This blog doesn’t always flow instantly from my mind to my fingertips to the keyboard. It might be a case of I forgot it was “blog week.” It might be writer’s block. Or it might be the worst – I don’t give a rip this week. And quite simply, some days nothing particularly brilliant comes to me for a blog post. On those days I can usually cobble something together from a quick mental review of what’s going on in the gardens here at the IMA. Some days I find information from the outside that works as a catalyst. Which is fine and all, but it means sometimes writing about a plant I have not seen or have not grown, which always makes me a little cautious. I do fully realize I cannot grow every plant that comes across my horticulture radar. And I accept that I will tell folks about a plant that I have not grown and must rely on the breeder or promoter for information. At some level that is okay too. I’m thankful plants still get me worked up so much I have to talk about them. I’d hate to lose that zeal. One way information comes to my attention is when a plant wins some award and I get an email about it. And that is the basis of this week’s blog.
The American Garden Award (AGA) selections were announced this week. The winners of this award are chosen by the public, not the industry or judges (like the AAS awards). Plants are chosen first by their breeders for garden performance. Over two dozen public gardens then put this group of plants in an area where the public can easily observe them and, using one of several methods, vote for their favorite. Apparently folks not seeing the plants in person can vote also and, to be honest, that’s a little unnerving. But it’s part of the program and I’m not getting worked up over it.
Here in Indianapolis, Garfield Park is the only participating public garden. The plants are located at the Arts Center, but be sure to visit the Conservatory and Sunken Garden, too. The other Indiana location is Taltree Arboretum and Gardens in Valparaiso. A third nearby spot is the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville.
This is the fourth year for the award. This year’s winners are all annuals, with the Grand Prize going to Begonia ‘Santa Cruz™ Sunset.’ Second Place is Gazania ‘Big Kiss™ White Flame,’ and Third Place is Petunia ‘Surfina® Deep Red.’ I have grown various forms of all these species over the years but not these specific ones. I did see some of them growing in the ground and at symposia.
The begonia is related to ‘Bonfire,’ one of my favorite plants. You can tell they share parentage from the foliage and flower. I can still remember drooling over pictures of gazania in seed catalogues 40 years ago when some flowers had five different colors in each petal. And of course petunias have been a garden staple forever it seems. For these award winners, I’m taking the descriptions and photos directly from the AGA website.
Begonia Santa Cruz™ Sunset lights up your garden with an abundance of scarlet/orange blooms. Its elegant softly cascading form is perfect for hanging baskets, urns or mass plantings in your garden. Surprisingly heat, drought and rain tolerant, this summer beauty thrives in any location from full sun to shade.
Gazania Big Kiss™ White Flame has huge white and rose striped flowers that cover full, bushy plants. This carefree, heat loving and drought tolerant annual loves the sun and thrives in tough conditions, all summer long. Extra large flowers and plants make high impact displays in garden beds or containers.
Finally, the true deep red petunia gardeners have been searching for! For 20 years, Surfinia® has been the best-selling vegetative petunia series in the world, offering superior garden performance with no pinching or pruning needed. Enjoy ‘Surfinia® Deep Red’ in container gardens or in the landscape from spring through fall.
So keep an eye out for these when the 2013 gardening season kicks in. Hopefully they will have both you and your garden looking good and feeling gorgeous.
Filed under: Horticulture