June 19, 2008

Medal of Excellence

It’s the best-kept secret every year at OFA Short Course — the winners of Greenhouse Grower’s Medal of Excellence Awards for Industry and Editor’s Choice. More than 250 attended our event to see winners Selecta and Benary. Previously announced award winners, Paul Ecke Ranch for Industry Achievement and the STEPABLES brand for Excellence in Marketing, were also presented their award statuettes. Paul Ecke Ranch For the Industry Achievement award, we recognized Paul Ecke Ranch for its transformation to become the leading cuttings producers serving U.S. growers in both spring annuals and poinsettias. “Those that stand still fall behind,” said Paul Ecke III while accepting the company’s award. “We have had a lot of success growing and selling, but, of course, we couldn’t do it without the breeders, inside and out, especially Sakata and Yoder, our partner in the Flower Fields.” Ecke also thanked the company’s 900 employees, rooting stations, propagation […]

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June 18, 2008

Cut Flower Review

Move over, carnations. A multitude of unique new cut flower varieties for 2007 are just waiting to grace the bouquets and arrangements that delight thousands of lucky recipients ever day. And this year’s introductions, with their cheery colors and lovely fruit and flower forms, are sure to bring smiles to many faces. We thank all of the companies that highlighted their new cut flower varieties in this feature.  AGASTACHE ‘Sangria’ features lemon-scented leaves and clusters of arching red-purple blossoms. Available from Jelitto, this easy-to-germinate variety is a lovely perennial that will flower the first year.   ANDROPOGON Available from Jelitto, ‘Prairie Blues’ has ribbon-like leaf blades and fluffy, silvery seed heads in autumn and early winter. It is easy to germinate, drought resistant and cold hardy.   ANTIRRHINUM Golden yellow flowers tinged with pink accents adorn the long, 40-inch, dense flower spikes of ‘Animation Cognac’ from Benary. Its long vase life […]

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June 18, 2008

Trialed & True

Tested nationally and proven locally is more than a slogan at All-America Selections (AAS). Before an AAS Winner is introduced, it is tested at independent test sites throughout the United States and Canada. These test sites are called AAS Trial Grounds. A trial ground is a test site that conducts side-by-side comparison trials. Each trial ground has at least one official AAS judge, who supervises the trial and evaluates entries for AAS at no charge. Typically, the judge is a horticultural professional and the site is part of a seed company’s trial grounds, university or other horticultural institution. All judges and trial sites are approved by the AAS board with the objective of having well-managed sites in different parts of North America. Judges are responsible for conducting the trial of entries and the closest comparisons on the market. They evaluate entries looking for desirable qualities such as novel flower forms, […]

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June 18, 2008

Variety Shorts

Voluptuous Varieties New varieties from Sahin include achillea ‘Flowerburst Red Shades,’ amaranthus ‘Autumn Pallet’ and digitalis ‘Candy Mountain.’ Achillea ‘Flowerburst Red Shades’ is a smashing new introduction of Sahin’s achilleas (now a total of three mixes: ‘Summer Berries,’ ‘Summer Pastels’ and ‘Flowerburst Red Shades’). Achilleas are great instant perennials with bold colors. ‘Flowerburst Red Shades’ is a blend of mainly red/rose and violet shades, and its habit comparable to the other two mixes. Amaranthus ‘Autumn Pallet’ is a blend of Sahin’s well known ‘Autumn’s Touch’ (erect spikes of pistachio-green tipped with bronze) and ‘Hot Biscuits’ (Fleuroselect Quality Winner in ’97, warm orange brown spikes), excellent as autumn filler. Amaranthus also has great shelf life compared to may other fillers. Digitalis ‘Candy Mountain’ is unique, as it is the first upward-facing foxglove from seed. This unusual characteristic enables you and the bees to peep inside the stunning rose pink blooms and […]

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June 18, 2008

Great For ’08

Always looking ahead, All-America Selections has begun the promotion cycle for the varieties consumers will see at retail next spring. Just three made the cut after last year’s extensive summer trials.  Osteospermum ‘Asti White’ Bred by Goldsmith Seeds, ‘Asti White’ is the first white-flowered osteospermum propagated from seed. Retailers and landscapers prefer single colors to mixtures for their customers. Advantages include a lower input cost than cuttings, uniform plant size and flowering time, and heat and drought tolerance. Plants finish in 14-16 weeks from plugs into 4-inch pots or larger. Viola ‘Skippy XL Plum-Gold’ Kieft Seeds Holland’s ‘Skippy XL Plum-Gold’ is the first viola with a golden face, cute black whiskers and shades of plum surrounding the face or blotch. The color combination is unique and performance is exceptional, proving to be both cold and heat tolerant in trial grounds. As a Cool Season Bedding Plant Winner, it was tested […]

