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Bridge Gardens Participates in Plant Testing Partnership with Cornell University’s Long Island Horticultural Research Lab

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July 8, 2020

By Kathleen Kennedy

Did you know that annual and perennial plant trials are happening on Eastern Long Island as part of Cornell University’s research center in Riverhead?

The trial gardens are located at the Long Island Horticultural Research & Extension Center (LIHREC), 3059 Sound Avenue, Riverhead. This 68-acre facility is dedicated to serving the research and extension needs of the horticulture industries of Long Island. The facility includes agricultural fields and research plots, state of the art greenhouses, a nursery and container production area, and a plant tissue culture facility supporting the research projects ranging from grape and vegetable production to ornamentals and floriculture.

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Just a few years ago, Garden Director Rick Bogusch partnered with Dr. Mark Bridgen, Director at LIHREC, to participate in a trial of alstroemeria. This is a perennial best known for beautiful, multi-colored flowers that are long lived in cut flower bouquets.

We caught up with Dr. Bridgen this week and he shared, “Our field alstroemeria this year have been spectacular with the mild winter. Even now in the heat, they are doing well. While we have officially stopped breeding winter-hardy alstroemeria, the Lily-of-the-Inca, we are still working with them. We have about 10 new plants that we plan to introduce within the next 5 years, and we are propagating them to increase our numbers before introduction. Cornell University would like to patent some of these plants, so we are also working on the patent applications. Alstroemeria are not easy to propagate in large numbers, even in plant tissue culture. But, we are trying several different techniques to increase our numbers.”

From Rick’s point of view, “Mark’s alstroemerias are wonderful perennials, perfect for non-stop color in flower and shrub borders from June through September. The ones at Bridge Gardens have survived cold and mild winters without extra cover and have grown into large clumps with abundant blooms. They provide long-lasting bouquets for the house during summer and fall.”

When you visit the Gardens, look for their robust flowers along the brick pathway on the Mitchell Road-side of the Garden House and Information Center. You can’t miss them!

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