Award-winning plants 2008
文章来源: rnd2008-02-11 08:55:10
Noteworthy award winning plants for 2008

The beginning of a new year always holds much promise for gardeners as we eagerly scour catalogs that arrive daily tantalizing us with their products. I usually start a list of plants I want to add to my garden during the winter months, so I can head to the garden center in May and not be too distracted by the multitude of plants available for sale. Even with advance planning and a strong will, I still succumb and buy something new not on my list, but that’s the fun of gardening.

You do, however, want to be sure you are purchasing plants that will thrive where you plan to put them in your landscape and that will survive our climate extremes. Look at the informational tag accompanying the plant. It generally indicates the light, water, and soil requirements for the plant as well as its hardiness zone. The hardiness rating for Central Illinois is Zone 5.

One way to ensure you are purchasing high-performing plants is to buy plants that have earned the All-America Selections Award. These plants have been evaluated in trial gardens and have been grown successfully in a wide range of climatic conditions. Only three plants received this coveted award for 2008.

The 2008 AAS bedding plant winner is the ‘Asti White’ Osteospermum. Osteospermums are commonly known as cape daisies. ‘Asti White’ has bright white, 2 to 2.5 inch daisy-like flowers with blue centers. Under optimal conditions, they will bloom all summer and are also reported to tolerate light frosts. During the hot summer months, their thick, fleshy leaves help the plant withstand drought. This osteospermum is a compact plant, maturing at 20 inches tall and wide. It is an excellent plant for containers.

Perky Viola ‘Skippy XL Plum Gold’ was selected as the cool season bedding plant for 2008, making it ideal for both spring and fall gardens. This lovely plant has bright gold centers accentuated by radiating black lines, called whiskers, which are surrounded by light and dark plum purple petals. Though petite—it only reaches 6 to 8 inches tall—’Plum Gold’ is loaded with many 1.5-inch blooms. Use this award winner in containers, window boxes, and as an edging plant in flower beds.

Eggplant ‘Hansel’ won the 2008 AAS vegetable award. ‘Hansel’ has dark purple, glossy miniature fruits held in clusters. Each finger-like cluster can contain from three to six eggplants. This eggplant is white fleshed and has very few seeds. The fruit can be harvested early when they are two to three inches long, or they can be allowed to mature to 10 inches and will still be tender and not bitter. If grown from seeds, they produce in 55 days from transplant, which is about 10 days earlier than most varieties. Reaching only 36 inches tall, they can be grown in containers or gardens with limited space.

The All America Rose Selections Association selects award winning roses annually too. Roses are tested for two years and judged on criteria such as color, fragrance, easy maintenance and disease resistance. The 2008 AARS award winners are ‘Dream Come True’ and ‘Mardi Gras’.

AARS describes ‘Dream Come True’ as “a stunning sight of catchy colors, which lures the likes of even non-rose lovers.” Its flawless yellow double blossoms are blushed with ruby red at the tips and are set against abundant matte green foliage. This big, bushy grandiflora rose produces long-stemmed, long-lasting blooms which have a mild tea fragrance. It is an excellent rose for use in the landscape as well as in bouquets. ‘Dream Come True’ holds another distinction too. The hybridizer of this award winner, Dr. John Pottschmidt of Cincinnati, Ohio, is only the third amateur hybridizer to win the AARS award in 67 years.

‘Mardi Gras’ lives up to its name with its flamboyant blooms blended from shades of pink, orange and yellow. The high-centered, hybrid tea-style blooms have a peppery scent and are striking against the rose’s dark green, semi-glossy foliage. Blooms begin as apricot-orange buds that slowly open to reveal four-inch bright pink and orange blooms with yellow bases. ‘Mardi Gras’ is an upright, four-foot tall floribunda rose that is ideal used as a hedge or mixed with other perennials in a border.

The AARS organization is currently developing an exciting new regional award program for roses called the AARS Region’s Choice Awards. The awards will be given to roses which excel in specific climate and soil conditions in various geographic regions of the United States. These exceptional roses will be chosen as being the easiest to grow and maintain in a particular region as well as for their disease resistance and overall beauty.

While the program will eventually cover the entire United States, the AARS Region’s Choice Awards for 2008 were focused on three regions: Northern California/Pacific Northwest, Southern California/Southwest, and the Mountain States. In 2009 and future years, AARS will add additional regions for the eastern half of the United States, which will include a Midwest region. It will be very interesting to see the results for our area.