All-American Selections winners announced

By Larry Sagers

Deseret News

Published: Sunday, March 20 2011 3:00 p.m. MDT

Each year, hundreds of new flowers and vegetables are introduced to the market. It seems to be almost impossible to determine what is new and is going to grow well in your garden and what is not likely to be a great asset to your garden.

The All-America Selections features their 2011 AAS Winners that are "Tested Nationally and Proven Locally." These go through an intense evaluation process where these new, never-before-sold varieties are evaluated by expert AAS judges.

One of this year's flower winners is named for the state just to the south. Gaillardia Arizona Apricot was selected because it offers a new and unique apricot color for that kind of flower.

Gaillardia, or blanket flowers, have long been a favorite in the state because they are excellent, long-blooming, drought-tolerant plants. This new introduction has blooms with yellow edges that darken to a rich apricot toward the center.

The AAS judges were impressed with the distinctive flower color of the 3- to 3.5-inch daisy-like flowers. The color is very different than other gaillardias on the market.

While gaillardias are typically grown as perennials, this plant will start blooming about 105 days after sowing seed. After establishment, this Gaillardia x grandiflora will bloom about as long as any perennial and provide a show from early summer until autumn.

The compact 12-inch plants have bright green foliage. Their tidy, uniform habit is perfect for a front-border or low-growing bed.

It is cold hardy in USDA Zones of 2-10, so it will thrive throughout Utah. It is low maintenance and drought tolerant once established but blooms longer when old flowers are removed.

The flower was bred by Ernst Benary of America Inc. The closest comparisons on market are Granada and Golden Goblin.

Salvia Summer Jewel Red is another excellent plant for Utah because it is heat and drought tolerant after establishment. It is also known as hummingbird sage, scarlet sage or Texas sage.

This flower got the nod from the judges because it blooms early and is covered with many beautiful blossoms. The plants are dwarf and densely branched, growing to a compact 20 inches tall at full maturity.

Another advantage of Summer Jewel Red is that it blooms just 50 days from sowing to first flower. That is approximately two weeks earlier than other comparable varieties on the market. The plants are covered with flower blossoms from spring to autumn.

Bird lovers will treasure the plants because the bright red flower spikes are a magnet for hummingbirds. Additionally, goldfinches swarm the plant for seeds. It was bred by Takii & Co, Ltd., and the closest comparisons on the market is Lady in Red.

The next two plants are more adapted to cooler conditions and will work better when planted in Utah gardens during the fall.

Ornamental Kale Glamour Red F1 is in a unique position because it is the first kale plant (edible or ornamental) in 78 years of the vegetable garden trials!

Why did the judges think this plant was different than the others on the market? Unlike all other members of the cabbage family, the leaves on this kale are not covered with a waxy coating. The plants have shiny leaves that make the colors very intense and vivid compared to other ornamental brassicas on the market.

It is a fringed-leaf kale with flower heads that grow 10 to 12 inches across. Plant it in full sun, and it will take 90 days from sowing seed for the leaves to color. The leaves start to color when night temperatures fall below 55 degrees for about two weeks.

Plant kale in the fall or plant larger plants very early in the spring for best color. It is bred by Takii & Co., Ltd. and the closest comparisons on market are Kamome Red and 'Nagoya Red'.

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