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June 18, 2008

Garden Gems

Since day one, All-America Selections (AAS) has prided itself on identifying and promoting superior-performing varieties and raising the bar for future introductions. Varieties that are genetic breakthroughs are continuously improved and sometimes even superseded. After 75 years, which ones withstand the test of time on their own merits? Being very particular, AAS has identified five that stand out above the rest for performance and their longevity and recognition in the marketplace. All are F1 hybrids. These are the All-America Classics: Dianthus ‘Ideal Violet’ Introduced in 1992, ‘Ideal Violet’ colors a garden with 1 1/2-inch, single violet blooms. It was bred for cold and heat tolerance in France. The breeder, Guy Lassartesse bred ‘Ideal Violet’ while exploring crosses between D. chinensis (China pink) and D. barbatus (Sweet William). This variety was the first dianthus to receive the AAS Bedding Plant Award and is offered by PanAmerican Seed. Pansy ‘Majestic Giants Mix’ […]

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June 18, 2008

Growing Overseas

An aging population, water safety and smaller living spaces are some of the forces driving floriculture in Europe, as well as the United States. The National Floriculture Forum’s trip to Holland and Germany in January looked at how growers, retailers and educators are grappling with these and other industry trends. The trip rounded up with a few days at the IPM Essen show. The National Floriculture Forum brings together academia and industry to discuss floriculture issues and research. In Holland, the group visited seven growers, who grow a variety of crops, from bulbs to orchids to ferns. Grower highlights included Wesselman Flowers, which grows bulbous crops hydroponically. Producing tulips, lilies and brodiea for grocery chains, Wesselman sells 90 percent of its product between January and April. Its 20 million tulips per year are grown quicker and cleaner in water instead of media. With impressive packaging automation, pot plant producer Humako Plant […]

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June 18, 2008

Good Grief — How Do I Know Which Coral Bells To Sell?

There are many fine new plants out there and it is fun to jump on the newest of the new. Without doubt, the hype that accompanies them resonates with growers, retailers and consumers. Lots of new genera have surfaced in the last five years, but probably none have resulted in so much confusion to the resonatees as the coral bells–heuchera. Bravo to breeders these days, but they have become so accomplished that coral bells as a group is threatened with the death knell of becoming a commodity. However, to believe that every new (or old) coral bell is the next Holy Grail is to believe in the Easter Bunny. I, for one, love the Easter Bunny story, but I don’t bet my house on his appearance. This quick article is not meant to pick on heucheras; next month I may direct my comments to purple cone flowers (echinaceas), tickseeds (coreopsis) or […]

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June 18, 2008

Final Stab At Reader’s Choice Award Voting

For 20 years, Greenhouse Grower’s Medal of Excellence Awards has recognized talented individuals, visionary companies and exception breeding that have played significant roles in the growth of the global floriculture industry. Make your voice heard and cast your vote for the 2008 Reader’s Choice Award. The award will be presented during the annual Medal of Excellence Awards Ceremony, July 14, during the OFA Short Course in Columbus, Ohio. This year’s nominees include: Geranium ‘Calliope Dark Red’ Breeder: Goldsmith for Syngenta Flowers       Mandalay and Bellagio Begonias Breeder: Kientzler for Proven Winners       Ptilotus ‘Joey’ Breeder: Benary       Rudbeckia ‘Tiger Eye Gold’ Breeder: Goldsmith Seeds       To cast your ballot, click here.

