September 15, 2009
While most people across the GTA remember Aug. 20 as the day tornados struck the area, members of Landscape Ontario remember the day with great pride following the success of the trial gardens’ open house at the Milton home office.

Hosted by LO, Ontario Parks Association (OPA) and the University of Guelph, the day received positive reviews from everyone involved. From the size and quality of the gardens, to the education components and attendance, all were bigger and better this year.

Over 140 visitors from the industry attended the morning session, which was opened by a welcome from executive director of Landscape Ontario, Tony DiGiovanni. He brought the group up-to-date on numerous projects that LO and OPA are working on for the coming year.

The educational component added to the event included presentations by Lorne Haveruk on the new high-efficiency subsurface point-source and landscape dripline irrigation systems, and from Rodger Tschanz and Denis Flanagan on new plant varieties and how to use them in the landscape.

The group then headed outside to view the gardens, receiving more information about the plant material used for the trial gardens and background about the hanging basket competition for municipalities. After touring the gardens, placing their votes and enjoying lunch, industry members headed over to the University of Guelph to view the trial gardens there.

In the afternoon, over 60 members of the public visited and toured the LO gardens. Some of those taking in the gardens were from area horticultural societies, master gardeners and just plain garden lovers.  They were greeted by LO staff members, Denis Flanagan, Sarah Willis and Kathleen Pugliese, Trisha Price of OPA, two Gro-Bark representatives, Keith Osborne and Kerri Stevenson, and Rodger Tschanz, from the University of Guelph.  Many of the visitors expressed hope that the open house will continue next year.

Participants from the industry and public were asked to vote for their favourite plant in the trial gardens, as well as their favourite hanging basket.  

Voting results on hanging baskets

The result of the votes to determine the best hanging basket saw 75 ballots cast from industry and 48 from public. Each basket was designated  an identifying letter of the alphabet, so that when voters cast their ballots, they didn’t know the name of the municipality that created the basket.

Results from industry: With 24 of the 75 votes, City of London (‘F’) won with its creation of the 14-inch Kord Fibre basket, Sunshine Mix, with gel plus #7 soil mixture, Nutricote 14-14-14 and type 10 fertilizer.  The plant material included:  Easy Wave petunia, Tropicana mix, Lime sweet potato vine, Snowstorm Giant Snowflake bacopa and ‘Blue Mountain’ nierembergia.

Results from the public: Receiving 24 of the 48 votes, the Town of Aylmer and Aylmer Garden Centre (‘G’) won with its wire/coco mat/cone with the plastic punctured for drainage, Pro Mix BX and muck soil, and Slow Release/Plantacore 14-9-15+ fertilizer. The plant material included Dragon Wing begonia and springeri fern.

Combined votes of the public and industry saw the Town of Aylmer and Aylmer Garden Centre take first place, with the City of London in second and the Town of Cobourg in third. Cobourg’s basket included:  a Braun 14-inch wire basket, a moisture mat liner, ProMix BX soil mixture, Multicote 20-6-12 and eight month slow release fertilizer. Plant material included: Chocolate Splash coleus, petunia, Silver Falls dichondra and verbena.

Best garden plant material

In voting by industry members, the top winners at the Milton location are as follows, from first to fifth: Coleus ‘Henna’ – Ball FloraPlant, Zinnia ‘Zahara Fire’ – PanAmerican Seed, ‘Aristotle’ basil – Floranova, Cyperus ‘King Tut’ – Proven Winners and Rudbeckia maxima – George Sant Greenhouses.

At the Guelph gardens the top five plants, according to industry voters, are Cyperus ‘King Tut’ – Proven Winners, Agastache ‘Bronze Foliage’ – All-America Selections, Petunia ‘Pretty Much Picasso’ – Proven Winners, Rudbeckia ‘Denver Daisy’ – Benary, Verbena ‘Lanai Bright Eye’ – S&G Flowers.

The public vote at the Milton gardens, resulted in the following top five plants: Coleus ‘Henna’ – Ball FloraPlan, Cyperus ‘King Tut’ – Proven Winners, Petunia ‘Pretty Much Picasso’ – Proven Winners, Lantana ‘Landmark Blaze’ – Ball FloraPlant, ‘Aristotle’ basil – Floranova.

A great deal of appreciation was expressed for the many sponsors/donors. They include:
Plant material: All-America Selections, Ball Horticulture’ Benary, Blooms of Bressingham, Floranova, George Sant Greenhouses, Goldsmith Seeds, Ontario Seed Company, PanAmerican Seed, Proven Winners, S&G Flowers and Sakata.
Irrigation: Hunter Industries, The Toro Company, Rain Bird, John Deere Irrigation, Turf Care Products Canada and Vanden Bussche Irrigation.

Miscellaneous: A.M.A. Plastics, DH Water Management Services, Gro-Bark (Ontario), M. Putzer (Hornby) Nursery, Plant Products Co., Sun Gro Horticulture Canada, Agri-Food Laboratories, Students in the Specialist High Skills Major Program in Horticulture from Notre Dame high school in Burlington, Irrigation Industry Sector Group and Grounds Management Industry Sector Group.

Hanging baskets: Town of Aylmer, Town of Cobourg, City of Guelph, City of London, City of Oshawa and City of Toronto.

Caption: Visitors enjoyed the expanded gardens at LO home office during the open house.