The Best of the Test Garden: 2010

These 10 plants proved outstanding in our variety trials.

By Doug Hall

Photography by Christa Neu


‘Pinot Noir’ Bell Pepper
Source: W. Atlee Burpee & Co.
pinot noir bell<br />

Several of our test gardeners reported that ‘Pinot Noir’ was the first pepper to fruit in their gardens, and it performed well in cooler climates that are not always favorable to peppers. The plants were weighed down with fruits that undergo a color transformation, starting pale green with purple streaks and finishing bright red. The flavor was good at all color stages but especially sweet when fully red.

“Crunchy, juicy, and absolutely beautiful. I love the yummy range of colors, from shades of berries and melons and bicolors to lilac and dark purple. I took some to show off at a chef’s market and they were the first to sell—at $4 a pound.” —Leslie Doyle, Las Vegas, Nevada

‘Moonsong Deep Orange’ Marigold
Source: All-America Selections winner; widely available
moonsong deep<br />
oragnce marigold

Packed with crinkly orange petals, the 3-inch blossoms of this hybrid marigold held up beautifully to the heat, humidity, and storms of summer. The 15-inch-tall plants were bushy with healthy foliage, and they continued to bloom until frost. Plants looked tidier when we took a moment every week to clip off the spent blooms.

“I certainly didn’t fuss over this marigold, and it just kept pumping out the blooms.” —Linda Crago, Wellandsport, Ontario