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June 18, 2008

Fresh Cut Leadership

As the new chair of the California Cut Flower Commission (CCFC), Wilja Happé’s No. 1 goal is to create value for the growers who pay into it. CCFC is a state promotion order for cut flowers and cut greens. It was established by California cut flower growers in 1990 and has survived three referendums, which are held every five years. Growers who gross at least $500,000 in annual sales pay an assessment of 0.005 percent. That qualifying sales threshold started out at $100,000 and has climbed over the years. The non-profit public corporation’s mission is to market California cut flowers and cut greens and represent the growers on governmental issues. Funding research also has been a component. Between 80 and 100 growers currently pay into CCFC, but the entire California cut flower growing universe is about 275 growers representing $316 million in annual sales. About 73 percent of all domestically […]

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June 18, 2008

Trial By Fair

To get a pulse on consumer trends, growers read trade and consumer magazines, keep an eye on the do-it-yourself television shows and look at the latest color forecasts and displays at Target. Doug Hart of Hart’s Nursery, a wholesale grower in Jefferson, Ore., thought of a novel way to gauge customers’ likes and dislikes: He decided to ask them directly. Hart’s Nursery has been involved with the Oregon State Fair for eight years as the only nursery supplier in the event’s Garden District. The fair receives about 400,000 visitors over a 12-day period each August, and statistics show that half of them visit Hart’s displays at the Garden District. Hart has the chance to ask 200,000 people about their gardening tastes, as well as expose them to a world of gardening possibilities. Over the course of Hart’s involvement, the Garden District has gone from being ranked 5th behind traditional State Fair […]

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June 18, 2008

2007 New Varieties

  Abutilon ‘Fairy Coral Red’ abutilon hybrid from Athens Select sports handsome salmon to pink flowers and remains less than 18 inches tall in containers and the landscape.  Achillea Sahin’s ‘Flowerburst Red Shades’ is another great achillea from seed. It is a smashing blend of mainly red, rose and violet shades.    Achillea ‘Pomegranate’ from Blooms Of Bressingham’s Tutti Frutti Series features rich, velvety red flowers. It offers an outstanding compact, sturdy and full habit. Bred by Sahin in the Netherlands. Aeonium Aeonium ‘Kiwi’ from EuroAmerican Propagators is a low-growing, mound-forming succulent that forms rosettes of fleshy, spoon-shaped leaves that are uniquely colored with yellow, chartreuse, pink and red.  Angelonia Part of a new series at Danziger, ‘Alonia Pastel Pink’ is a fast-growing angelonia with a compact growth habit and fantastic branching. It has abundant, light-pink flowers and an excellent performance in early spring and fall.     Proven Winners’ […]

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June 18, 2008

Variety Shorts

Radiant Roses New to the Easy Elegance collection for 2007 are ‘Fiesta,’ ‘Yellow Brick Road’ and ‘Sunrise Sunset.’ ‘Fiesta’ blooms explode in an array of dark pink and white stripes with just a touch of yellow near the centers. Dark green, glossy foliage is disease-resistant and complements the flowers well. Unique blooms flower early and hold their color and petals as they mature. Plant it in groups for the best flower effect. ‘Yellow Brick Road’ is a neat, round, compact shrub that covers itself with clusters of old-fashioned, lemon-yellow blossoms. The outer petals are slightly lighter in color. Blooms mature to butter-cream, extending the palette of colors. It will add a splash of color in the front of the border, as a groundcover and also as a low hedge. As the name implies, ‘Sunrise Sunset’ is a stunning blend, with bright fuchsia pink petals changing to apricot yellow near the […]

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June 18, 2008

Symbol Of Success

For 75 years, All-America Selections’ (AAS) red, white and blue logo has represented a promise of gardening success. This familiar emblem can be found on seed packets, plant tags and pots, in catalogs and a variety of printed and online publications reaching millions of consumers every day. AAS was planted in 1932 by W. Ray Hastings, who was president of the Southern Seedsmen’s Association in Atlanta, Ga. His vision was to provide a way for home gardeners to learn which new varieties are truly improved. Before AAS, in the 1920s and 30s, consumer magazine editors knew little about new garden varieties and had few resources to obtain reliable information. The garden club movement was in its infancy and needed material. Home, farm, seed and florist magazines were hungry for garden news.  Planting The Seeds The AAS network began when Hastings encouraged seed companies and universities to set up trial grounds […]

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June 17, 2008

Making The Grade

As we went to press, our jury members had just returned from the California Pack Trials and were thinking about their votes for the top five new introductions to consider for Greenhouse Grower’s Medal of Excellence for Breeding. Their collective nominations will determine the finalists for the award, which will be presented on July 16 in an Oscars-style awards reception during the OFA Short Course. The panel will vote again on the finalists to determine the Industry’s Choice winner and for the first time you, our readers, will vote on these finalists to determine a Reader’s Choice winner. We also will present the traditional Editor’s Choice and a marketing award and an industry achievement award determined by the editors. Immediately following the awards will be an opportunity to win $5,000 in a raffle that benefits America In Bloom. Tickets are $100 each and can be ordered online at www.americainbloom.org. This […]

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June 17, 2008

Be Our Guests!

