Doug and I had an early start Thursday morning — very early. We left our comfy hotel at 4.45 a.m. in an attempt to pass through the giant writhing mass of traffic that is Los Angeles during the morning rush hour. Happily, our mission was successful — we zipped down the California freeway from Ventura in the dark and hit LA around sunrise.
Once we were well out of the threat of spending hours sitting on the road in an endless line of other cars, we stopped and had a very delicious breakfast (which I believe was my first meal at an IHOP). And being the plant lovers we are, Doug and I couldn’t help but check out the garden departments of the Lowe’s and Home Depot right across the street. All of those Southern California plants made me wish I’d brought an extra suitcase (and had an unlimited credit card)!
Eventually, 170 miles after leaving our hotel, we made it down to Bonsall where we were met with great hospitality by the Proven Winners team (shout out to Danielle, Marshall, Chris, and Doug!). They always have an exceptional line of plants to show, and Doug and I were not disappointed.
My favorite variety at PW was Calibrachoa Superbells Grape Punch, a delightful chamer that offers rich purple flowers kissed by a darker purple center. I can see using that in all sorts of fun combinations — with airy Euphorbia Diamond Frost or Gaura Stratosphere White; with rich coleus Dark Star or colorful pepper Purple Flash.
The star of the PW show, though, was Calibrachoa Superbells Cherry Star. We’d seen a lot of calibrachoas on this trip, but this one really stood out because of the gold star pattern on the hot pink flowers.
Additionally, we were treated to the sights of their other outstanding annuals — plus shrubs (watch for pearlbush — it’s a stunner in the May landscape!) and the new line of perennials Proven Winners will be adding next year (including heat- and drought-resistant baptisias).
After lunch, we jumped on the road after a quick 10 miles, we arrived at Plug Connection, where that company was displaying, as well as Suntory (which is the company behind such outstanding plants as the Sun Parasol series of mandevilla, Senetti line of pericallis [aka cineraria], Surfinia petunias, Tapien verbenas, and Million Bells calibrachoas).
Our friends at Benary were also there and in top form. Benary is known for its begonias (think Nonstop tuberous begonias, as well as the Cocktail series of bedding begonia), Denver Daisy black-eyed Susan, and a host of other great varieties. The company was showing off some gorgeous new pansies in their Inspire line, as well as 2011 All-America Selections award winner Gaillardia Arizona Apricot.
The last stop of the day — and of California Spring Trials for us — was Ecke Ranch, where we were delighted by a gorgeous display of plants. Ecke had a little of everything — gorgeous new osteospermum, coleus, sweet potato vines, petunias, and more. It was a great way to wrap up the trip!
Like what you read and missed our first three days? Check them out here!
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