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Chadwick Arboretum & Learning Gardens

College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


Cultivar Trial Gardens

Cultivar Trials, Kathy Watson

The Cultivar Trial Gardens at The Ohio State University are located on the campus of the College of Food, Agriculture, and Environmental Sciences in the Chadwick Arboretum and Learning Gardens.

Faculty and staff worked with Chadwick volunteers and Franklin County Master Gardener Volunteers (MGV) to implement the trials. Chadwick horticulturist Anna Williamson was responsible for growing the plants and working with volunteers to manage the trials.  Julia Wilson, program manager, organized the volunteer workdays. Volunteers planted seeds and plugs, planted the trial beds, weeded, and assisted with the evaluation of the plots. The objective of the trials is to observe the performance of new and recently introduced annual cultivars under the environmental conditions of central Ohio.     

The plots have loamy, well-drained soil and have had compost each year of the trial. The beds were tilled before planting. Shade plants were in raised beds containing a soilless mix; shade cloth was provided for shade. 

The selection of plants to be trialed in the garden varies from year to year. The selection is based on entries from companies.  The results of performance for the plants are based on the data collected at the plots. The data reflects the growing conditions of 2023 in Columbus, Ohio. The purpose of the evaluation is to provide growers, landscapers, and homeowners with a tool for plant selection for the Midwest as well as to provide performance data to the breeders and companies.  


Kathy Watson, Sunbeckia  Coleus @Kathy Watson  Salvia @Kathy Watson  Veronic @Kathy Watson  

Growing our Cultivar Trials each year is only possible through the hard work and dedication of our volunteers! Here are a few fun facts about our 2023 trials:

  • Chadwick Arboretum & Learning Gardens at Ohio State University and Snyder Park Gardens and Arboretum in Springfield, Ohio, each grow the same varieties of annuals sent to them from breeders from around the country and are evaluated based on two levels of maintenance.
  • The cultivars are evaluated  throughout the summer by staff, students, and volunteers for performance and consumer appeal, and the results are posted on this page at the end of the growing season. We had about 25 volunteers evaluating in 2023. 
  • Planting takes place in May and plants are removed in October.
  • Chadwick Arboretum volunteers, along with our Cultivar Trials Lead employee, do everything from planting the seeds, to watering, to "adopting a bed" throughout the summer to keep them well maintained. It takes over 70 volunteers to handle everything! 
  • The trial gardens are always open to the public and are a favorite place to visit with beautiful color throughout the growing season. Bring your friends and family - and tag us on Instagram!


Trial Categories
Chadwick Cultivar TrialsChadwick Arboretum & Learning Gardens

The field trials feature ornamental bedding plants grown in the ground and in full sun. These gardens are located at the southeast corner of Fyffe Road and Woody Hayes Drive and will be exceptionally maintained as examples of how a cultivar can look with proper handling and maintenance. 



Springfield TrialsSnyder Park Gardens and Arboretum Cultivar Trials

The cultivar trials at Clark County will feature the bedding plants in the ground and in full sun, using the same stock of plants that are grown at Chadwick Arboretum. These gardens will have minimal maintenance and care.



Thank You 
Thank you to all the companies who participated in the trials in 2023. Thank you to Cultivate 23 for providing buses for attendees to visit the campus trials. More than 300 people attended the open house. A special thanks to our volunteers who assisted with a variety of tasks in these trials. Their dedication and hard work during the growing season kept the trials in excellent condition. 

Volunteers in 2023 were:  Kathy Krantz, Lead Organizer, Caye Aiello, Jill Alexander, Brenda Allinger, Jen Andon, Linda Bauer, Lynn Blanton, Margie Campbell, Alison Circle, Barb Dolce, Shaunessy Everett, Debbie Farynowski, Denise Fields, Ben Gantz, Lynn Giljahn, John Glacken, Loretta Graham, Jeff Harriman, Maggie Harriman, Stephanie Harrison, Jennie Hayes, Lori Kingston, Jennifer Kuehn, Suzy Levine, Patti Mikac, Christine Osterman, Susan Peck, Anne Rauck, Marianne Robinson, Debbie Roshto, Gail Walter, Marge Ward, Kathy Watson, Hope Weber, Rosie Wendt, and Carol Williams.

More Information 
Contact Pam Bennett, Professor with questions or comments: or 937-408-7900.