This was the ninth year we brought growers with us to the California Pack Trials through our California Dreamin’ contest sponsored by flower breeders Sakata Seed America and Suntory Corp. To date, about 35 growers have gone on this trip. Winners are selected during the treasure chest drawing at the Southeast Greenhouse Conference and Trade Show in Greenville, S.C. Both pairs of winners were grower-retailers from North Carolina. One pair, Sharon and Gurnie Chriscoe, own Possum Run Garden Center in Robbins. The other, Ginger Johnson and Lisa Bloodworth, manage retail and production, respectively, at Wildwood Nursery & Garden Center in Henrico. Johnson’s brother, Mike Diakont won the trip, but was not able to attend. This was the first time Dr. Paul Thomas of the University of Georgia tagged along with us. He brought the idea of this contest to us to add some excitement to the Southeast Greenhouse Conference in […]

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June 17, 2008

Pansies, Violas And The “What Else Is There” Crowd

It is said that if a table filled with pots of equally beautiful pansies and violas were displayed side by side, pansies would out sell pansies by approximately 80:20. I really hope it isn’t that bad because if so, that means the consumer is as stupid as a rock. We like to believe differently. I may be the stupid one because I think the violas today have far surpassed the pansies for creative colors, and even performance. I am an outlier in horticultural surveys. At the Gardens at UGA, we trialed dozens of pansies and violas this winter and they were all excellent–really, there was not a dog among them. Some were a little more excellent than others, some caught more eyes, while some were more boring than others, but my grandmother would have been happy with any one of them. My horticultural hero and trial garden manager, Meg Green, […]

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June 17, 2008

California Pack Trials 2007

American Takii This was a big year for petunias at American Takii with seven additions to its Opera Supreme spreading petunias and three new Symphony multifloras. Last year, ‘Opera Supreme Pink Morn’ became an All-America Selections 2007 winner. Seven new colors include: Blue, Lilac Ice, Lavender, Coral, Salmon, Purple and White. The three new Symphonies are Chiffon, Lavender Pink and Burgundy Star. Next year, watch for the Soprano petunia, which will grow taller than the low-growing Opera Supremes. Grower Bud Lopez created this year’s spectacular display. The theme was "Music For Your Eyes." Two new colors joined the Nature pansy series: Pink Antique and Carmine Shades with Blotch. New Gem violas include Sapphire and Plum Antique. In cut flowers, the Cannes consolida (larkspur) series offers tall stems, double flowers and more disease tolerance in six colors. Introductions: • Cannes larkspur series, six colors • Cut flower kale ‘Pink Crane’ • […]

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June 17, 2008

New Volume On Missouri Plants

The Missouri Botanical Garden has released a new book that deals in depth with nearly 1⁄3 of Missouri’s wild plants and weeds. Steyermark’s Flora of Missouri, Second Edition: Volume 2 is the culmination of six years of research on the plants included in it. Dr. George Yatskievych, the volume’s author and a member of the Garden’s research staff, in cooperation with the Missouri Department of Conservation, has now completed an up-to-date treatment of the state’s botanical riches. Flora includes descriptions, identification keys, flowering times and habitat information, along with new, original illustrations of nearly all of the species. Data from more than 120,000 preserved plant specimens was analyzed to create dot maps of the occurrence of every kind of plant included in each of the state’s 115 counties. To date, nearly 400 native and introduced plant species have been added to the state’s flora since its original publication. The 1,200-page volume […]

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June 17, 2008

Packed With Ideas

Where else can you see a whole world of floriculture in just one week (without leaving the country) but the California Pack Trials? More than 30 flower breeders and propagators rolled out their cutting-edge flower varieties during the ultimate road trip April 14-22. In addition to American companies, many of which are based in California, breeders and producers from as far as Japan, Israel, Germany, England and Holland camp out for a couple of weeks and make a pretty substantial investment in this event. Nearly 2,000 plant seekers make this pilgrimage each year. While the majority are representatives of the broker distribution chain, busloads of growers travel with their big-box buyers. Many plug, liner and finished growers make the journey on their own. And then you have allied trades and media people, like us, too. This year, Greenhouse Grower was represented by Editor Delilah Onofrey, Managing Editor Sara Tambascio and […]

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