Jun 24, 2021
From the Road — Day 1 at CAST’21 By Jasmina Dolce

I have to start this by saying I’m still kind of in shock that I’m even in California. It almost feels like a dream!

We just completed our first day of CAST, and to say the energy was just incredible would be an understatement. Every conversation we’ve had along our first three stops of the trip have been nothing but positive.

Day 1 begin in Gilroy at Syngenta Flowers, where they set up their display throughout their outdoor gardens. Every new and focus crop was planted in beds and in containers where visitors could observe how the plants would perform in their final destination.

From Dekko petunias to Bandana lantana to Mojo geranium to Cora XDR vinca — the grounds were shining and will really explode as the season continues.

Next we headed to Watsonville to catch up with the folks at Pacific Plug & Liner, along with PDSI and Flamingo Holland. As always, the exhibit was full of adorable displays of each collection, such as hellebores (although no longer blooming, still attractive with just foliage), lavender, delphinium and echibeckia.

We also got to check out their comparison trial this year — salvia. And they included every type of salvia you can think of — more than 100 varieties. So stay tuned for April Herring-Murray’s article in GPN later this year where she will share the results.

Last, we headed down the street to the land of begonias AKA Benary. Their trial garden will actually be open all summer, so visitors are welcome to come back and see how varieties perform as the heat continues into the season.

We were happy to see the return of ptilotus ‘Joey’ as well as all the vegetative Benary+ selections. They also displayed herb mixes, which would be a great gift item (think Father’s Day!).

I could go on and on about all the amazing things captured on CAST Day 1, but for now, here are some of our favorites.

— Jasmina

Marigold Endurance
Syngenta Flowers

Endurance marigold

Endurance is a new series that gives growers more flexibility and options in marigold production. It is not as small as a French marigold and not as big as an African marigold. It features extra large double flowers on a compact habit, and it blooms all season long. Three colors are available; Sunset Gold is pictured.

Cleome Sparkler 2.0
Syngenta Flowers

Cleome Sparkler

The Sparkler 2.0 series is an improved collection with better seed performance and a more compact habit that allows for larger scale production in smaller formats. It loves the heat and can handle summer stress. Its rich, eye-catching color and strong stature will perform great in landscape beds.

Petunia ‘Sanguna Banana Candy’
Syngenta Flowers

Sanguna petunia

Banana Candy is the newest addition to the popular Sanguna series of powerful petunias. It features a gorgeous bold yellow color that will stand out in baskets and combinations. Its large flowers and strong fast-filling habit creates an impactful display from top to bottom.

Iberis ‘Mermaid Lavender’
Syngenta Flowers

Iberis Mermaid Lavender

Part of the Think Plants collection, ‘Mermaid Lavender’ is the first lavender flowering iberis to extend the season as it blooms in summer. It is first-year flowering, fills out nicely and maintains its gorgeous color. It is hardy to Zones 5 through 9.

Delphinium ‘Delgenius Glitzy’
Pacific Plug & Liner

Delgenius delphinium

Glitzy is the fourth and newest addition to the Delgenius collection. Hardy to Zones 3 through 9, this incredible delphinium is sturdy and can withstand the heat. A single liner easily fills a 10-inch planter in a matter of weeks. It is genetically compact and doesn’t require growth regulation.

Ptilotus ‘Joey Improved’

Ptilotus Joey

Ptilotus ‘Joey’ is back! This improved variety has strength and flower power. Plants stand tall, love the heat and keep pushing out blooms all season. It is a perfect impulse buy or fun gift item at retail. For growers, it has a short crop time of 12 to 16 weeks — offering a quick return on a unique crop.

Rudbeckia ‘Amarillo Gold’

rudbeckia Amarillo Gold

‘Amarillo Gold’ made its debut last year, but this is the first time we got to see this award winner in person. It displays large, bright yellow blooms on sturdy stems, truly making a statement in the ground or in containers. It has a similar look to ‘Prairie Sun’ but with a more compact habit.

Geranium ‘Andromeda White Splash’

Andromeda is a cross between ivy and zonal geranium. The entire series boasts bright, bold colors against attractive dark foliage. White Splash stood out with its white blooms and eye-catching pink centers. Andromeda varieties are great in small planters and withstand hot and dry climates.

Jasmina Dolce

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

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