You won”t have time to vegetate at this field day – you”ll be too busy checking out more than 400 unique flowers and vegetables growing in the gardens at the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences West Madison Research Station.
Tomatoes will include extra early and heirloom varieties, husk tomatoes, and varieties chosen for flavor. Peppers will include North Star Hybrid, Big Red, Diamond, Queen and Taurus. Among the ornamental corn and popcorn varieties you”ll find Bloody Butcher, Wilda”s Pride, rainbow corn, Little Boy Blue, Ruby Red, Shaman”s Blue and Big Chief. The pumpkin patch will feature all sizes and colors, including newly available heirloom varieties.
Herbs will include parsley, dill, fennel and basil; medicinal plants will feature milk thistle and St. John”s wort. The gardens will also have Przemko poppy, a low-opium poppy whose seeds can be used on rolls and bread. Opium poppies produce ideal seeds for cooking, but are illegal to grow and sell in this country. “This cultivar is the first to my knowledge that has a low enough potential opium content to be legal to sell and grow,” says CALS horticulturist Helen Harrison. “It”s the second year it”s been on the market, but last year we couldn”t get the seeds to germinate. If this is successful, I think it will be very popular with Wisconsinites.”
Bedding plants will include unusual petunias, single, semi-double and double impatiens, cosmos, sunflowers, edible calendulas, and a variety of cut & dry flowers including amaranths, castor beans and zinnias.
UW-Madison faculty and staff will be on hand to answer gardening questions. Admission is free; guidebooks with brief descriptions of all featured plants will cost $1. Tours will be held at 3 p.m., 4 p.m., 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. The field day will run from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 20 at the West Madison Agricultural Research Station, 8502 Mineral Point Road (west of the Beltline).