The Chicago Botanic Garden’s evaluation program has looked at nearly 10,000 different plants during the past 30 years, most of which were included in one of the more than a hundred comparative trials, both big and small, that we have done so far. If you have read my articles over the years, you know that comparative trials are the best way to measure one plant’s merits against those of other similar plants. But not every plant ends up in a comparative trial; stand-alone plants have become more common in our trials due to generous support from plant introduction programs and independent nurseries. Sometimes these single plants whet my appetite for more, which leads to a larger study. That was the case for gentians (Gentiana spp., Zones 3–9) and mountain hydrangeas (Hydrangea serrata cvs., Zones 6–9). Whether they are standalone plants or ones from an unreported comparative trial, think of the…
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