Seed catalogs with their enticing plant pictures and descriptions have been showing up in the mail for a month or more. As the holiday season ends, many gardeners will get them out and become serious about planning the gardens and flower borders for next summer. These catalogs boast many new flowers and vegetables and, unless the gardens are of a monstrous size, the gardener cannot try them all. Some choices must be made, but which new introductions does the gardener choose?
A good place to start is with the All-American Selections (AAS). The flowers and vegetables that have received the AAS Award have been tested by a network of independent judges who have determined that their garden performance is superior under a wide variety of growing conditions. Four flower cultivars have earned the AAS award for 2010.
"Twinny Peach" snapdragon has two qualities that make it stand out; unique color and form. No other snapdragon offers the unique peach tone colors consisting of blends of soft peach, melon, yellow and light orange. The "twin" of "Twinny Peach" is it's double or butterfly form. It can be called a "snapdragon without snap" because the flowers do not have jaws or joints to open and close. Plant this snapdragon with blue salvia or purple foliage plants and your garden will be a real eye-catcher. "Twinny Peach" is easy to grow in full sun and has shown good heat tolerance. The plants are 12 inches tall and produce abundant flower spikes for both garden show and cutting.
"Mesa Yellow" is the first hybrid blanket flower or Gaillardia. Although it is a tender perennial, it blooms the first year from seed making it a great plant for full-sun gardens. "Mesa Yellow" produces neat, mounded plants that attain a height of 18 inches and a width of 20-22 inches with prolific three inch bright yellow daisy-like flowers. The plants do not get tall and floppy, making them ideal plants for small space gardens and containers.
A beautiful addition to cool gardens and containers is "Endurio Sky Blue Martien" viola. Its delicate sky-blue flowers are deceiving because the plants are tough and will tolerate low temperatures in spring and fall while blooming well into summer. It has a spreading growth habit with mounds six inches tall and 10 to 12 inches wide, making it a great selection for both bedding and containers.
If you are fond of bedding zinnias, you will really like "Zahara Starlight Rose" zinnia. It is a rose and white bicolor with proven resistance to leaf spot and mildew, two diseases that often devastate a bed of zinnias. "Zahara Starlight Rose" is an easy-to-grow, sun loving, heat and drought tolerant bedding zinnia. The mid-size plants reach a height and width of 12 to 14 inches, making them a good selection for containers as well as borders and mass plantings. The seeds of this zinnia may be sown directly outdoors, but with a time to bloom from seed of about 60 days, you may want to start them indoors or look for started plants.
These AAS winners are available as seeds from catalog companies and should be available at garden centers this spring.