Horticulture field day to feature hundreds of ornamental varieties

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OVERTON – The 2018 East Texas Horticultural Field Day will feature more than 500 ornamental plant and vegetable trial varieties for public viewing, along with presentations by experts at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Overton.

The event, slated for June 28, will be held rain or shine.

Gardeners, professional landscape managers and seed company representatives can learn which landscape plants and vegetables do well under East Texas conditions, said Dr. Brent Pemberton, Texas A&M AgriLife Research ornamental horticulturist.

Pemberton said he started the trials in 1993 to meet the needs of commercial seed companies, local nursery managers and gardening enthusiasts.

There is no cost to attend or for the barbecue lunch, but organizers ask that attendees RSVP by June 22 for an accurate meal count. The field day will begin with registration at 8:30 a.m. at the center’s East Farm, 2 miles east of Overton on Texas Highway 135 N.

The ornamental trial garden is on County Road 133 just past the former Kilgore College Demonstration Farm.

“Directions to the trial garden will be available online and there will be signs placed to guide visitors,” Pemberton said.

A tour of ornamental trials at the demonstration garden at the Overton Center will follow.

The center headquarters are about 2 miles north of downtown Overton at 1710 Farm-to-Market Road 3053. For driving directions to the center or the East Farm site, go tohttps://flowers.tamu.edu/field-day/ or call 903-834-6191.

The field day will feature a variety of annual and perennial ornamentals, Pemberton said. Vegetable varieties will also be on display.

The trials include some standard varieties from previous tests, including both old and new varieties of petunias, pentas, salvias, verbenas, ornamental peppers and basil, he said.

“There are some very extensive trials with several varieties of these ornamental plants,” Pemberton said. “We have an exciting array of new salvias in new colors that are part of a breeding breakthrough that will be available to the public next year.”

Dr. Joe Masabni, AgriLife Extension vegetable specialist, will also present plants in ongoing vegetable trials at the center. This year, Masabni will feature grafted tomato varieties, including Creole, Big Boy, Sweet 100, Better Boy, Rutgers, Homestead and new varieties of dwarf okra, eggplant and peppers.

“We do try to assemble an extensive range of ornamental plants that perform well in this region for the field day, and highlight new varieties that no one has seen yet,” Pemberton said. “There will be quite a few edible ornamental varieties to coincide with a presentation regarding edible landscapes.”

The field day will move to the ornamental trials and demonstration garden at the Overton centerheadquarters from 10:30-11:45 a.m.

From 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m., a barbecue lunch will be provided courtesy of field day sponsors.

The afternoon speaker programs will be indoors at the Overton center’s Bruce McMillan Jr. Auditorium.

Speakers and topics:

— Pemberton, The Labor Day Report – What survived the summer?

— Jenny Wegley, Dallas Arboretum horticulture director, Latest Happenings at the Dallas Arboretum.

— Daniel Cunningham, program coordinator at Texas A&M AgriLife Research Water University, Dallas, Thought for Food: A Green Industry Trend.

— Dotty Woodson, AgriLife Extension water resource specialist, Dallas, Rain Barrel Demonstration.

Pemberton said prior to the trials there was little information available to greenhouse growers and the industry as to whether particular bedding plant varieties were suited to the East Texas climate and soils.

The bedding plant industry has had a $500 million annual economic impact in East Texas over the past decade, Pemberton said. Ornamental plants remain in high demand every planting season.

“There will be plenty of new additions to look at and some good new topics covered by our panel of experts,” Pemberton said.

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