Each year, All-America Selections, American Hosta Growers Association, Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers, Fleuroselect and Perennial Plant Association reward trialed varieties that have proven to be successful performers for growers, retailers and consumers alike. It’s not easy selecting which varieties to grow each season. So, in an effort to help you decide, GPN compiles information on the year’s winners and presents them here for you.
‘Mesa Yellow’ (PanAmerican Seed, www.panamseed.com ). The AAS flower award winner ‘Mesa Yellow’ is the first F1 hybrid gaillardia or blanket flower. It was chosen for its uniformity of seed germination and young plant performance. It quickly fills in the container, making it adaptable to 4-inch and larger containers. Gardeners will like ‘Mesa Yellow’ for its natural drought tolerance and continuous blooming, controlled plant that reaches 18-20 inches tall.
‘Twinny Peach’ (Hem Genetics, www.hemgenetics.com ). This bedding plant award winner is a unique dwarf snapdragon with a double or butterfly flower form. Another unique trait is the shades of peach or melon colors. Flowers create a novel presentation with peach, yellow or light orange colors. Bold hues are popular in the garden, but pastels create contrast.
‘Zahara Starlight Rose’ (PanAmerican Seed, www.panamseed.com ). The first zinnia with rose and white bicolor blooms, also winning the bedding plant category, is resistant to leaf spot and mildew. Easy to grow and schedule, ‘Zahara Starlight Rose’ can be produced in eight to nine weeks for spring and five to six weeks during summer, depending on light levels and temperatures. AAS judges noted exceptional garden performance despite higher-than-normal rainfall.
American Hosta Growers Association
‘Earth Angel’ (H. Hansen/Shady Oaks Nursery, www.shadyoaksnursery.com ). Giant (30x68 inches or larger) ‘Earth Angel’, a sport of ‘Blue Angel’, has heart-shaped, blue-green leaves and a wide yellow border that becomes creamy white in summer. It produces tall, straight scapes of large, near-white flowers in late June and July. Like its award-winning parent, this hosta’s reliability in shade or part sun makes an impressive specimen mound relative quickly in all parts of the country.
Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers
‘Uproar Rose’ (Benary Seed, www.benary.com ). The highest-rated cultivar in the 2008 Seed Trials, zinnia ‘Uproar Rose’ is winner of the fresh cut flower category. It boasts consistent magenta-rose color, high degree of doubleness and large flower size. It was called a “standout in the field” for its heavy yield on strong 30-inch stems.
‘Coronation Gold’. Dried cut flower winner achillea ‘Coronation Gold’ requires little maintenance and is productive, with division, for several years. Flowers are easily dried and hold their yellow color indefinitely. The strong stems allow them to be easily used in dried arrangements.
‘Hamburg’. Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Hamburg’ features dark blue-purple petals that fade to red. They are good for drying and preserving. Its petals are popular when harvested blue and equally popular these days when the flowers age to a mix of green, blue and pink known as “antiques.” Vase life will be six to eight days when harvested early in the season and 10 to 12 days when antiques are harvested later in the season.
‘Mesa Yellow’ (PanAmerican Seed, www.panamseed.com ). Winning its second award this year, ‘Mesa Yellow’ impressed Fleuroselect judges with its beauty and abundance of novel, yellow flowers. It can be used as a garden perennial to Zone 5 if planted in a well-drained soil. The variety fills a container quickly and fits into the category of first-year-flowering perennials requiring no vernalization.
‘Crystal Peak’ (Ernst Benary Samenzucht, www.benary.com ). Physostegia virginiana ‘Crystal Peak’ is an eye-catching new cultivar demonstrating compactness and uniformity in both pack and garden trials. Judges were impressed with its earliness. Its sparkling white peak of flowers was impressive all season long and should be a treat for the container market. It prefers moist soil and is happiest in sunny spots.
‘Million Suns’ (Dittmar Samen und Pflanzen). This sanvitalia has been recognized for its exceptional developments in ornamental breeding. It boasts an abundance of golden-yellow flowers, and judges found the variety to show exceptional compactness, excellent basal branching and a longer flowering period. It was judged to be an overall superior product for both growers and consumers alike.
Perennial Plant Association
‘Aureola’. Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’ (golden hakone grass) is native to Honshu Island, Japan. Individual blades are 1⁄2-inch wide and bright-yellow color with thin green stripes. It is used mainly for its golden foliage, although it does produce tiny flower spikes from late summer through mid-autumn. This grass requires little maintenance, other than cutting the dead leaves back in late winter or early spring. Any area of the garden that is darker and somewhat drab can benefit from golden hakone grass.