say catmint but I like them for their smell. It’s like a fresh mojito on the beach. One of my all-time favorites is purple smoke baptistia (False Indigo) I like it for its trifoliate leaf and shrubby perennial form. Gayfeather (or Blazing star) is another cool one for its flower and grass-like foliage.” Keira also mentioned Rozanne Geranium because they bloom all summer long and create a blanketing effect similar to a ground cover.
Globemaster Allium is another great one, picked by both Keira and Lynn Cavanaugh. I love Keira’s reason: Says Keira, “Perfect for children’s gardens as they look like they are from the land of Dr. Seuss.”
Sherrie Mallon’s favorite purple bushes are Buddleia, butterfly bush. “I just love seeing butterfly’s in the garden. They also come in other colors and shades of purple. I also like the Iris Gerald Darby not only is the flower purple but the foliage is purple too.”
Another vote for Iris came from Cathy VanCamp who also picks Lavender.
These are the tried and true favorites, but you can check out the results of the Michigan State Trial Gardens here.
Would you like something tried-and-true or something new? We are working designs for 2019 right now. Let’s meet to start something new for you!