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Longfield Gardens Blog

A Midsummer Tour of Our Trial Garden

Posted by Kath LaLiberte on Jul 7, 2017

Trial Garden Update - Longfield Gardens

August is just a couple days away, and in our New Jersey trial garden the heat is definitely ON!  We are located in the eastern part of the state about 10 miles from the ocean and summertime temperatures are typically in the 90’s.

This 3/4 acre garden, was (not very long ago) a scrub-covered empty lot behind our warehouse and offices. Eventually there will be some tree cover, but for now the only way to escape from the sun is to hang out under the shade netting along with the potted plants. overview-1

Tulipsdaffodils and other spring-blooming bulbs occupy the garden until mid-May, so almost everything that’s here now has only been in the ground for 8 or 9 weeks. It’s a testament to the incredible energy contained inside every flower bulb!


Lilies Galore

This summer we are growing hundreds of Oriental lilies. The fragrance is heavenly!

Trial Garden Update Lilies - Longfield Gardens

Happily, there are lots more blossoms ahead…


Cannas love hot weather — the more heat the better.  Below you can see pots of Tropicanna Gold and Tropicanna Black. We will be using these plants to bulk up containers and garden beds.  You can do the same thing at home. Buy a few extra cannas, lilies and dahlias and grow them in pots.  When gaps appear in the garden, just pop in one of the reserves.


By July, the soil is warm and caladiums are practically leaping out of the ground. Below you see pink Carolyn Whorton, a caladium mix and the lovely white caladium Candidum,

Trial Garden Update Caladiums - Longfield Gardens

We added several varieties of elephant ears to our line last spring. Hawaiian Punch is one of the new ones and it continues to impress us. The teal green leaves have burgundy-purple stems.

Trial-Garden-Update-elephant ears - Longfield-Gardens

The plants shown above are growing under shade netting, but most of the garden is in full sun. Some of these beds contain a mix of shrubs and perennials, and others are display beds that we reserve for testing various plant combinations.

Trial Garden Update Elephant Ears - Longfield Gardens

We also grow in large, patio-size containers. Besides tracking performance at the variety level, we are also looking for plants that will be good companions in terms of texture, height, color and bloom time. Containers make it easy to see what works and what doesn’t.

Trial-Garden-Update Liatris and Elephant Ears - Longfield-Gardens

Most of the border dahlias are now in full bloom, but the standard dahlias and dinnerplates need another week or two before they are really cranking out the flowers. I’ll be back with another trial garden update at the end of August!

Trial Garden Update Dahlia Art Nouveau - Longfield Gardens
Border dahlia Gallery Art Deco

Topics: Lilies Spring Planted Bulbs Summer Blooming Bulbs Summer Bulbs

Kathleen LaLiberte has been writing about gardening for more than 30 years from her home in northern Vermont, where she tends a half acre of flowers, vegetables and fruit. She has been working with Longfield Gardens since 2011.

8 Replies to “A Midsummer Tour of Our Trial Garden”

  1. Thank u for the photos & info!
    I bought caladiums this year & will order more for next year.
    Didn’t realize how easy they were to grow:)

  2. I would like to know if we can visit your trial Garden, and if so when. My husband and I are just into our second year of working and growing cut flower bulbs.

    1. Hi Margie — I am sorry, but at this point our trial garden is not open to the public. Also, we grow most of our bulbs in pots, so it probably wouldn’t be that useful for your cut flower business. Have you connected with It is a great resource for cut flower growers — Longfield Gardens is a sponsor. You’ll find tons of great articles and blog posts. Also, on the navigation bar, if you click on “find flowers”, then on “flower farmers”, you can use the map view to find growers in your area.

  3. I notice that your Elephant Ears appear to be growing in full sun. I thought that they could grow in morning sun and shade the rest of the day. Am I right? I suppose that you would have to water them more frequently grown in the sun. A couple of mine had a leaf burned. I thought they were getting too much sun.

    1. Hi Joanna,
      The elephant ears in our trial garden are growing in full sun — that’s pretty much all we have available. When it gets very hot during the middle of the summer, the leaves will sometimes show some damage. The plants get larger in full sun, but the foliage tends to be paler in color. Whether or not elephant ears will tolerate full sun really depends on where you live. In southern areas full sun may be more than the plants can handle. Growing in containers makes it easy to experiment!

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