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INTRODUCING “LES EXCEPTIONELLES”


January 28, 2008
By Claude Vallée

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After a first season of trials, officials are proud to present the first Québec “Top 10” bedding plants.

After a first season of trials, we are proud to present the first Québec “Top 10” bedding plants, named “Les Exceptionnelles.”

In response to the many needs of the ornamental and horticultural sector, the “Jardin de démonstration et d’évaluation des nouveautés horticoles” is intended to be a site to display and evaluate the most recent ornamental plant introductions in Québec, as well as the future introductions planned by many plant and seed companies. The objective is to see their performance under our growing conditions.

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The garden is located on the grounds of the impressive Jardin Daniel A. Séguin, which is situated in Saint-Hyacinthe, a community just 45 minutes east of Montreal. This garden is also located next to the Institut de technologie agroalimentaire, a school of horticulture and agriculture. The garden covers about 4.5 hectares, and is the fourth most popular public garden in Québec, with more than 16,000 visitors per year.

The agricultural, tourist-related and educational vocations of this centre made it a most appropriate site to host this trial and demonstration garden. It is open from mid-June through to early September, between the hours of 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.

For the industry, the main objective of this project is to entice and encourage consumers to try these new plants after seeing their performance in a garden. It also convinces growers to produce these plants.

Further, there is considerable exposure in the media, which talks about these specific plants, a link we never had before.

After our first year, we can look back to a great start. There is already a demand for the top 10 plants selected, and an enthusiastic commitment from many players in the industry to have this project succeed.
The “Top 10” is selected by a group of horticultural specialists in Québec and are called “Les Exceptionnelles." The selections are based on garden performance, the appeal of the plants, and input from visitors. The selections were promoted last spring in all the main newspapers, magazines and television shows, and in a promotion campaign never before seen in Québec horticulture.

For the first year of the project, we had a great growing season, with lots of sun and warm temperatures. We registered more than 16,000 visitors, and about 2,000 of them voted for their favourite varieties. We are quite satisfied with this level of participation, which greatly reduces the risk of promoting a selection that will not be appreciated by the consumers.

This past summer, two plant categories were presented in the trials garden: plants from seeds and plants from cuttings. They were grown in flowerbeds and in 16" containers. In the future, we will be adding perennials to the trials, and after that, we hope to extend it to shrubs.

Special thanks to the following partners of our project for 2006: Ball, Jack Van Klaveren (JVK), Norseco and Dominion Seed House, FIHOQ (Fédération Interdisciplinaire de l’Horticulture Ornementale du Québec), Compostage GL, le Centre d’information et de développement expérimental en serriculture (CIDES), the magazine Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, L’Institut de technologie agroalimentaire (ITA), and the Jardin Daniel A. Séguin.

• The Jardin Daniel A. Séguin website is at http://itasth.qc.ca/jardindas.

Claude Vallée, agr. M.Sc., is a horticultural teacher and technology innovation coordinator at the Saint-Hyacinthe campus of the Institut de technologie agroalimentaire. He is also project and trials manager at the Jardin Daniel A. Séguin. • Claude.vallee@mapaq.gouv.qc.ca


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