In Virginia, if you talk about the sporting life, almost everyone thinks that you’re talking about football or some other game of sport or maybe fox hunting, here in Virginia that's big. But I’m actually talking about how plants can move around in a garden and change color, shape and size. I think people can make a lot of money on the sporting life of plants. I would imagine lots of the new plants that make it big out there in the gardening world are just random sports that an observant person noticed in a garden. I have been pleasantly surprised with some of my own sports, and laughably disappointed in others. The sports or seedlings I have found need to hold up to a couple of seasons of trials before we at Morningside give them names and turn them loose on our customers (OK I am lying a little bit, I name them all). The two plants that seem to sport the most for us are tall summer phlox and the old fashioned garden mums. So I will start off with my phlox experience. After neglecting one of our gardens for a few years, there seemed to be phlox colors I hadn't planted in that garden, could they be worthy sports? I watched these new plants for powdery mildew and made sure I really loved the colors so different then the parents, they seemed like they had potential. At the end of the season I dug them up and moved them to another garden where I could keep an eye of them and trial them for a year or so.
This was their first year of flowering in their new home and my gosh, what was I thinking? They looked just like two other phlox we already have and one of them got powdery mildew so badly I had to cut it down. How could I have thought they were special? One of my problems is I don't have a real trial garden where they can be separated and spaced to really see what they look like. I just mixed them up in my overflowing garden and what happened? Not good. By the end of the season I didn't know what was what anymore. So cross off the new phlox for now. On a happier note, the new garden mum is still a stand out going into its third year. Beautiful color, nice habit, a great plant in the late summer/early fall garden. This year two more mums decided to sport and I’m thinking we should start a new mum line, call it something catchy, and make a million. I wonder how many I would have to sell to make a million?