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Rotary Gardens to trial, display 25 new seed varieties from Japan

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ROCHELLE B. BIRKELO
February 19, 2010
— Several new flower varieties will be blooming this summer at Rotary Gardens.

The botanical gardens on Palmer Drive has been asked to display and trial 25 new seed varieties by Takii Seeds of Japan, one of the world’s top 10 seed companies.


Takii’s California office contacted Rotary Gardens about the proposal two months ago, said Mark Dwyer, Rotary Gardens’ horticulture director.


“I thought it was a cool opportunity,” Dwyer said. “What’s becoming interesting about our seed trialing is we’re becoming better known for what we’re doing.’’


The new arrangement allows Rotary Gardens to expand its existing trialing program, which already includes varieties from Ball Seed and PanAmerican Seed, and displays for All-America Selections and Fleuroselect (Europe), Dwyer said.


Many of the varieties Rotary Gardens will trial and display from Takii are not yet released. So when visitors come to the gardens, they’ll see some petunia varieties they can’t yet buy, Dwyer said.


“These companies are relying on us to successfully grow, display and evaluate these plants. So there’s a huge trust factor,’’ he said.


Dwyer said the Takii seeds will be distributed to area greenhouses to get them growing. Once they’re planted at Rotary Gardens, staff and volunteers will maintain them, photograph them over the summer and Dwyer will write a subjective assessment of them.


“There’s not a lot of hard data,” he said.


Dwyer will make notations about each flower’s appearance, how well it flowered throughout the summer and whether there were mildew issues or any other problems.


“(Takii is) interested in how their varieties are doing in our climate and in our garden setting here,’’ he said.


The new varieties seen at the gardens can’t be ordered from Takii Seeds.


“They have no catalog and are the initial suppliers of these varieties to seed catalogs and companies,” Dwyer said.


Among the new seed varieties are perennials such as purple coneflowers, and annuals such as some new wax begonias.


Also featured in the annuals selection is a petunia opera series that has seen huge developments in new colors each year. Rotary Gardens received 10 new colors in this flower series that is known for lots of flowers along its stem, Dwyer said.


Dwyer said Takii would have sent even more seeds, but no more space was available at the 20-acre gardens.


To see the new varieties at their peak, Dwyer recommends visiting the gardens between July and September. The trial flowers will be labeled and featured in composition displays.



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