Classic City Awards For Annuals

Classic City Awards For Annuals

We recently discussed, argued and finally voted on the top 12 annuals and a similar number of perennials in the Trial Gardens at UGA. These plants exemplified the highest performance for the longest period of time in our challenging environment in Athens, Ga.
 
We used our own eyeballs but also asked visitors to flag the plants they liked best. We collected data every two weeks on all the annuals in the garden, and such records were also important ingredients in making our list. The data are based on flower performance, foliar health, disease and pest resistance, and outstanding performance regardless of weather. 
 
These are the Oscars, the Emmys, the Tonys and the Obies all wrapped in one. If the plant wins a Classic City Award, take it to the bank. I’ve categorized the annuals as thriller, fillers and spillers, and grasses. And the winners in annuals are:

Thrillers

Acalypha ‘Showtime.’ Copperleaf has become a far more important plant group in recent years. In the landscape or in a mixed container, ‘Showtime’ from GroLink caught everyone’s interest. Big, bold and colorful, this plant makes a statement.
 
Begonia ‘Big Rose Bronze Leaf.’ We have been tiring of wax begonias in the last decade. It’s not that they aren’t functional, but only that they are common. It is difficult to stand out in such a crowded field, but the large leaves, flowers and stature of this begonia from Benary made it a winner. I categorized this as a thriller for the mixed container, comporting well with many of our fillers on this list. 
 
Coleus ‘Two Egg.’ Once again, the age divide came to light in the choosing of this coleus from GroLink as a Classic City award winner. There was lots of arguing about which colei were deserving of this award, and ‘Two Egg’ was a wonderful performer. I hated the name and argued against it, but was outvoted by the Gen Xers around the table who thought the name was “awesome.” No argument from our visitors, either: It received more than its fair share of flags. 
 
Coleus ‘Mariposa.’ As busy as ‘Two Egg’ is, this Athens Select coleus exudes a classic elegance in the container or landscape. Its colors were eye catching, its performance was excellent and people came back to it time and again. 
 
Gomphrena ‘Fireworks.’ I often write that gomphrenas are underappreciated, perhaps because they don’t have any real bright yellows or oranges, but mainly because they kind of blend in with the rest of the landscape. Not so any longer. We debated about including this big, tall Pan American selection in this prestigious group of winners, but it did all we asked and more. 
 
Usually, globe amaranth would be a spiller or filler, but this one stood 4 feet tall and flowered continuously. It was a little too tall in our climate but the flower color and the buzz it created made it impossible to ignore. It is nice to see a company finally shrug off the chains of “short and compact” and take a chance. 

Fillers & Spillers

Lobularia (Alyssum) ‘Snow Princess.’ As a skeptic of unfounded claims, I was not at all impressed with the rhetoric coming out of Pack Trials this spring about how wonderful this plant would be in the heat. Yada, yada: Heard it all before. 
 
When we received ‘Snow Princess’ from Proven Winners, I planted it in the shade hoping it would survive, and in full sun, knowing it would burn up. Not only did it not burn up in full sun, it lit the place up with its large clean white flowers. And just to make me feel even worse, it looked very good in the shade as well. How wonderful to be wrong!
 
Portulaca ‘Pizzazz Salmon Glow.’ The portulacas are a bit like relatives: They come and they go. The Pizzazz series compares favorably to many of the other better-established series of purslane, but visitors and staff always commented on the color of Danziger’s ‘Salmon Glow.’ None of the cultivars of purslane can boast of flowers that remain open as long as we would like, but the combination of flower power, color and vigor made ‘Salmon Glow’ a winner. 
 
Calibrachoa ‘Mini Famous Yellow.’ Talk about a crowded class of plants! This year we had about 75 calibrachoa cultivars, nearly all of which were new in the last year. To find a series that stands out is difficult enough, but to find a cultivar that stands out from the rest is surprising indeed.
 
The Mini Famous series from Selecta First Class performed well, but the lemon-colored form always attracted eyes and flags. The pastel color is understated but the flowers occur so heavily that it is always visible in a crowded field. All the doubles are better viewed up close where the subtle doubleness can be truly appreciated. 
 
Angelonia ‘Carita Raspberry.’ Of the dozen or so angelonias we trialed this year, many of them performed very well. Two stood out, ‘Spreading White’ from Ball Horticultural Co., and ‘Carita Raspberry’ from Syngenta. The compact habit and the continuous flowering – even through the hot summer months – caught our eyes, but it was the unique color that made this cultivar the top vote getter among angelonias. 
 
Geranium ‘Caliente Orange.’ The dark green ivy-like leaves, the long flowering time and the self cleaning features of the Caliente series made me a fan since it was first introduced. The orange flowers on this selection from Goldsmith Seeds were almost iridescent, and plants could easily be pointed out from a distance. 
 
Of all the classes of geraniums, the ivy series and the hybrids have made exceptional breakthroughs in a thoroughly confused and crowded stage. Like a beacon on a rocky shore, ‘Caliente Orange’ stood out.

Grasses

Pennisetum ‘Fireworks.’ The breeding of pennisetums has been nothing short of spectacular in the last 10 years. From feather grass (Giant Burgundy grass) to millet (‘Purple Majesty’ and ‘Jester’) to napier grass (‘Prince’ and ‘Princess’), these plants just keep getting better. 
 
All stood out in the gardens this year, but it was impossible to ignore the flags in this and the last winner: They were both stabbed to an inch of their lives. 
 
