Society & Culture

The Trial Gardens at UGA to host 30th annual open house July 14

Trial Gardens open house 2012 - blooms and hanging baskets-h.env
Blooms in every color will be on display July 14 as part of the annual open house at the Trial Gardens at UGA.

Athens, Ga. – Over the past three decades, the Trial Gardens at the University of Georgia have introduced home gardeners and landscape designers to thousands of new plant varieties. As the gardens’ staff prepares to welcome the public to the 30th annual open house on July 14 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., hundreds of new plants will be on display, and a special preview reception will be held July 13 from 7-9 p.m.

Every year at the Trial Gardens’ open house, visitors have the chance to get an up-close look at a new class of vetted ornamentals ranging from gorgeous flowers and spectacular roses to hardy bulbs.

“We enjoy sharing the beauty of the garden and highlighting some of the new plants that people can plant in their gardens,” said Allan Armitage, a UGA horticulture professor and the gardens’ founder. “After all, where is it written that research has to be ugly?”

Located on the UGA campus in Athens between Snelling Dining Hall and the pharmacy building, the gardens display hundreds of annuals and perennials from plant breeders around the world.

The garden is always open to the public free of charge, but the open house gives visitors a chance to learn inside knowledge about this year’s most promising plant varieties.

Dozens of new rose varieties that will hit the market next year will be on display. Vegetables designed for the patio and porch will be highlighted and include squash, peppers, tomatoes and eggplant.

Armitage, who directs the gardens, will give tours throughout the day and will hold a book signing. His recent titles will be on sale at the open house.

The open house will include an heirloom tomato tasting, featuring 17 varieties of tomatoes grown in the trial gardens this summer. This year the staff ran trials on heirloom and new patio variety tomatoes, said B.J. Garrett, open house coordinator and gardens volunteer, adding that a tomato tasting is the best way to let gardeners get to know a tomato variety and decide whether they want to plant it next year.

Planters designed by the gardens’ staff will be available for sale.

The open house will be held rain or shine, and a donation of $5 is requested.

The preview event, a “Summer Evening in the Gardens,” on July 13 will feature a reception, garden tours with Armitage and first pick of plants available for sale. Admission to the event is $5, and space is limited. To make reservations, contact Brooke Pridemore at or 770/364-3089.

Parking for both events will be available in the South Campus parking deck.

The Trial Gardens are located at 220 W. Green St., Athens, Ga. 30602. For more information, see or email