November 3, 2002 | By: Janet Eaton, Ag. Communications Intern

Kentucky gardening enthusiasts are providing important information to the nursery and greenhouse industry in the state by doing what they do best; growing flowers.

Five years ago a program designed to educate consumers on new flower varieties was developed that subsidized trial gardens in communities across Kentucky. The program, part of an agricultural diversification effort to strengthen the nursery and greenhouse business in Kentucky, brought together members of the community and local Extension horticulture agents to run the trial gardens.

"The great part of this program is that it is local," said Bob Anderson, University of Kentucky Extension floriculture and greenhouse specialist.

Anderson chooses the varieties grown in the gardens and welcomes the opportunity to introduce specialty plants to gardeners who normally would not get a chance to see them. If many gardeners become familiar with a variety, a demand will be created.

In most counties, volunteers form the Master Gardener program work with the horticulture agent to manage and evaluate the garden. In Jefferson County, however, the garden is located at the Louisville Zoological Gardens where it is visible and open to the zoo visitors.

"The purpose of the program is educating the public about different varieties of plants," Anderson said.

When gardeners are familiar with a variety seen in one of the gardens they will look for it at their local gardening center. These trials give the greenhouse industry vital feedback on emerging trends and customer reaction to the different varieties so they can plan which varieties to grow.

Periodically the county projects report the status of each variety to Anderson who compiles the information for an annual report to the nursery and greenhouse industry. Results also are available to anyone with Internet access through the garden flower web site at


Bob Anderson  859-257-4721