CAST 2017: Dr. A’s Top 5 Picks From Danziger, Syngenta Flowers, and Proven Winners

Here are a few plants that caught my eye on day one of California Spring Trials 2017 as I visited Danziger Flower Farm, Syngenta Flowers, and Proven Winners:

Pink Fan Flower: Scaevola ‘Pink Blessing’ (Danziger Flower Farm)
This immediately caught my eye because the flowers were prolific, and the plant has obvious vigor. This may not be for the frail-of-heart because it is obviously a quick grower and likely once in the landscape or container may crowd other plants out. But that is why I like it. And, deniers aside, it is warmer today than 10 years ago, heck, even two years ago, and plants like scaevola will take the heat.

Sunflower: Helianthus ‘Sunfinity’ (Syngenta Flowers)
That I am talking about a sunflower as one of the coolest plants of the day must say something about the merits of this plant. Here I am surrounded by the exotic and extraordinary and I am highlighting a sunflower! Plants branch well even if unpinched, and the flowers are held on strong stems. They’re also programmable, providing long-day during the four-week seeding and plug stage is all that is needed to keep plants flowering all season. This may be the sleeper of the show.

Mountain Hydrangea: Hydrangea serrata ‘Tuff Stuff Blue’ (Proven Winners ColorChoice Shrubs)
The serrata forms of hydrangeas are not particularly well known, but Proven Winners has introduced a handsome lace cap form with intense, blue bracts. The foliage is dark green and handsome. It provides flowers and form somewhat similar to H. macrophylla but is more cold hardy.

Annual Phlox: Phlox ‘Intensia Red’ (Proven Winners Annuals)
I have always lusted after a good annual phlox, and the Intensia series has come close to satisfying my cravings. The red flowers of this selection could be seen across the entire display — it was that intense. I have no doubt that the intensity of color will fade during the summer, but oh my, it will be a magnet to buyers.

Foamy Bells: × Heucherella ‘Eye Spy’ (Proven Winners Perennials)
This may be a breakthrough plant. Heucherella have long enjoyed excellent flower shape and colors and this hybrid is no exception. The leaves and habit will sell even without flowers, but the upright spires of beautiful pink flowers make this irresistible. My number one perennial of day one.

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