Published on 06/13/13

Plenty of plants and plenty of stories featured at the Trial Gardens at UGA's annual open house

By Merritt Melancon

Friends, fellow plant lovers and groupies are invited to take one last walk around the Garden with Dr. A at the Trial Gardens at UGA’s annual Public Open House on July 13 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Renowned UGA horticulturalist Allan Armitage is finishing up his last growing season at the Trial Gardens, which he founded upon arrival at UGA.

Every year at the Trial Gardens' open house, visitors have the chance to get an up-close look at a new class of vetted ornamentals ranging from gorgeous flowers and spectacular roses to hardy bulbs.

This year there may be as many stories in the garden as plants, as friends and fans say goodbye to Armitage, who has helped support the green industry and inspire gardeners since he arrived at UGA 31 years ago. A short thank you recognition will be held at 11:00 am, Dr. A stories can be shared at that time.

"We enjoy sharing the beauty of the garden and highlighting some of the new plants that people can plant in their gardens," Armitage said. "After all, where is it written that research has to be ugly?"

Armitage will give tours throughout the day. He will also hold a book signing, and his recent titles will be on sale. He will demonstrate his new smartphone/tablet App, “Armitage’s Greatest Perennials & Annuals.”

Hundreds of plants will be on display, but the staff is particularly proud of their collection of roses this year, said Sheridan Weaver, marketing director for the garden.

Located on the UGA campus in Athens between Snelling Dining Hall and the pharmacy building, the gardens display hundreds of annuals and perennials from plant breeders around the world. John Ruter, a veteran ornamental horticulturalist with the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, will continue the garden in the future.

The garden is generally open to the public free of charge, but the open house gives visitors a chance to learn inside knowledge from Dr A. and his students about this year's most promising plant varieties. A $5 donation will be accepted to help support the Trial Garden and to support the student workers.

Planters designed by the gardens' staff will also be available for sale.

As this is a Saturday, most parking lots around the garden will be open and free of charge. However, parking is also available in the South Campus Parking Deck. The Trial Gardens are located at 220 W. Green St., Athens, Ga. 30602. For more information, see or email

Merritt Melancon is a public relations manager with UGA's Terry College of Business and previously served as a public relations coordinator for the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and UGA Extension.

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