Each year the All America Selections committee grow and judge hundreds of new flowers and vegetables, with the goal of being able to tell home gardeners which new introductions are actually worth trying. Some turn out to be all stars, like Kentucky Blue Pole Bean and Petunia F1 'Wave® Purple'. Others fall out of favor. But it is a nice way to give something new a try in your garden. These 4 flowers and 3 vegetables are the winners for 2011.
Two beauties caught the eyes of the All America Rose Selections judges. Grandiflora 'Dick Clark', shown here, is a bit of a chameleon, starting off dark, dark red and moving from cream edged pink to a velvety bugundy.
Floribunda rose 'Walking On Sunshine'™ is a fluffy, bright lemon yellow with a soft anise scent.
Both are highly recommened as solid growers.
Several Amsonia species are native to parts of North America and they grow with little maintenance and even fewer problems. Grow them for their surprising blue flowers, their airy foliage and their brilliant gold fall color. The Perennial Plant Association has named Arkansas Amsonia (Amsonia hubrichtii) 2011 Perennial Plant of the Year, so we should be seeing much more of it. I'm hoping that is so, because I haven't been able to get a photo of Arkansas Amsonia. Featured here is my Eastern Bluestar (Amsonia tabernaemontana), another easy growing, lovely Amsonia.
Horseradish was an interesting choice for the International Herb Association's Herb of the Year. Not many people grow horseradish in their herb gardens. This may be because you don't need many plants to have a good supply of horseradish or perhaps because the plants can be a bit aggressice. But it can easily be grown in containers, or as an annual, and fresh horseradish has a pungency you won't find in a jar.
Each year the National Garden Bureau features a vegetable and the many, many varieties available to grow from seed. 2011 is the Year of the Tomato. Can there ever be too many tomatoes? Tomato plants, perhaps, but not tomatoes. I've pulled together some of their suggested varieties for starting from seed. These are all hybrids and you should be able to most find them pretty readily. Several are featured in this photo gallery.
If that's not enough tomato news for you, here is Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Tomatoes.
These flowers defy summer. They can take all the heat and abuse we throw at them and keep on blooming. Some of the older varieties can be prone to powdery mildew in humid climates, but the more recent series, like Profusion and Zahara, laugh off humidity. It also helps to thwart the problem a bit by planting your zinnias in mid-summer, rather than at the start of the season. But don't let a little mildew stop you from growing these colorful charmers.