Award-winning plants take root

All-American choices include new tomatoes, clematis

By Liz Douville / For The Bulletin

“And the winners are …”

Yes, it’s that time of year, when award-winning new plant varieties strut their stuff on the green carpet.

A complete recap of all of the new plant introductions, All-America Selections winners, plus specialized categories could get pretty boring and might take as much time as the broadcast for the Oscars.

So, I’ll limit the majority of the introductions since selections are found at the Oregon State University Extension office and Demonstration Garden in Redmond.

The All-America Selections added a new designation this year recognizing regional performance, in addition to their traditional awards.

Of the five regional plant winners, only one was awarded to the West/Northwest region. The winner was the Penstemon ‘Arabesque Red’ F1.

It is rated for zones 6-9, which would make it borderline for Central Oregon and would probably best be thought of as an annual. With the right location, it could spend life as a perennial, which is what it is. The merits of the plant are the season-long rebloom with large tubular blooms almost 1-inch across. Seeds should be started indoors.

The All-America Selections National Bedding Plant Winner was awarded to Petunia ‘African Sunset’ Fl. Judges were attracted to the designer color in shades of orange. With orange being one of the colors of OSU, I’m almost certain you will see ‘African Sunset’ trialed at the OSU Extension Demo/All America Selections garden.

An AAS National Vegetable Winner was awarded to Pepper ‘Mama Mia Gaillo’ F1. The variety is a yellow sweet pepper with a long tapered shape and yellow/gold color when mature. Maturity time is a little long for us — 85 days after transplanting.

Garden tip:

Add 15 days maturity to all seed selections to compensate for our dramatic changes in daytime to nighttime temperatures.

This seems to be an orange-colored year for gardeners. An AAS National Vegetable Winner was also awarded to Tomato ‘Chef’s Choice Orange’ F1. ‘Chef’s Choice’ is a hybrid derived from the heirloom ‘Amanda Orange.’ ‘Chef’s Choice’ has a bright, almost neon internal color that does not fade or discolor when cooked in soups or sauces. Maturity is 75 days (90 days) from transplant.

A third AAS National Vegetable Winner was also awarded to a tomato. Tomato ‘Fantastico’ F1 is a high-yielding plus shaped grape tomato well-suited to market gardeners and home gardeners looking for an early determinate tomato. Days to harvest from transplant are 50 days (65 days). ‘Fantastico’ will work well in hanging baskets and containers.

I found a 1932 heirloom clematis that was awarded The Cary Award. The Cary Award promotes outstanding plants for New England gardens. ‘Betty Corning’ has a zone rating of zones 3-9 and is a faithful performer in our area according to my clematis growing friend, Shelby Smith, who has one in her garden. In fact, she informs me there was one planted at the Hollinshead Demo Garden this past spring and it produced a long procession of lavender-blue, mildly fragrant blooms. ‘Betty Corning’ blooms on new wood and has a more controlled growing height.

Plant Select Petites is a new source for me to investigate (plantselectpetites.org). It is an offshoot of the Colorado-based Plant Select. Their selections focus on lesser known but tough plants best suited to rock gardening, permanent containers, green roofs and small gardens.

Geranium ‘Dalmatian Pink’ Cransbill looks like it could be a great addition to my collection of Cransbills. The perennial boosts clear pink flowers in late spring to early summer. Leaves are aromatic and turn red in fall. The plants grow 4 to 6 inches tall and 10 to 15 inches wide.

Last but not least would be recognition of the International Herb Association of the genus Artemisia as the Herb of the Year 2014. This diverse herb family ranges from the decorative Silver King variety to the delicious French Tarragon, both of which grow well in Central Oregon.

Now it’s time to start the list of what to look for in the marketplace and lay out your plans of where to plant them.

— Reporter: douville@bendbroadband.com