Editor’s note: In our June issue, we brought you the first part of our highlights from the 2016 California Spring Trials, including field trials, creative marketing, grower-focused breeding and interesting plant combinations. You can read "West Coast Stars" at http://bit.ly/28PA32Z if you missed it last month.

Show-stopping succulents

Creative combinations by Robyn Foreman at Dümmen Orange's BarrelHouse Brewing Company stop
Photos: Karen E. Varga

These drought-tolerant, easy-to-grow plants had their day in the sun (or shade) at this year’s trials.

Some of Succulent Gardens' handiwork at the HMA Plants area
Photos: Karen E. Varga

HMA Plants worked with a local design company, Succulent Gardens, to create their succulents fantasyland at the American Takii stop.

Dümmen Orange brought in a succulents expert, Robyn Foreman, to create an inspiring collection of container combinations and beer-inspired displays at its BarrelHouse Brewing Company location.

Putting more emphasis on perennials

Photos: Karen E. Varga

Perennials had a strong showing at this year’s trials, both as standalone varieties and as combinations. Here are some of the ones that caught our eye.

The Lupine Staircase series was introduced at Green Fuse Botanicals at part of their First Light Perennials program. Five striking colors were on display, including Blue, Rose-White (1), White, Scarlet-Yellow, Red and Yellow.

At Darwin Perennials, we honed in on new Uptick coreopsis (2a-b) and Mirage salvia (2c) varieties with tidy habits and improved shippability for growers. Visit http://bit.ly/28QbaDK to watch “Ship shape perennials" and learn more.

Dümmen Orange debuted a new program made up of 15 interchangeable perennials varieties with matching habit and flowering time that growers can use to create their own first-year flowering container mixes. Growers can choose from from two to five varieties for a 14-inch container combo. Zoltan Kovacs, perennials product manager, gave us more detail in the video “A recipe for perennials success” on greenhousemag.com, and his favorite 5-variety combo is shown here (3).

Over at Proven Winners’ new Spring Trials site at Kirigin Cellars winery, Karin Walters and Christa Steenwyk of Walters Gardens shared a few crowd favorites among their new perennials. One of the standouts was a heucherella named ‘Hopscotch’ in the Fun and Games series, with its vigorous habit and bronze red, lobed leaves with a dark red center (4).

Golden State Bulb Growers debuted several new calla lily varieties, including Peppermint Twist (5). Also watch out for a new eucomis variety debuting at Cultivate’16.

Terra Nova Nurseries had several new perennials introductions, but one of the favorites was ‘Plum Cascade,’ a purple heucherella with a trailing habit (6a-b).

Edibles on center stage

Photos: Karen E. Varga

As in the past, we saw many new edibles introductions, packaging, combinations and ideas.

While the plants at HGTV HOME Plant Collection weren’t necessarily all new introductions, what stood out was the retail-ready Patio Veggies & Herbs 3-Pak Combo, an attractive option for consumers and a way to sell more plants per customer (1). Another plant with packaging pizazz was ABZ Seeds’ new Delizz strawberry (2).

The Culinary Couture collection from Hort Couture got a facelift this year and added 30 new varieties that will be released in 2017 and 2018. These plants were selected for their taste as well as visual appeal and ability to be grown well in containers. Shown here are some varieties in the Tomato Mixology collection (3).

Bubble Berry, whose taste is reminiscent of bubblegum, was the fragrant strawberry introduced by Pacific Plug & Liner this year (4).

When it comes to attractive edible-ornamental combinations in the landscape and in containers, Sakata (5) and American Takii (6) had some showy displays.