To celebrate its 80th anniversary, All-America Selections (AAS) debuted a landscape design contest for its AAS Display Gardens. The independent, non-profit organization required participants to incorporate past and present AAS Winners in their design submissions.
Submissions were categorized based on the number of visitors to that garden in one year.
Mississippi State University-South Mississippi Branch Experiment Station (Poplarville, Miss.) won the top prize for gardens with fewer than 10,000 visitors per year. With a theme of “Bridging the Seasons with All-America Selections,” the South Mississippi Branch Experiment Station precisely planted and labeled AAS Winners according to the season.
LSU Burden Center (Baton, Rouge, La.) missed out on the top prize but finished second because of its ability to provide education to children focusing on vegetable, herb and butterfly garden paintings. The Burden Center used 23 AAS Winners in a location next to its Le Jarden des Enfants.
Parker Scripture Botanical Gardens, Cornell (Oriskany, N.Y.), took third place with a beautifully constructed raised-bed design. The garden also scored points for its engagement with the local Future Farmers of America and for its well-documented publicity.
Horticultural Art Society Demonstration Garden (Colorado Springs, Colo.) topped gardens with 10,001-100,000 visitors per year with a theme of “Winners through the Decades.” The Horticultural Art Society combined vertical gardening, raised beds and square foot gardening and highlighted local sourcing by purchasing 90 percent of the past AAS Winners from local retailers.
Agriculture Canada Ornamental Gardens (Ottawa) finished second with a theme of “Birds, Bees and Butterflies Buffet.” Incorporating many AAS Winners that attract urban wildlife, Agriculture Canada specifically chose AAS Winners that were tough, resilient and an excellent food source for the wildlife.
Toledo Botanical Garden (Toledo, Ohio) took third with its display, which was designed with youngsters in mind because its AAS Landscape Design area was situated next to its Children’s Garden. Toledo Botanical sensibly mixed some of the newer AAS Winners with popular heirlooms to show and explain the advantages of both.
Rotary Botanical Gardens (Janesville, Wis.) reigned supreme in gardens with more than 100,000 visitors per year with its expertly designed garden beds that were bursting with color. Rotary used an impressive 127 AAS Winners in its landscape design—the highest number of any contest entry.
Denver Botanic Gardens (Denver, Colo.) finished second by presenting a thoughtful design using AAS Winners in numerous color palettes, located in a high-traffic event area. Denver Botanic incorporated edibles in an ornamental display, which was a very clever way to use both vegetable and flower AAS Winners, and donated the vegetable produce to a local food pantry.
Marjory McNeely Conservatory (Minneapolis, Minn.) took third by using its Welcome Garden as the focal point of the entrance to its conservatory, bringing AAS Winners front and center to visitors. The Conservatory built around its already established perennial grasses and was able to create an eye-catching design that offered perennials and annuals in a great combination, using texture to full advantage.