Professionals from all over Florida converged online to hear from top breeders about their new varieties and the performance in Central Florida’s trial gardens. When planning the 10th annual Florida Flower Trials (FFT) program, no one could have imagined they wouldn't get up close and personal with the flowers. Instead of being at the gardens, attendees enjoyed the view from the safety and comfort of their own homes.
Chris Beytes, Ball Horticulture kicked off the program to expand attendees’ horizons and share his thoughts on the most puzzling part of the horticulture business: the consumer! Chris also shared on new buying patterns and what he believes will motivate consumers to spend their money this spring and summer. FFT host Bob Cook also guided attendees through the breeder showcase which this year featured eight breeder presentations.
Florida Flower Trials may have taken place virtually this year but the impact of “flower power” in the gardens will be seen by visitors throughout the summer. Harry P. Leu Gardens and UF/IFAS Orange County Extension Services were the main gardens for this year’s program. As many saw themselves furloughed or sheltering in place, Harry P. Leu gardens remains open and their staff shared the flowers with daily guests. Hundreds of plant varieties were still planted in order to maintain a yearly plant performance trial.
“Whether the areas were full sun, shaded or raised beds, each trial site offered a unique growing environment along with different levels of maintenance,” Linda Reindl, FNGLA’s director of education, said of the selected trial sites. “The new varieties were planted six weeks before the event which then allowed breeders and industry members during the event to evaluate for themselves those same varieties at their best, grown under different conditions.”
Evaluations will continue throughout the summer and be available on FNGLA's website.
“The success of programs like this really depends on industry support,” Reindl said. “A big thanks to Brad’s Bedding Plants and Speedling for their support and willingness to grow out the new varieties featured at Harry P. Leu Gardens and UF/IFAS Orange County Extension. And, a special thanks to the trial teams at both Leu Gardens and Extension, for keeping the gardens looking happy and healthy. Thanks also goes to Colorburst, Orlando and Ameriscape Landscape Management Services for donating their time to install the trial gardens and to our many breeders who continue to support this program.”
As FFT moderator Bob Cook said during the webinar, “You’ve heard several sincere, heartfelt salutations lately such as 'stay safe;' 'be careful;' 'stay healthy' …I’d like to add a new, two-word salutation with many benefits: Step Outside!”
FNGLA encourages you to take Bob’s advice and enjoy the flowers. For more information or a chance to see the replay - visit www.floridaflowertrials.org.