Vegetables worth checking out

Last week award-winning vegetables, this week five All America
Selections flower winners for 2004. These winners will be available
this spring and summer at local garden centers as already-started
transplants, or you can order by seed through major mail-order seed
companies.
Last week award-winning vegetables, this week five All America Selections flower winners for 2004. These winners will be available this spring and summer at local garden centers as already-started transplants, or you can order by seed through major mail-order seed companies.

All the winners were deemed best after being trialed at test gardens across North America by garden professionals. All America Selections is a non-profit organization for evaluating new seed-grown flowers and vegetables. More information is available at their Web site at www.allamericaselections.org.

Two celosias lead the way among the flower winners. They are “Fresh Look Red” and “Fresh Look Yellow.” The former won a coveted AAS Gold Medal, which is reserved only for truly outstanding and unique introductions. Celosias are those brightly colored summer bedding plants that appear like feathers in the garden. “Fresh Look Red” celosia performs like a fresh floral arrangement all summer. It thrives in the summer heat and drought conditions.

AAS Executive Director Nona Wolfram Koivula says it won the Gold Medal for its “consistent performance with minimal maintenance and pest-free growth.” Plants mature at 12 to 18 inches tall and spread 12 to 20 inches. The central plume can be eight to 10 inches tall and five inches wide.

Like all Celosia plumosa, the flowers can be cut and dried for everlasting homemade bouquets.

“Fresh Look Yellow” celosia is similar to its red counterpart. The golden yellow plumes attain a height of 12 to 17 inches and a spread of 12 to 15 inches. Plants exhibit heat and severe weather tolerance. No need to water much once established, just protect from those nasty snails when first planted.

“Limbo Violet” petunia – This petunia is distinctive in that it features large flowers on compact plants. Plants actually become mounds of color, completely covered with flowers during the summer. The ultimate plant size if only six-seven inches high, spreading to 10 to 12 inches. The dark violet flowers of “Limbo Violet” are three inches or larger.

“Gypsy Deep Rose” gypsophila – Also known as “baby’s breath,” which is used in flower arrangements, this annual offers dainty, rose-colored flowers instead of the traditional white. The plant has a dwarf, mounded habit of eight to 10 inches high and 12 to 14 inches wide. Flowers are double and semi-double, up to three-eighths of an inch.

“Queeny Purple” hollyhock – This is the shortest Alcea rosa and the first purple hollyhock available as a single color and not part of a mixture. The frilly-edged blooms are a “powder puff” type, having a cushion-like center. They measure three to four inches on plants that reach 20 to 30 inches tall. “Queeny Purple” is an annual that will flower prolifically if sown early in spring.

Look for the All America Selections winners at garden centers this spring and summer. They will be distinguished by red, white and blue AAS display signs. You can also buy seeds from large mail-order seed companies. More information is available on the AAS Web site. A retail locator is available on the Web site. A list of mail-order seed companies is also featured.

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