Wiche: Here are the All-America selections for 2010

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By Jeneen Wiche

I can’t believe it’s almost 2010: another year of gardening and another year for the All- America Selections.

The AAS have an inherent good-gardening stamp of approval. The designation signals superior performance in a plant that usually includes vegetables, annuals and bedding plants.  More recently they have added a cool-season award to the list so gardeners can start planting now.  

The cool-season award this year goes to a viola named Endurio Sky Blue Martien.  I always think of violas as a dainty pansy with a smaller habit all-around.

Violas have blooms that are usually less than an inch, and the growth habit is typically more compact. All of this remains true for Endurio Sky Blue Martien.

Violas love the cool weather of fall and early spring. In fact, winter in Kentuckiana rarely causes them to skip a beat.

The AAS people say this viola simply “laughs off wind, rain, cold temperatures and passing snowfalls.”

Like I said, we can start planting now (although this particular viola won’t be available until next spring!). 

Other winners for next year’s growing season include a blanket flower, a zinnia and a snapdragon.  I grew the zinnia award winner, Zahara Starlight Rose in the potager garden this year during the trial period, and it proved to be a great bedding display.

 Zinnias really are best directly seeded if you want robust plants later in the summer, and Zahara seeds were sprinkled in a bed where they quickly filled in and began to bloom. 

Zahara Starlight Rose has a small, bicolored bloom, the first to combine rose in the center turning to white on the tips of the petals.  It’s like a little starburst.

The plants reach about 12 inches in height and as such make for a stunning display when planted en mass. This zinnia is a durable plant in full sun and proves to be resistant to powdery mildew, which was no small feat after all the rain we had this past summer. 

Another bedding plant winner for 2010 is the snapdragon Twinny Peach.

The claim to fame here is that this particular snapdragon is considered a butterfly flower form, so the blooms actually spread open instead of snap shut.

It really is unusual for a snapdragon and the open ruffled blooms in peach, yellow and pale orange are quite showy.

They are almost orchid-like when looked at individually. 

Twinny Peach stands out, too, because it tolerates heat better then other snapdragons so you can enjoy this one out in a full-sun garden throughout the summer. It is a good selection for the cutting garden, as well, because the blooms spikes are long and prolific.

The last of the winners is a gaillardia, or blanket flower, called Mesa Yellow.

This blanket flower has a more compact habit then most blanket flowers that get their common name because they flop and spread out in the garden like a blanket.

Mesa Yellow reaches about 20 inches in height, stays neat and compact and apparently recovers from rain and wind quickly (notable because the average blanket flower begins its floppiness under these conditions).

Its daisy-like blooms are a clear, bright yellow and come on a few weeks earlier then other varieties. They make good cut flowers, which is actually a good practice because the more you cut on them the more buds the set during the summer.

The AAS usually have a vegetable winner or two, but for this year none made the list.  That’s a little disappointing for me, but there’s always 2011 to look forward to.  For now, though, watch for these new flowering plants to try in your garden in 2010.