Plant of the Month: January 2015
by Jenny Wegley
Dallas Arboretum 2014 Overview
and a Sneak Peek into 2015
What a year 2014 has been! It started off miserably cold, and a late, hard freeze left us covering early spring plant material to protect it as best we could. Spring blooms were a sight for sore eyes after the long winter. A beautiful spring gave way to a mild and wet early summer, then came August in true Texas fashion: hot and humid!
This past year the Dallas Arboretum Plant Trials Program conducted large genus trials for each season. In the fall/winter trials, we focused on large-flowered pansies, medium-spiked snapdragons and several varieties of kale, cabbage and pak choi. With the colder-than-normal winter that Dallas experienced, we were able to collect valuable cold tolerance data on these crops.
Petunia, Lobelia, Nemesia and Dianthus took center stage during the spring, along with 255 new varieties of hyacinth, Narcissus and tulips. During the summer, we evaluated vegetables — okra, basil, peppers and tomatoes. We also trialed several vegetative coleus cultivars, along with Cuphea, tropical Hibiscus, Pelargonium and Zinnia. We ended the year having trialed more than 3,000 different varieties of annuals, perennials, vegetables and bulbs.
For 2015 we will continue to focus on genus trials, with emphasis on drought-tolerance and edibles. It is no secret that water in North Texas can be hard to come by, especially during the summer months. It is our goal to find new plant material, both annual and perennial, that will withstand our hot summers and use water in the most efficient way. Another trend that we are happy to see take off is the increased interest in home and community vegetable gardening. Beginning now, we are trialing everything from lettuce, broccoli, greens, and Swiss chard to peppers, tomatoes, and herbs. We understand the importance of being able to grow your own food and the implications it has on health, not to mention on our wallets.
We have completed the first phase of our new website, which shows trial results for just about every plant the program has ever trialed. It is user-friendly and will be an essential tool for those deciding which varieties perform best in our North Texas climate. A goal for 2015 is to continue to improve our website with an added photo library of trial entries and with faster public access to data. We will also continue to use social media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) to promote plants that are performing well in the trial grounds.
We wish you a Happy New Year and look forward to sharing new discoveries with you along the way in 2015!