Society & Culture

UGA Trial Gardens to host 32nd annual open house

Trial Gardens open house 2012 - people in garden-h.env
A crowd browses the Trial Gardens at UGA at an industry open house in early summer 2012.

Best new landscape plants for Georgia on display July 12 at UGA Trial Gardens Open House

Athens, Ga. – Over the last three decades, the University of Georgia Trial Gardens have introduced home gardeners and landscape designers to thousands of new plant varieties. The public will have the chance to get a first look at these new varieties and some tried and true Georgia favorites at the gardens’ annual open house July 12 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Every year at the trial gardens’ open house, visitors get an up close view of a new class of vetted ornamentals—ranging from brilliantly colored flowers to hardy shrubs.

Dozens of new perennials should be in bloom during this year’s open house, in addition to an array of roses and the gardens’ 2014 rotation of annuals, said John Ruter, a UGA horticulturalist and director of the trial gardens.

“The Trial Gardens at UGA are one the best kept secrets in northeast Georgia,” Ruter said. “Our annual open house is our chance to share one the most beautiful parts of the UGA campus with the community and share some of what we’ve learned over our last year gardening.”

The gardens are always open to the public, but the open house will give visitors inside knowledge about this year’s most promising plant varieties. Ruter will give tours throughout the day, focusing on some of the new additions to the gardens.

This year marks Ruter’s first at the trial gardens, and he looks forward to highlighting his first crop of test plants, he said. The open house will showcase some advanced selections from his breeding programs as well as lesser-known varieties.

“We have some petunias that have done fantastic this spring and a large selection of Madagascar periwinkles that should be in bloom for the open house,” Ruter said.

Located on the UGA campus between Snelling Dining Commons and the R. C. Wilson Pharmacy Building, the gardens display hundreds of annuals and perennials from plant breeders around the world.

Plant nurseries and breeding companies send hundreds of new plants each year and fund the gardens by paying to have their plants evaluated. Their goal is to see if their plants can survive in the hot and rainfall-variable Southeast. The money goes toward the gardens’ upkeep and a team of student workers who keep the gardens running.

The trial gardens also serve as a teaching and research facility for the UGA department of horticulture and other academic departments.

The open house will be held rain or shine. The gardens staff requests a $5 donation to help offset the cost of the event and support the gardens, located at 220 West Green St., Athens. Parking will be available in the South Campus parking deck. For more information, see or email