Justin W. Hancock

Adventure of the Year

Every spring, groups of plant breeders, garden center managers, horticultural brokers, garden journalists, and other plant-loving types flock to California for an event called California Spring Trials. It’s where a number of the big plant breeders show off their new varieties you’ll see in garden centers the following year. This year, Doug Jimerson (editor in chief of gardening for the Better Homes and Gardens brand) and I had the pleasure of attending.

It was a six-day journey that started with us leaving Des Moines, Iowa, for warm and sunny California. We arrived in San Jose on Sunday, and promptly started our adventure, driving south about 60 miles to the seaside town of Moss Landing where we met with the folks from Golden State Bulb Growers and saw their amazing selection of callas (and there were some spectacular varieties — lots of golds, some oranges, pinks, whites, and even a couple that were nearly black) and begonias (in the cool greenhouse, the flowers on some varieties were easily 6 inches across).

The next day we got up early and drove over to Gilroy, where we first met with the folks from Danziger and saw a selection of breathtaking new varieties (as well as some old favorites, including the Littletunia series of petunias) — and their lovely pre-made plant combo ideas (the Mixis).

Then it was time to hit the road and drive over to meet with the fabulous folks at Syngenta Flowers — where we saw tons and tons of plants (including Verbena Lanai Twister Pink), had a great lunch, and picked up a lot of ideas for future stories from their displays.

Look at how cute it was to weave fabric in the roof of the greenhouse!

We were next on the road again for a 25-mile jaunt to Watsonville, where we talked to folks at Pacific Plug and Liner, where we were treated to more great plants from around the world, including geranium ‘Dreamland‘ — as well as some yummy chocolate-chip cookies.

The last stop of the day was another 20 miles to San Juan Bautista, where we met with folks from Thompson and Morgan; ABZ Strawberries, which has really fun varieties such as delicious and beautiful ‘Tristan’, HEM (which offers a really lovely series of annual dianthus), and more.

That was just the first leg of our trip. Want to read more? Check out part two — and then part three — and we wrap up with part four!

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