As Applewood specializes in open-pollinated flower varieties, it is important for us to help maintain distinctive traits that can get lost through the repetition of crop seed production over many years. We routinely hand-select and hand-pollinate flower varieties in our isolation tents every season to help maintain variety purity. This is an additional quality assurance that we can provide to our customers. We perform grow-outs in our trial gardens to insure that all lots are true-to-type and perform well. Additional areas that are explored in our field trials include the development of seed production protocols, adaptability, planting rates, site preparation, weed control, and maintenance. We also test many seed mixtures for aesthetic qualities and to insure that the proportion of each single species is appropriate for that assortment of species and varieties. Results of our research can be found throughout our website.
Unfortunately, popular garden flower varieties are in danger of disappearing if they are not maintained. Hundreds of garden flower varieties have been created over the centuries, and it is difficult to recreate these from scratch. Zinnia ‘Sombrero’ (Zinnia elegans) is an old variety from Bodger Seed which has gone through this exact variety improvement process (VIP). We acquired our stock seed long ago from a retailer that was going out of business. After growing out the seed in our garden trials, we noticed many off-types. After 3 years of variety improvement, the difference is remarkable. Additional OP varieties that have gone through our VIP include the Zinnia ‘Luminosa’ (Zinnia elegans) and China Aster ‘Powder Puff’ (Callistephus chinensis) to name a few. Before and after photos from the VIP are shown for comparison from start to finish.