Society & Culture

Trial Gardens at UGA to host public open house July 18

Trial Gardens industry
A green industry representative inspects the 2015 collection of annuals at the Trial Gardens at UGA during the industry open house in June. The gardens' staff will be hosting its annual public open house July 18.

Athens, Ga. – For more than three decades, the Trial Gardens at the University of Georgia have introduced thousands of new plant varieties to home gardeners and landscape designers. On Saturday, July 18, from 9 a.m. to noon, the public will have a firsthand glimpse of these new ornamentals—as well as longtime favorites—at the gardens’ annual open house.

This year, the garden staff is in the process of updating the perennials section and has implemented new technologies to reduce pathogens and weeds in the soil in order to produce healthier plants. Many of the newest perennials, annuals and show-stopping roses will be in full bloom during the open house.

Located on the UGA campus between Snelling Dining Commons and the pharmacy building, the lush oasis displays hundreds of annuals and perennials from plant breeders around the world.

“The Trial Gardens at UGA are one the best kept secrets in northeast Georgia,” said John Ruter, a UGA horticulturist and Trial Gardens director. “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 exclusive knowledge about this year’s most promising plant varieties. Ruter will lead tours throughout the day, showcasing some of the new additions.

He will also be signing copies of his newest book, “Landscaping with Conifers and Ginkgo for the Southeast.” Copies of the book will be available for purchase at the open house.

Plant nurseries and breeding companies send hundreds of new plants each year and fund the gardens by paying to have their plants evaluated. The goal of the Trial Gardens is to see if the plants can survive in the Southeast’s hot and rainfall-variable climate. The funds go toward the gardens’ upkeep and a team of students who work to keep the gardens running.

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

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, 220 W. Green St., Athens.

Parking will be available in the S10 lot located next to the McPhaul Center across from Stegeman Coliseum. Additional parking will be available in the South Campus parking deck. For more information, email or call Juliet Swanson at 770-298-9151. To learn more about the Trial Gardens, visit