Aug. 6 is Evaluation Day at Colorado State University Trial Garden

Note to Reporters: This event is not open the public. This media advisory is intended for reporter use only. Reporters who would like to cover the event should contact Jennifer Dimas at (970) 491-1543 or

As the Olympics continue in London, a different kind of fierce competition will unfold Monday in northern Colorado’s largest and most stunning flower garden.

Dozens of judges will descend on Colorado State University’s Annual Flower Trial Garden to choose the best-performing flowers from about 1,100 varieties of annuals and perennials planted in the showy garden. Evaluators will inspect flower varieties for overall growth, bloom and other factors.

Reporters and photographers are invited to chronicle the process. The daylong evaluation will start at 9 a.m. Monday, Aug. 6, at the Annual Flower Trial Garden, 1401 Remington St., Fort Collins (

The Trial Garden, a northern Colorado showpiece and CSU gem, spans nearly 3 acres and is the largest university trial garden west of the Mississippi River. The Trial Garden draws visitors from near and far, but has a distinct research focus: The cultivars planted here are scrutinized for their ability to flourish in Colorado’s harsh growing conditions, and the varieties deemed winners are touted to home gardeners who want to cultivate their green thumbs.

“Evaluations at the Trial Garden ultimately help home gardeners and the horticultural industry tremendously because results help gardeners choose what to plant. With the information we provide, gardeners will be more successful in getting the best plants for the Rocky Mountain and High Plains regions,” said Jim Klett, garden coordinator and a professor in the CSU Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture.

Evaluation results will be compiled as a list of best-performing varieties in a number of popular genera, such as dahlia, petunia, geranium, impatiens and verbena. Judges also will identify best-performing plants in the categories of new variety, novelty – and, of course, best of show.

As Colorado gardeners know, it’s tough to grow plants in the region’s challenging conditions – marked by a compressed growing season, intense light, and low natural moisture, often interspersed with monsoon rains, wind and hail. Indeed, the 2012 growing season is notable for a statewide drought.

About 100 evaluators will analyze flowers for their ability to abound in these conditions. The judges include university experts, public horticulturalists, representatives from seed and plant companies, and CSU Extension master gardeners. Evaluators will be available for interviews during the process.

“Evaluation day is the culmination of all the work that goes on out here,” said Paul Freebury, a senior studying environmental horticulture. He leads a team of five CSU students who work in the garden and also will be available for interviews. “There’s a lot of responsibility here for a pretty small crew. But when you have a chance to step back and see everything in bloom, it’s very satisfying.”

Wondering about winners from the 2011 CSU Annual Flower Trial Garden? Find them at