Back home in Athens I ventured out to the UGA Trial Gardens Open House. As always, the gardens were amazing and retiring professor Dr. Allan Armitage leading the garden tours was entertaining. The UGA Trial Gardens are essentially a giant research lab located on the Athens campus and open to the public. They were started in 1982 by two University of Georgia professors – Allan Armitage and Michael Dirr – both of whom are now world renowned in the field of horticulture. The primary functions of the garden are research, teaching, and new plant introductions. It is one of the most attractive research labs I have ever visited!
Students work in the gardens (their lab) collecting data on the performance of plants that come from growers around the world. “The performance ratings are based on number of flowers, leaf color, uniformity of habit and flower, resistance to insects and diseases and overall appearance.” Visiting the gardens (virtually or in-person) is a great way to see how plants perform in hot humid climates. Around 2008 the gardens began the journey towards more sustainable gardening. Check out the UGA Trial Garden website for information on the plants that performed best and those that won a Classic City Award. You also can learn more about plants that do well in your climate from Cooperative Extension in your state.
Most importantly, have fun gardening!