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Growing in the Green: Hard to contain ourselves

January 11, 2010  By Melhem Sawaya

In the November 2009 issue, we shared a few highlights of the Sawaya Garden Trials. This month, I am sharing with you the cultivars that had excellent garden performance and that attracted considerable attention and interest from our visitors.

In the November 2009 issue, we shared a few highlights of the Sawaya
Garden Trials. This month, I am sharing with you the cultivars that had
excellent garden performance and that attracted considerable attention
and interest from our visitors.

(For an overview of the Trials, visit our Web Exclusives section at and click on “Sawaya Garden Trials 2009


‘Canna Tropical’ (13) is from seed and features many colours. It has
multiple shoots, and blooms the entire summer. All the leaves of the
different colour blooms are green; we are waiting for coloured leaves!

‘Gaura Stratosphere’ (12) is an excellent plant throughout the summer,
and is ideal in large pots. It never needs deadheading. Excessive rain,
heat and wind will not set gaura back at all. It is an excellent centre
plant in a combination, especially ‘Stratosphere White.’



‘Sanvitalia Sunbini’ (11) is one of the better sanvitalias on the
market. It has an excellent growing habit, with loads of yellow flowers
that never need deadheading. It offers an excellent show throughout the
summer, in either rain or during hot and dry weather.

‘Agastache Purple Haze’ (10) works well in large pots for June sales.
The sturdy blooms never need deadheading. It thrives in the rain, the
sun and the heat. It has an excellent show, especially in the garden.

‘Artemisia Silver Cascade’ (9) is a great filler when it is in the
right combination. Try it with balcony geraniums! It starts slow until
the roots become well established, and this allows the geraniums to get
a head start. It then comes on strong to complement the geraniums, or
just about anything else in a mix.

‘Ipomea Illusion Emerald Lace’ (8) is the new breeding of ipomea that
has finger-type leaves that allow plants mixed with it to show through.
It is an excellent filler with any other genus and will make a nice
foliage combination with the other ipomea leaf colours.

There are many grasses on the market, but if you are looking for
something that stands out from quite a distance and that will fill a
large area of your garden, ‘King Tut’ (7) is in a class by itself. In
our trials, the “King” fell off his throne (the stand) on very windy
days – and we had a lot of windy days last summer – but that didn’t
hurt “Tut” at all! We placed him back on his throne and he performed
majestically as if nothing had happened.


‘Geranium Calliope Dark Red’ (6) is the product of crossing zonal
geranium with ivy geranium, with more zonal geranium “bloodlines” in
it. It has an excellent and vigorous habit, and takes the sun quite
well. If you are using it in hanging baskets, make sure you use fewer
cuttings per container. ‘Calliope’ is not for 4” production. One
cutting is fine for 6” production, and this should be the smallest pot
size you should use.

‘Geranium Orbit Appleblossom’ (5) is an excellent example of a hybrid
geranium from seed that took the rain much better than any zonal
geranium. The dark-zoned leaves give an excellent background to loads
of pink, large blooms.
Try growing some hybrid seed geraniums, but give them the space you
give your zonals and I’m sure you will have plants that are much better
than many zonal geraniums.

‘Petunia Pretty Much Picasso’ (4) is definitely a new bloom look with
its green flower edge. It is excellent in the sun, but is especially
impressive in how the flowers stand up to a rainfall. Not even a
half-hour after the rain stops, the flowers look fresh and wide open –
they’re refreshed, much like we are after taking a shower. ‘Pretty Much
Picasso’ is quite resistant to botrytis and many other diseases. The
closer you are, the better it looks. From 30 feet away, the blooms may
look like leaves; however, if you are three feet away, the flowers are
especially impressive. It features durable stems and leaves.


‘Euphorbia Breathless Blush’ (3) is one of the latest additions to
the euphorbia lineup, with white-pinkish blooms. This is an excellent
performer the whole summer and features a compact habit. It can be
added to many mixes. It is especially rain tolerant and can take cool
or hot weather. It never stops blooming. Like all euphorbias, it
deadheads itself and the new blooms appear almost immediately.

I have been trialling ‘Petunia Supertunia Vista Bubblegum’ (2) for the
last three years, and it is always impressive. However, last summer,
with an unusually high number of rainy days, the Vista series shone
through the raindrops. It is an excellent variety and has loads of
blooms. It is quite botrytis resistant.

And the champion is the ‘Lobularia Snow Princess’ (1). It has an
excellent habit, can grow cool and it can also take the heat and heavy
rains without compromising performance. ‘Snow Princess’ looked as you
see it here all summer long. This photo was taken Aug. 10, and the
summer heat had no effect on it.


Another trial season is over, and we are already planning for the
2010 edition, in which more mixes will be added and more vegetables
will be trialled.

Melhem Sawaya of Focus Greenhouse Management is a consultant and
research co-ordinator to the horticultural industry. Comments on this
or any other article are always welcome; please e-mail, or visit or

 “… And the winners are…”
2913-First-Prize 2913-Second-Prize
First-prize winner.  Second-prize winner.
2913-Third-Prize 2913-Fourth-Prize
Third-prize winner. Fourth-prize winner.
2913-Linda-Cozyn 2913--Vanbeurdens
Linda Cozyn. Neil & Mike Van Beurden.

The Hanging Basket Contest at the Sawaya Garden Trials is in its third season. Visitors, including buyers, growers and consumers, vote on baskets that are mainly combinations. Winning the fourth and second-place awards were Neil and Mike Van Beurden, from Westland Greenhouses in Jordan Station. Their combinations involved primarily calibrachoa, which proves the popularity of this genus. Its garden performance will look great throughout the entire summer season under all kinds of weather conditions.

The third-place prize winner was designed by Linda Cozyn from Cozyn’s Garden Centre and Greenhouses. This combination is totally different than traditional designs. It is mainly comprised of different foliage textures that gel together to give an awesome look the entire season. Even though the combination was designed for shade areas, we put it in full sun and it performed exceptionally well.

Linda Cozyn also won this year’s champion hanging basket combination. It was a mixture of succulents that was watered about once a week and looked better as the season progressed.

What we learned from the contest this year was that there are two types of combinations: one that has outstanding colours and performance, and the other with low-maintenance requirements and great performance.

Think out of the box and try new combos, then expand them in your program if everything works well.

JVK donated vouchers for the prizewinners, including $300 for first place, $200 for second, and $100 for third.

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