Trial Garden History
The Trial Garden began at the W. D. Holley Plant Environmental Research Center (PERC), located at 630 W. Lake Street on the Colorado State University campus. PERC was in operation from 1971 to 2016. In 1992, Dr. James E. Klett began his role as Director of PERC and became the Faculty Coordinator for the trial program. David Staats also joined the department around this time as a Horticulture Research Associate. Together Dr. Klett and David Staats orchestrate all of the activities required to produce a beautiful garden and successful trial program each year. more
The Pansy Trial program was initiated in 2003 to evaluate the capability of various Pansy and Viola varieties to overwinter in the Northern Colorado climate. The trial is also considered to be a Cool-season Crop Overwintering Trial, as we have trialed other genera, such as Delphinium and Dianthus, in the past. The Perennial Trial was initiated in the fall of 2006 at the request of our advisory committee. The intention of this trial is to test only newer perennial cultivars introduced in the past three years or less.
Relocation to a New Site
Year after year, the number of participants in the trial and the number of entries in the trial grew, leading to the demand for more and more space. In 2000, the Annual Flower Trial Garden was moved from its site at PERC to the park on Remington Street that is just across from the newly remodeled CSU Center for Arts, which was the old Fort Collins High School building. more
The relocation of the garden to this more spacious and visible site furthered its mission by more effectively extending education, research and outreach to students, home gardeners, Master Gardeners, community members and Green Industry personnel. The 2.9 acre park features an additional 5,000 square feet of bedding plant space, resulting in 20,000 total square feet of bed space available for planting.
In 2016 a new Multi-purpose Stadium was built on the PERC site and the Perennial Demonstration Garden was moved just north of the CSU Center for the Arts and the Perennial Trials. Due to its close proximity of the Perennial Trials and the Annual Flower Trial across the street, the site is becoming known as the Fort Collins Garden and Art District. Where as the Perennial Trial is a research site for newly developed plants within the past three years, the Perennial Demo Garden is a research site to observe perennials over a longer term.