All-America Selections, an organization that recommends new varieties of plants for growers and consumers through extensive testing, has announced a new round of award winners for the upcoming season.
Seeds and plants will be available this spring.
The first of four new flower varieties is Echinacea purpurea 'PowWow Wild Berry.' Echinacea, also known as coneflower, has been escaping from the heirloom purple varieties in recent years with new and interesting colors and growth habits emerging. No longer do growers refer to this plant simply as 'purple coneflower, opting instead to drop the 'purple' reference due to so many new colors being cultivated.
Pow Wow Wild Berry is a deep rose-purple three to four-inch flower. According to AAS, this flower retains its color much longer than many of the others and ranks superior with its branching habit, resulting in more flowers on each plant.
Coneflower is one of the more outstanding flowers in the garden, reaching up to two feet tall. It is a sun-lover and should be grown where it can get long stretches of sunlight each day. Because it takes up to 20-weeks the first year to set flowers, home growers should purchase plants in spring from local garden centers. This plant also is hardy to zone-3 and is a perennial that will return each season for several years. This new variety of coneflower was bred by the PanAmerican Seed Company.
I'm particularly excited about the next plant on the list, African marigold, 'Moonsong Deep Orange.' It's no secret that I love orange flowers and this one is described as having an intensely deep orange color that is difficult to be captured with a photo.
Marigolds have lost favor among gardeners in the past as many have abandoned annuals in favor of perennials in the landscape, but I have always felt there is a place for both in any design. According to the AAS, 'Moonsong Deep Orange' will reach 12 to 15 inches tall and blooms later in summer if planted directly in the garden from seed. It can be started earlier indoors if earlier blooms are desired and who wouldn't want that? Until they bloom, the plants are covered with green foliage, making a dramatic backdrop to earlier, colorful annuals or perennials. Moonsong was bred by Syngenta Flowers.
If you're wondering what could possibly go with orange in the garden, the answer is pretty much anything, other than pink. Yellow, purple and lavender flowers make exciting contrasts to those oranges. Don't be afraid to mix it up.
I'm loving these selections by AAS because the flowering plants chosen this year remind me of my grandparent's garden. Two varieties of Zinnia round out the rest of the old-fashioned annuals. The first is 'Double Zahara Cherry,' an early-bloomer that gives us two and a half inch blooms only eight to ten weeks after germination. It stays about 12-inches tall, making it perfect for container gardening.
The second Zinnia is 'Double Zahara Fire,' growing just a couple inches taller than Zahara Cherry. Both of these plants are sun-lovers and are leaf spot and mildew resistant. They were bred by the PanAmerican Seed Company.
The last award winner the AAS recommended is an hybrid watermelon called 'Shiny Boy.' Extremely sweet according to taste-testers, this fruit is described as having a crisp texture, with red flesh and dark seeds. A medium-large melon, Shiny Boy grows on 12-foot vines, but can be grown vertically on a trellis for those without large spaces to let the vines wander. It is an early melon as well, with mature fruit ready for harvest as early as 75 days after germination. This plant was bred by Known-You Seed Company.
So there you have it. The All America Selection winners for early 2010.
This is just a preview of some of the new varieties you will be seeing in garden centers and on seed-racks this season.