Pick your favorite plant at University Center of the Arts annual trial garden

Sierra Cymes

Agriculture and natural resource economics grad student, TraeAnn Schlemmer, checks out the flowers in the Annual Trial Garden across from the University Center for the Arts on Tuesday night. (Photo credit: Christina Vessa)
Agriculture and natural resource economics grad student, TraeAnn Schlemmer, checks out the flowers in the Annual Trial Garden across from the University Center for the Arts on Tuesday night. (Photo credit: Christina Vessa)

It still smells like summer at the Annual Flower Trial Garden outside the University Center for the Arts, even with the cooler weather coming.

“That’s why we’re here,” said Tyler Parker, a health and exercise science alumni. “It’s the last leg right before they’re all going to be gone.”

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Every year, garden visitors vote for their favorite flowers to be planted in next year’s garden.

“The voting is to come up with our Colorado State University best of’s,” said Dr. Jim E Klett, annual garden facility coordinator and instructor of HORT 322. “What is the best geranium, what is the best petunia, so that we can then market to the growers to grow and also to the consumers.”

Exploring the gardens reveals a wide variety of well-loved plants, such as the handful of different hues of petunias. There are the typical colors like white and purple, but they are nestled among stunning varieties of blue-veined, salmon, hybrid blue star and angel cake.

The annual trial garden gets entries from about 25 different companies from around the world, Klett said. About a third or more are new entries bred from different seed and vegetative companies. They enter them into the garden’s trial and pay an entry fee.

Plants are evaluated by industry personnel based on vigor, uniformity, floriferousness and tolerance to the harsh Colorado conditions.

The Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture tests and analyzes the performance of over a thousand varieties of plants every year. Students and community members alike get a special preview and voice in the decision of what experimental plants will be on shelves in 2015. The plants tagged “new variety” will most likely be showing up in stores next year.

As summer comes to a close, students are encouraged to take a stroll and find their favorite kind of plant.

The change of season brings along challenges for the current plants and new ones will soon replace the summer flowers.

In the first part of October, Klett says his students from HORT 322 remove the plants, as well as plant some cool season plants — pansies and violas  in one or two of the beds.

Vote for your favorite plants in the annual trial garden at tinyurl.com/AFTGpublic/.

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Collegian A&E Writer Sierra Cymes can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @sierra_cymes