HORTICULTURAL FIELD DAY ...

Field day features 100s of ornamentals

500 varieties of ornamental plants and vegetables on display June 23

The 2015 East Texas Horticultural Field Day allowed the public and professionals to look at and learn about more than 400 varieties of ornamentals. There will be even more varieties this year at the event June 23. (Texas A&M AgriLife Research photo by Dr. Brent Pemberton)

OVERTON, Texas — This year’s East Texas Horticultural Field Day will feature more than 500 varieties of ornamental plants and vegetables for public viewing, along with discussions by experts at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Overton.

The event, slated for June 23, will be held rain or shine.

Gardeners, professional landscape managers and seed company representatives will learn which landscape plants do well under East Texas conditions, said Dr. Brent Pemberton, Texas A&M AgriLife Research ornamental horticulturist. Pemberton said he started the trials in 1993 to meet the needs of commercial seed companies, local nursery managers and gardening enthusiasts.

There is no cost to attend or for the barbecue lunch. The field day will begin with registration at 8:30 a.m. at the center’s North Farm site, 10746 Farm-to-Market Road 3053, about four miles north of the center.

The field trial beds cover about 1 acre and are visible from the road. The center headquarters are about 2 miles north of downtown Overton on Farm-to-Market Road 3053. For driving directions to the center or the North Farm site, go to http://flowers.tamu.edu/field-day/ or call 903-834-6191.

The field day will feature everything from geraniums to petunias to verbena to begonias in outdoor plots, Pemberton said. Vegetable varieties will also be on display.

The trials include some of the standards of previous tests, including both old and new varieties of vincas, ornamental peppers and sweet potatoes, trailing petunias, verbenas, dahlias, coleus and cannas, Pemberton said. This year, an increased number of rapid-blooming perennial varieties, such as coreopsis, shasta daisies, gerberas, dianthus, phlox and salvias, which are billed as having the potential of blooming the first year from seeds or sets, will be on display.

There will also be almost 50 varieties of portulacas from about six new series that have been released over the past several years, he said.

“We try to assemble as many species as we can,” he said. “There are some that have been around for years, recent releases and new ones, but some varieties on display won’t be seen on the market until next year.”

The field day will move to the ornamental trials and demonstration garden at the Overton center headquarters from 10:30-11:45 a.m. Dr. Joe Masabni, AgriLife Extension vegetable specialist, will also present plants in ongoing vegetable trials at the center.

From 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m., a barbecue lunch will be provided courtesy of seed companies and other field day sponsors.

The afternoon speaker programs will be indoors at the Overton center’s Bruce McMillan Jr. Auditorium. Topic and speakers topics:

— Pemberton, Outstanding Performers at the Overton Trials.

— Kaylee Decker, trials manager, Dallas Arboretum, Great Plants at the Dallas Arboretum.

— Dawn Stover, research associate, Mast Arboretum, Stephen F. Austin State University, Wild About Color: Planting for Pollinators.

Pemberton said prior to the trials, there was little information available to greenhouse growers and the industry as to whether any particular bedding plant variety was suited to the East Texas climate and soils.

The bedding plant industry has had a $500 million annual economic impact in East Texas over the past decade, and though not recession proof, it hasn’t experienced the downturn in consumer spending that other businesses experienced, Pemberton said.

“For everyone who likes to have flower color in their landscape, this is a great place to see the newest and the best for East Texas and this region of the country,” Pemberton said.

—Adam Russell
Texas A&M

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