Published on 06/24/15

The Trial Gardens at UGA to host open house July 18

By Samantha Anderson

For more than three decades, the Trial Gardens at the University of Georgia have introduced thousands of new plant varieties to home gardeners and landscape designers. From 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, July 18, the public will have the opportunity to get a first-hand glimpse of these new varieties and other Georgia favorites at the gardens’ annual open house.

Each year at the Trial Gardens’ open house, visitors get an up-close view of a new showcase of ornamentals, ranging from vibrantly colored flowers to hardy shrubs.

This year the garden staff is in the process of updating the perennials section and has implemented new technologies to reduce pathogens and weeds in the soil in order to produce healthier plants. Many of the newest perennials, annuals and show-stopping roses will be in full bloom during the open house.

Located on the main UGA campus between Snelling Dining Commons and the R.C. Wilson Pharmacy Building, the lush oasis displays hundreds of annuals and perennials from plant breeders around the world.

“The Trial Gardens at UGA are one the best kept secrets in northeast Georgia," said John Ruter, a UGA horticulturist and director of the gardens. "Our annual open house is our chance to share one the most beautiful parts of the UGA campus with the community and share some of what we've learned over our last year gardening."

The gardens are always open to the public, but the open house is an opportunity for visitors to get exclusive knowledge about this year’s most promising plant varieties. Ruter will lead tours throughout the morning, showcasing some of the gardens’ latest additions.

He will also be signing copies of his newest book, “Landscaping with Conifers and Ginkgo for the Southeast.” Copies of the book will be available for purchase at the open house.

Plant nurseries and breeding companies send hundreds of new plants each year and fund the gardens by paying to have their plants evaluated. The goal of the Trial Gardens is to see if the plants can survive in the Southeast’s hot and rainfall-variable climate. The funds go toward the gardens’ upkeep and a team of students who work to keep the gardens running.

The Trial Gardens also serve as a teaching and research facility for the UGA Department of Horticulture and other academic departments on campus.

The open house will be held rain or shine. The gardens' staff requests a $5 donation to help offset the cost of the event and support the gardens, located at 220 West Green St., Athens, Georgia.

Parking will be available in the McPhaul Child Development Building parking lot, across from Stegeman Coliseum. Additional parking can be found in the South Campus parking deck. For more information, visit, email or call Juliet Swanson at 770-298-9151.

Samantha Anderson is a student writer with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

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