CNGA LooseLeaf Aug/Sept 2019

11 LooseLeaf  Aug/Sept 2019 colorad o California Trials for 2020 Plant Ordering The annual California Spring Trials (CAST) happens each spring, when plant and seed buyers visit several sites up and down the Pacific coast. Each year, Welby Gardens sends a team, and the 2019 group consisted of five members including Welby Gardens Program Manager Mandy Gerace. Plus, they were joined by Dr. James Klett from Colorado State University. “CAST gives us the opportunity to preview new varieties to add to our program and to connect with our suppliers. We also trial many of the new varieties throughout the year and for our grower trial event in August. We will have most of these items in Welby’s August trials,” said Gerace. “I haven’t found statistics on how many people attend, but several hundred people visit each site each day. It is more than 10,000 people who come from all over North America.” She and her colleagues flew to Santa Barbara and started in Santa Paula, visiting Ball Horticulture and GreenFuse Botanicals. They worked their way up the coast and ended in the Salinas Valley in Gilroy, visiting Danziger and Syngenta Flowers. “We typically put about 800 miles on the rental vehicles within five days,” Gerace explained. “We not only fill our days with visiting all the trial sites, which include visiting our vendors. We meet breeders who are an interesting group of people, and they sometimes show us what they are working on that is several years from public release. It’s fun to be able to really talk to them, and get to know all these people on a personal level.” In addition to the nurseries and farms, each site features very inspiring displays. The hosts don’t hold back, so displays can be pretty extravagant and spectacular, she added. Here are several new and trending plants that really stood out to her and Klett. Mandy Gerace Dr. Jim Klett continues on next page » Photos courtesy of Welby Gardens