All-America Selections has named the first seven winners for 2011. These never-before-sold varieties were trialed, "tested nationally and proven locally," and the best performers have been named. You can expect to see them for sale at local nurseries and in catalogs this spring. (More winners will be announced in January.)
Drum roll, please...
Bedding Plant Winner: Salvia 'Summer Jewel Red'
This Salvia coccinea was consistently rated “superior” or “above average” by the AAS judges because of its early and generous flower blossoms, continuing from spring to autumn. Additionally, each dwarf and densely branching plant remains a tidy 20 inches tall, even at full maturity. The bright red flower spikes are covered with half inch blooms making it perfect for the bird lover’s garden where the bright red color acts as a magnet for hummingbirds. Plus, goldfinches swarm the plant for seeds. Even the leaves add beauty with their finer-textured, dark-green color. "Summer Jewel Red," just 50 days from sowing to first flower, is about two weeks earlier than comparisons. Expect long season performance and superior holding ability in wind and rain. This annual is ideal for full sun containers, mixed beds and borders where uniformity is desired. Bred by Takii & Co, Ltd.
Cool Season Winner: Ornamental Kale 'Glamour Red' F1
This is All-America Selections’ first winning kale (edible or ornamental) in 78 years of trialing. "Glamour Red" is an excellent achievement in breeding for its unique shiny leaves. The waxless quality of the leaves makes them shiny with a more intense, vivid color compared to existing ornamental brassicas. Judges noted that the shiny foliage is striking in the landscape and it outperformed comparisons with outstanding success. It is a fringed-leaf type Brassica oleracea with flower head size of 10 to 12 inches. This full sun annual will bloom 90 days from sowing seed to first color. Leaf coloring begins when night temperatures fall below 55 degrees for about two weeks. Expect good disease tolerance in all regions and frost-tolerant blooms from November to March in warmer climates. Bred by Takii & Co.
Cool Season Winner: Viola 'Shangri-La Marina' F1
This winning Viola cornuta is an early flowering, mounding viola in a vibrant new color for this type. In trials, the 6-inch-tall plants kept a low-growing mounding habit. Colorful and prolific 1¼-inch blooms have light blue petals with a velvety dark blue face that is surrounded by a narrow white border. Judges noted earlier (70 days from sowing to first flower) and showier blooms with noticeable drive-by flower power. Flower color was a consistent deep Marina blue throughout the season. This vigorous frost-tolerant biennial provides a solid mat of fall color until covered with snow followed by a great recovery in spring. Grow in full sun as a low edging in the garden or in hanging baskets and pots. Bred by Tokita Seed Co., Ltd.
Flower Winner: Gaillardia 'Arizona Apricot'
Gaillardia "Arizona Apricot" offers a new and unique apricot color for this class. Blooms have yellow edges that deepen to a rich apricot in the center. Judges noted the award-winning distinctive flower color of the 3- to 3.5-inch daisylike flowers, described as exceptionally lovely and lighter in color than traditional gaillardia. Just 105 days after sowing seed, this Gaillardia x grandiflora will bloom from early summer into autumn. The compact 12-inch tall plants offer bright green foliage and a tidy uniform habit best viewed when planted to the front of the flower bed. "Arizona Apricot" is free-flowering, blooming heavily without vernalization, covering the plant with bright blooms that look great in mass. This long-flowering perennial is hardy in USDA Zones 2 to 10, is relatively maintenance free and drought-tolerant once established. Gardeners will want to remove old flowers to encourage blooming. Bred by Ernst Benary of America Inc.
Vegetable Winner: Pumpkin 'Hijinks' F1
"Hijinks," defined as lively enjoyment and unrestrained fun is an apt name for this pumpkin winner that offers loads of seasonal fun for kids. This winning pumpkin variety produces small-sized, 6- to 7-pound fruits, of a very uniform size and shape. Smooth deep orange skin with distinctive grooves gives a very classy appearance to fall decorations and is ideal for painting or carving. The strong durable stem makes a great handle. Gardeners can expect high yields, notable resistance to powdery mildew, easy fruit removal from plants and excellent stem attachment. Allow plenty of space in the garden for long vines that spread up to 15 feet. Early to mature, this Cucurbita pepo is ready for harvest in about 100 days from sowing or 85 days from transplant. Bred by Sakata Seed America, Inc.
Vegetable Winner: Tomato 'Lizzano' F1
"Lizzano" is a vigorous semi-determinate tomato variety with a low growing, trailing habit excellent for growing in patio containers or hanging baskets. In the garden, some staking will benefit this plant despite a nice compact and uniform growth habit. The durable, appealing plants grow 16 to 20 inches tall with a compact spread of only 20 inches. Expect abundant yields of high-quality, bright red, baby cherry size fruits. The small 1-inch fruits weigh about 0.4 ounces. The plentiful fruit set allows for continual harvest beneficial for the home gardener. Judges noted better eating quality, yield and plant habit than comparisons. "Lizzano" is the first Late Blight tolerant cherry fruited semi-determinate variety on the market. Disease-resistant plants will last later into the growing season. Harvest begins 105 days from sowing seed or 63 days from transplant. Bred by Pro-Veg Seeds Ltd.
Vegetable winner: Tomato “Terenzo” F1
This high-yielding, determinate red cherry fruited bush tomato blooms prolifically on low-growing, trailing plants. All determinate plants produce only one crop of tomatoes. This one has sweet-tasting fruit that’s standard size for a cherry at about 1 1/4 inches and 0.7 ounces. Growing 16 to 20 inches tall, it’s well-suited for hanging baskets or containers and is very easy to grow. Bred by Pro-Veg Seeds Ltd.