Multiple eye-catching colors and plants can be found throughout the Arboretum & Botanical Gardens at Pritchard Community Center in Elizabethtown. One of the more than 90 beds currently boasting a blooming arrangement is situated next to the butterfly garden nearest to South Mulberry Street and is part of a bedding plant trial.
Hardin County Extension Agent Amy Aldenderfer said the plant trial is through the University of Kentucky. She said the Hardin County Extension Service has participated in the program probably since 2000.
This year, however, with the office’s ongoing move to a new building off Ring Road, Aldenderfer said they reached out to Ed and Joni Webb, who maintain the gardens at Pritchard and other horticulture around the city, to see about hosting the trial.
Ed said they had a bed prepared because they have been interested in having a test garden at Pritchard, where they could see how different plants faired in Kentucky’s climate.
“We had this blank slate here already prepared,” he said. “It was just perfect.”
The trial bed includes 200 plants, 10 each of 20 different varieties. The plants are arranged in rows, which Joni said looks like a “rainbow.”
“If somebody liked these and wanted this color in their garden every year they can come and look and see how well it takes in E’town in our climate,” Ed said.
Joni agreed, stating, “They can take a picture of the sign and know what the plant is.”
The test plants have signs marking what’s in each row. There is also an evaluation box on site for people to rate the plants on their appearance and how they are holding up in the Kentucky weather.
Aldenderfer said information garnered from the evaluations is sent to UK to be recorded and eventually placed in the annual research report. Aldenderfer said anybody in the public is welcome to complete the evaluation form, referring to the trial bed as “The citizens’ scientist project.”
“Although master gardeners are great at doing it, more data is better,” she said. “We want everybody to join in.”
The trial will go until about October.
The Arboretum & Botanical Gardens has more than 90 beds that Ed and Joni mulch each year and thousands of flowers, both perennials and annuals. The Webbs have worked there since 2016.