Nov 7, 2016
Standouts at Raker Trial GardensBy Jasmina Dolce

This may just be my favorite time of the year. Leaves are falling, the air is cool and the holidays are just around the corner. But another reason I love this time of year so much is because universities, growers and other public gardens are reporting results from their plant trials. I love learning about all the new varieties and how they performed over the past few months.

In recent newsletters, I’ve shared trial results from Colorado State University and Kansas State University. Today, I’d like to travel northeast to C. Raker & Sons, in Litchfield, Michigan, home of the annual Raker Trial Gardens.

Each year, the Raker Trial Gardens displays more than 100,000 individual plants in both comparison trials and landscape environments. The trials are open from July 19 through Sept. 1, with varieties scored once a week on a five-point scale.

Of all the plants trialed, only a select few receive an all-around 5.0 score. Here are a few of the standout varieties that received a perfect score this summer:

Basil ‘Snow White’


Begonia ‘California Sunlight’


Begonia ‘Megawatt Bronze Leaf Pink’
PanAmerican Seed


Bidens ‘Beedance Painted Red’


Gomphrena ‘Ping Pong Purple’


Lophospermum ‘Lofos White’


To learn more about the Raker Trial Gardens, click here, where you can view more photos and full trial results.

Are you growing any of the above varieties? Which ones are your favorites? Have you attended any trials this year, or have you hosted trials of your own? What is your take on the various trials and their top performers? Shoot me an email at [email protected] and let me know; I’d love to hear from you.

— Jasmina


Jasmina Dolce

Jasmina Dolce is managing editor of GPN magazine. She can be reached at [email protected]

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