Wednesday, January 25, 2012

All America Selections for 2012

From the Kansas State University Horticulture, Forestry, and Recreation Website (a place where I get lots of ideas for the weekly newscolumn and blog posts - Bob Kessler introduced me to them before he left), here is a summary of the 2012 All America Selection Winners.

All-America Selections tests and introduces new flowers and vegetables each year that have done well in trials across North America. This year there were two flower winners, one bedding plant winner and two vegetable winners. Descriptions and images below are taken directly from All-America Selection materials.

For more detailed information including how to grow, go to the AAS site, or click on the individual entries below.

Ornamental Pepper 'Black Olive', 2012 AAS Flower Award Winner

The AAS Judges said this entry was a standout, especially in the southern gardens where heat was a major presence during the 2011 trials. All season long this beauty kept its upright habit with nicely draping leaves and dark purple/black fruit which appeared in small clusters along the stems. As summer progresses, the fruits mature to red giving a beautiful contrast against the dark purple foliage and bright purple flowers. Retailers and growers can sell this multi-use ornamental as a 20” border plant, a great color splash for containers or as a cut flower in mixed bouquets.

Salvia 'Summer Jewel Pink', 2012 AAS Bedding Plant Award Winner

Sister to earlier AAS Winner Salvia 'Summer Jewel Red', this dwarf sized, compact plant has a prolific bloom count throughout the growing season. As a bonus, the blooms appear almost two weeks earlier than other pink salvias used as comparisons. And of course, the hummingbirds love pink, just as much as they do red! Commercial growers will appreciate the earliness, excellent pack performance and uniformity.

Pepper 'Cayennetta', 2012 AAS Vegetable Award Winner

‘Cayennetta' is an excellent tasting, mildly spicy pepper that is very easy to grow, even for novice gardeners. This 3 to 4-inch chili pepper yielded bigger fruits from a very well branched upright plant that required no staking which would make it perfect for a container or patio planter. Unique to this variety is that it has good cold tolerance as well as dense foliage cover to protect the fruits from sun scorch and it handled extreme heat very well. This pepper is an all-around good choice no matter where you're gardening. Market growers will benefit from the heavy yield and prolific fruit set from each plant. Everyone will love the excellent pepper flavor that outshone all the comparison varieties.

Watermelon 'Faerie' F1, 2012 AAS Vegetable Award Winner

'Faerie' is a non-traditional watermelon in that it has a creamy yellow rind with thin stripes yet still yields sweet pink-red flesh with a high sugar content and crisp texture. Home gardeners will like growing something unique in their garden and the fact that the vines are vigorous yet spread only to 11' means it takes up less space in the garden. Each 7-8” fruit weighs only four to six pounds making it a perfect family size melon. Professional growers will appreciate the disease and insect tolerance as well as the prolific fruit set that starts early and continues throughout the season.

Vinca 'Jams 'N Jellies Blackberry' 2012 AAS Flower Award Winner

Extremely unique, velvety deep purple with white eye flower color will add excitment to summer gardens. This superb accent plant that will work beautifully in Americana color schemes and in combination with blue, pink, white or lavender. In some settings, the flower petals appear almost black, making this color a designer's delight. Easy to grow plants have excellent tolerance to drought and heat. Mature plants will reach 10-14 inches tall making them a perfect medium height divider. The 2-inch flowers are complimented by deep green shiny leaves creating a rich background for the richly dark flowers.

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