‘Fireworks’ provides a mélange of leaf color, vigorous (but not aggressive) growth and handsome flowers.
Pennisetum ‘Jade Princess.’ What an outstanding introduction. Even at Pack Trials, this one stood out. So I was anxious to see what it would do in the real world. 

It did not disappoint. Of all the plants in the garden, this plant from Ball Horticultural Co. received the most attention throughout the season. The chartreuse foliage combined with sterile dark flowers was an excellent combination, resulting in oohs, aahs and dozens of flags. In the interest of full disclosure, plants declined badly in September, both foliage and flowers falling apart. However, it provided immense pleasure when we needed it and I expect it to be around for some time. 

Leave a Reply

Latest Stories
Youngs Plant Farm Trial Garden feature

January 21, 2017

Don’t Miss the Southern Garden Tour This June

Growers, retailers, and all industry professionals are invited to the 2017 Southern Garden Tour, which is hosted by Young’s Plant Farms, Sakata, and Metrolina Greenhouses, and will be held June 6-8.

Read More
Gaillardia 'Mesa Red'

January 21, 2017

2016 Pike Creek Horticulture Center Field Trials Result…

Check out the 2016 field trials results for The Pike Creek Horticulture Center in Kenosha, WI.

Read More
Anna Chernyavsky

January 20, 2017

New Director of Sales for Bedding Plants and Perennials…

Anna Chernyavsky, who joined Danziger in August 2016, will be in charge of the U.S. and United Kingdom markets.

Read More
Workplace Trends

January 20, 2017

10 Trends Predicted to Impact the Workplace in 2017

Here are 10 workplace trends that Forbes contributor Dan Schawbel predicts for 2017 that may change the way you do business in the future

Read More
Hydrangea ‘Endless Summer BloomStruck’ (Bailey Nurseries)

January 19, 2017

Bailey Nurseries Hosting Spring Previews in February

The previews, which provide education, new variety information, and retail support programs, will take place in Illinois, Minnesota, and Boston.

Read More
Bouldin and Lawson Precision Needle Seeder feature

January 19, 2017

How You Can Get More Precise With Your Seeder

Bouldin & Lawson’s Precision Needle Seeder is designed to improve accuracy when sowing small, difficult seeds.

Read More
Selecta Sponsor bed at Raker trial gardens

January 18, 2017

2016 C. Raker & Sons Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 field trials results for C. Raker & Sons in Litchfield, MI.

Read More
EFTE Film

January 18, 2017

Looking at Glass or Polyethylene for Your New Structure…

Ethylene Tetrafluoroethylene, also known as EFTE, is a fluorine-based material that looks like a standard polyethylene greenhouse film but offers high light transmittance.

Read More
Nadia Sabeh, CEAC

January 18, 2017

Upcoming Seminars to Focus on Managing the Greenhouse E…

The seminars, which will also be accessible online, are presented by the University of Arizona’s Controlled Environment Agriculture Center.

Read More
Spring Meadow Nursery Fire

January 17, 2017

Two Major Growers Recovering and Rebuilding After Fires

The blazes occurred at Dan Schantz Farm and Greenhouses in Zionsville, PA, and Spring Meadow Nursery in Grand Haven, MI. Both companies say no employees were injured, and they plan to pull together and stay on schedule for the remainder of the year.

Read More
Dallas Johnson

January 17, 2017

Dallas Johnson Greenhouses Owner Passes Away at 78

Dallas G. Johnson, who started the company in 1985, is survived by his wife, Kay, and two children.

Read More
Joe Cimino, Sakata Seed America

January 17, 2017

Sakata Seed Names New Senior Sales Manager for Ornament…

Joe Cimino comes to Sakata with past experience at Sun Gro and Florexpo.

Read More
JinPin Flower Seedling Company partners

January 17, 2017

Ernst Benary Partners With Chinese Young Plant Grower o…

The partnership creates a new company called Jinpin Flower Seedling Company, which will focus on providing young plants to the rapidly growing Chinese bedding plant market.

Read More
PC-31 Transplanter (Visser)

January 17, 2017

Visser NA Rebrands as Bellpark Horticulture

The new name will equally represent not only Visser, but all of the brands Bellpark represents, including Mayer, Logitec Plus, and Drygair in North America.

Read More
Stephanie Whitehouse

January 17, 2017

Stephanie Whitehouse Takes Her Passion for Plants to Di…

Stephanie Whitehouse, who has spent the last seven years as the Sales and Marketing Director for Peace Tree Farm in Kintnersville, PA, recently joined Dickman Farms Greenhouse and Garden Center in Auburn, NY, as the company’s new Retail General Manager.

Read More

January 13, 2017

We Must Help Heal Our Nation, with Plants and Flowers […

No matter how you may feel — personally or professionally — about the outcome of the election, it’s likely that you realize our nation has some healing to do.

Read More
Effective pest control

January 12, 2017

Prevention and Early Intervention: The Keys to Biocont…

Advance preparation and starting out right helps you implement an effective biocontrol program that reduces pest pressure.

Read More
Dipladenia Sundenia

January 11, 2017

New Tropical and Foliage Plants That Offer Hidden Benef…

Tropical and foliage plants can offer extra paybacks to your customers in terms of health-promoting benefits such as filtering the air, reducing stress, and absorbing noise. Consider these new varieties, hitting the retail market in 2017, for your product mix.

Read More