One of the largest gardens at the arboretum is the Annual Color Trials Garden, where each year over 700 varieties of annuals and tender perennials are planted, with each plant carefully recorded, its performance evaluated, then rated for size, color, hardiness, etc. Flowering plants obviously dominate, but there are also beds of vegetables and beautiful foliage plants, too. This is also the most wide-open area, as trees are hardy. (Der.) The very best varieties of each plant as tested in all 21 national testing sites are declared AAS (All-American Selections) Winners and are made immediately available for sale and distribution.
Holy Coleus, Batman. I used to take cuttings of these (which are perennials in Santa Cruz) and keep them in water long enough to sprout roots, then plant them. (I also had a habit of “taking samples” of any geranium that caught my eye and jamming into the soil in our yard, because, the Bay Area is the perfect climate for geraniums.)
I have a real love of coleus for its amazingly colorful foliage, so I took a bunch of coleus photos. Deal with it.
There is even a large section for testing hanging basket plants.
It was amazing to be surrounded by such beauty. As the seasons change, so do the beds. I look forward to the winter garden, but the idea of spring bulbs is really making me excited.