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Sawaya Garden Trials move to new location


June 4, 2021
By Greta Chiu
A look at the new Sawaya Garden trial grounds. Photos courtesy of Tanya Carvalho of Ball Horticultural Co.

The Sawaya Garden Trials have moved to a new spot.

Now in their 21st year, the container trials have migrated from their well-known grounds in Simcoe, Ont. to their new home 10 minutes away in Waterford, Ont.

Featuring close to 3,000 varieties on display, the new location boasts four acres of trial containers and hangers.

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Visitors can also look forward to two showstopping 12-foot hanging baskets to complete the display.

Last year, Sawaya broke new ground on a 26,000 sq. ft. greenhouse adjacent to the trial grounds, and he already has plans to double it. “The greenhouse is built to be labour-saving and heat-efficient,” he says, along with efficient water use from a ground source.

Though the greenhouse may not play a large role in the open house this summer, Sawaya plans to use it to hold future production trials, including poinsettias. The greenhouse also has meeting spaces for the horticultural sector and will open its doors for consumer education, “once COVID lifts,” says Sawaya.


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Also new for 2021 is a point-based grading system for the trialled varieties.

“For the past 20 years, the Sawaya Garden Trials have concentrated on garden performance, which is extremely important,” wrote Sawaya in last year’s recap of the trials. Starting in 2021, however, “we will be tracking other factors that make a cultivar successful in the long run.” The criteria will include quality and performance of the starting plant materials, at point of purchase and, of course, in the trial garden.

The top scoring varieties will emerge in his annual report this fall, but he’ll also be using the feedback to help breeders drive improvements in the varieties themselves.

The Sawaya Garden Trials open house is set for July 21, 2021 at 1880 Blueline Road. For updates to COVID-19 protocols in place, visit sawayagardentrials.ca or contact the organizer at mel@focusgreenhousemanagement.com .