Winner’s Circle By Carrie Burns and Elizabeth Pensgard

As tradition dictates, the 2003 winners for next year’s growing season have been chosen from the following: All-America Selections, Fleuroselect and All-America Rose Selections. Judges for all three associations used a standardized grading system that scored how well the variety performed during the trialing period, measuring disease-resistance, hardiness, color and novelty in test gardens across the United States.

All-America Selections

The unique plant feature of Agastache foeniculum’Golden Jubilee’ is the golden foliage that gently modulates tolime-green on the lower leaves, creating pronounced and commanding colors inthe garden. Golden Jubilee performs well in full sun or partial shade and willinitiate buds during the long days of summer. Dense spikes of lavender-blueflorets crown the plants and contrast with its golden foliage for a strikingdisplay. Another feature is the strong mint fragrance when leaves are crushed.Mature plants can reach 20 inches tall and spread 10-15 inches.

Dianthus caryophyllus‘Can Can Scarlet’ is a full-flowering, vibrant red carnation thatis bred to perform in the garden. This vigorous, easy-to-grow variety produceslarge, double flowers on strong, 16-inch stems, and when used in largerplantings, produces a sensational sea of uniform color (also awarded byFleuroselect).

Dianthus chinensis‘Corona Cherry Magic’ is the first Dianthus with a capriciousbicolor pattern of variable cherry-red and lavender. Plants will flower earlyand will produce 2-inch flowers. Corona Cherry Magic was tested in thegreenhouse as well as the trial grounds, for plant quality and bedding plantperformance, and it was rated superior. Corona Cherry Magic flowers freelythroughout the growing season. Mature plants reach 7-9 inches tall, spreadingabout 8-10 inches in a full-sun location.

The first white flowering Eustoma that thrives in a sunnygarden, ‘Forever White’ exhibited superior garden performance inAAS Trials across North America. The 12-inch, compact branching plant floweredfrom spring to fall, with 2-inch, ivory-white blooms that covered the plant atvarious times throughout the growing season. Because of the branching habit,fewer plants or plugs are needed to produce a full, high-quality pot plant.

Gaillardia ‘Sundance Bicolor’ is an unusualbicolor containing mahogany-red and yellow flowers. The 2-inch, globe-shapedcomposite flowers are primarily double. Proven at trial ground locations,Sundance Bicolor shows heat and drought tolerances and is low maintenance, withno pinching or staking. Judges also noted that Sundance Bicolor has thepotential for nonstop blooming throughout the growing season, and plants arerelatively pest-free.

A stately plant reaching 3-5 feet, Pennisetum ‘PurpleMajesty’ ornamental millet has wide, purple leaf blades and isembellished with 8- to 12-inch flower spikes that mature to reddish-purple seedspikes. The immature or Á mature seed spikes can be cut and used infloral arrangements. Left on the plant, the spike attracts birds that snack onthe seed. Purple Majesty is very tolerant of heat and drought.

Trailing Petunia ‘Blue Wave’ has dark blue,velvety, 2-inch blooms that cover the plant for the entire growing season. Fromplanting to frost, Blue Wave provides a steady stream of color in any full-sungarden. The spreading habit is similar to ‘Purple Wave’, with thepotential for Blue Wave to spread 3-4 feet in one growing season. Mature plantheight can be 4-7 inches. Plants also recover quickly from severe weather (alsoawarded by Fleuroselect).

Petunia ‘Merlin Blue Morn’ offers gardeners aunique bicolor pattern. The 2-inch single blooms are white with a softtransition to velvety blue on the edge. This bicolor design has consumer appealand will translate into impulse sales since it stands out among othermultiflora petunias. The blue and white pattern of Merlin Blue Morn isdesirable due to the cooling effect of these colors on a hot summer afternoon.

Rudbeckia hirta‘Prairie Sun’ has a stunning light/dark yellow combination, sturdyupright stems and excellent weather resistance. It produces the unique colorcombination of a dark green “cone” at the center and golden-yellowpetals with pale edges. Its stems grow to a height of approximately 31 inchesand flower abundantly from July until October (also awarded by Fleuroselect).

Vinca ‘JaioDark Red’ is described as the “best red yet in vinca” by anAAS Judge. The velvety, opulent deep red color is distinctive, and each large2-inch bloom has a contrasting small white center. Jaio Dark Red was tested ingreenhouses and given high scores for the compact branching habit and earlinessto bloom.

Fleuroselect

Dianthus caryophyllus‘Can Can Scarlet’ (See AAS’s ‘Can Can Scarlet’for description).

Trailing Petunia ‘Blue Wave’ (See AAS’s’Blue Wave’ for description).

Rudbeckia hirta‘Prairie Sun’ (See AAS’s ‘Prairie Sun’ fordescription).

Viola x cornuta‘Sorbet Orange Duet’ stands out from the vast assortment of violasand pansies for its stunning color combination of purple and orange and for itscompact, mature appearance in the pack. Sorbet Orange Duet also tends to behardier and more weather resistant than its pansy relatives. Its stems reach aheight of 7-8 inches with single flowers reaching approximately 1-1.5 inches indiameter.

Salvia superba‘Merleau’ is first-year flowering, producing spikes ofpurplish-blue flowers 100 days after sowing. Growing to a height of 15.5 inchesin the garden (almost eight inches in pots), its compact form and floriferoushabit won the praise of the Fleuroselect judges, who particularly recommendedthis variety for its outstanding pot performance.

All-America Rose Selections

Hybrid Tea lovers will find the pureness of’Whisper’ and its white color most attractive. Developed by ColinDickson in Ireland, Whisper enchants the viewer with classically formed flowersof creamy white contrasted against dark green, semi-glossy leaves. Veryresistant to disease, this rose will grow up to 5 x 4 feet and boasts 5-inchflowers.

‘Hot Cocoa’ is a novel, brownish-orangefloribunda washed with smoke on the top and a deep rusty orange on theunderside. Large 4-inch flowers hold their color and tolerate heat very well.Tom Carruth hybridized this vigorous, disease-resistant rose by crossing’Playboy’ and ‘Altissimo’ with ‘Livin’Easy’.

‘Eureka’, which is nearly as wide as it is tall,provides a sparkling hedge-type look with its glittering gold hues. Plantsreach a height of three feet and produce 4-inch, apricot-yellow flowers ingroups of three or five. Eureka will become very popular because of itsabundant blooms, re-blooming ability, glossy green leaves, easy-to-grow vigorand light fragrance. The Kordes Company hybridized Eureka from ‘BernsteinRose’ and ‘Sun Flare’.

The 2003 Grandiflora winner, ‘Cherry Parfait’has white petals with a broad red edge. Excellent in all climates, Cherry Parfait’s loose habit makes it aperfect companion plant for perennials and shrubbery. Seemingly always inbloom, this bicolor rose is attractive throughout the season and is accented bydark foliage. Cherry Parfait was hybridized by the famed house of Meilland froma combination of ‘Meidanu’ and ‘Macman’ with’Meichoiju’.




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