Aug 19, 2018
Colorado’s Top PerformersBy Jasmina Dolce

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to visit Welby Gardens in Arvada, Colorado, during their annual trial. I had never been, but I’ve been told by so many over the years that it has become one of the most important trial gardens in the country.

During my visit, I got to learn a little about the history of the trial from Mandy Gerace, sales executive with Welby Gardens. Welby’s first trial garden and party was in 1991. There was no All-America Selections sites anywhere in Colorado at the time, and with the unique arid and high light climate, the team at Welby felt it was important to have representation in this region. So they trialed 3 acres in their fields in Welby, Colorado.

Due to harsh drought conditions along with the acquisition of the facility in Arvada, Welby Gardens changed its trials in 2005. Gerace said they decided to perform a container trial at the new facility and felt this would complement the Colorado State University trial garden to give growers multiple perspectives.

Today, Welby Gardens trials thousands of varieties and displayed about 1,100 at this year’s event. According to Gerace, Colorado experienced an extremely hot and dry summer in 2018. June was the hottest on record. She said the intense heat definitely put the trials to the test. Many varieties were ready weeks early, so there was a lot of hand trimming that had to be done and the shade varieties were pushed to the extremes. Dan Gerace oversees and coordinates the trial plants from beginning to end. “Along with the help of an amazing team of growers and staff, this year’s trials came together beautifully!” said Gerace.

This year, Welby Gardens celebrated its 70th year in business, so every detail was inspired from its heritage. It was an absolute pleasure to participate in the event this year, and vote for all my personal favorites (some of them made the final top 10 list!). This year, about 400 people were in attendance. The votes have been tallied, and here are the Top 10:

1) Delphinium ‘Red Lark’
Darwin Perennials

2) Petunia ‘Crazytunia Frisky Purple’

3) Verbena ‘Empress Flair Burgundy Star’
Dümmen Orange

4) Gomphrena ‘Truffula Pink’
Proven Winners

5) Petunia ‘Crazytunia Cosmic Purple’

6) Calibrachoa ‘Chameleon Atomic Orange’

7) Dahlia ‘City Lights Purple’

8) Begonia ‘Evi Bright Pink’

9) Verbena ‘Firehouse White Improved’
Ball FloraPlant

10) Rudbeckia ‘Rising Sun Chestnut Gold’
Green Fuse Botanicals

Have you had a chance to visit the Welby Gardens trials? Do you have any favorites from the list above? 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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