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An Un-Ordinary Growing Season for All-American Selections at the MN Landscape Arboretum

Redistributed with permission from Arboretum News, Dec./Jan. issue
Ted Pew, Landscape Gardener, University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

The All-America Selections gardens this year at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum were a mix of strange and stranger. For starters was the weather. Snowfall last year was low with minimal moisture content. The growing season--the end of May to the end of July--was cooler than normal. August was a bucket load of moisture but summer came in September with 80 degree temperatures and dry conditions. The 2010 AAS winners featured flowers only. The strange factor about the AAS was the expected colors on certain annuals. We had three outstanding cultivars for the 2010 sneak peek despite four plant diseases in the AAS bed and a crop failure.

Thumbnail image for Snapdragon_Twinny_Peach_AAS2009.jpg
Twinney Peach Snapdragon
(Antirrhinum majus 'Twinney Peach')
All-Americas Selections
Twinney Peach Snapdragon, aptly named for its color, had a double flower form with soft shades of peach, yellow and light orange color tones. This cultivar was quite floriferous--blooming early and up to frost--with a manageable sized 12" height and flowers up to 1.25". We had a fusarium or Pythium disease problem but once that is solved this cultivar will be around for years to come. The plants seem to be weather resistant and relatively maintenance free, for small space garden to any type of container.

Like the Snapdragon, Mesa Yellow Gaillardia was unique with its controlled plant habit and very floriferous flowers that continued to bloom through the summer. Gaillardia attracts butterflies; Mesa Yellow had an improved mounded plant habit of 20-22" in a full sun location.

Zahara Starlight Rose got rave revues on its stunning flowers from volunteers, staff and visitors. A new bicolor for this sun-loving annual, other good traits not found in many Zinnia cultivars included as leaf spot and mildew resistance. What slowed it down was the disease Sclerotinia, which affects other annuals as well. The flower form is a composite single rose and white bicolor growing up to10-12" blooming early and continuing to frost due to its disease resistance. Zahara Starlight Rose is heat and drought resistant and very floriferous.

I can't tell you much about Viola"Enduric Sky Blue Martien" except that we had a crop failure. These three plants are outstanding in their own way and will be grown again next year.
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