GROWING THINGS: Fresh new plant introductions from All-America Selections

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At this time of year, I like to talk about the new plant introductions of All-America Selections. For those of you new to gardening, All-America Selections (AAS) is an independent, non-profit organization that tests new plant varieties throughout North America. The organization then introduces only the best garden performers as AAS Winners. Independent AAS judges score the entries to determine AAS winners.

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The main categories are annuals, perennials and edibles/vegetables. This is the first batch of AAS winners for this year with more often being announced later in the year.

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The first introduction this year that caught my eye is a variety of broccoli called ‘Broccoli Skytree F1’ — an AAS winner in the vegetable category. It is a unique broccoli with an upright growth habit making it easier to harvest. It’s reputed to have tender stems and florets. One judge declared, “A truly fresh punch of wonderful broccoli deliciousness.”

The next introduction is another award-winning broccoli named ‘Broccoli Purple Magic F1’. This variety has an eye-catching purple colour and features a tight, uniform head and bright beads. It’s reputed to have great flavour as well as looks, is said to be easy to grow and is also stress and heat-tolerant.

Moving on to the winning annuals, a number of these introductions are worthy of mention. The first AAS Ornamental Winner is a new geranium called ‘Geranium Big EEZE Pink Batik’. This is an eye-candy variety of geranium resembling an artistic technique called batiking, a labour-intensive way to produce beautiful colourations on fabric. The variety is noted for its superior container performance, medium vigour and heat tolerance.

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growingthings Edmonton
Geranium Big EEZE Pink Batik is on All-America Selections’ list of new plant introductions. Photo by supplied

Another winner in the ornamental category is an impatiens named ‘Impatiens interspecific Solarscape® XL Pink Jewel F1’, a rather lengthy title for a beautiful-looking flower. Solarscape impatiens is a variety grown from seed. Durable Solarscape outperformed the comparison varieties and because it’s grown from seed, it gives the home gardener the option to start impatiens at home.

This variety features vibrant pink satiny blooms that cover the mounded plants non-stop all season. Solarscape XL Pink Jewel has superior disease resistance, especially to impatiens downy mildew. At least in the photos, this variety seems to glow with colour.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a new variety of marigold. This AAS winner in the flower category is a beauty. Named ‘Marigold Siam Gold F1’, this plant features mounded foliage that produces globe-like, fully double golden flowers all season long. The large flowers are held on top of sturdy stems above the foliage for full-colour visibility, which would make a striking focal point in the garden. Blooms were noted to be very tight and held up all summer long. The uniformity of the plant gives a neat, tidy appearance.

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Personal addition

I have a newer introduction for this year that’s not on the AAS website but is on my list of must-try plants. I noticed this variety from the National Garden Bureau and it’s a cucumber called ‘Quick Snack’. This variety is part of the Kitchen Minis Collection of indoor-growing vegetables. The description states it as a ‘deliciously crisp and sweet cucumber you can eat fresh off the plant, or add to a vegetable platter or salad’. What appeals to me is that the plants produce handfuls of small, cocktail-sized cucumbers over a few weeks. The plants are well suited for container growing giving all gardeners the ability to enjoy homegrown vegetables without an outdoor garden space. The bonus is that this plant does not require pollinators to produce fruit.

Find more information on AAS and see previous winners at all-americaselections.org.

Just a reminder that these plants are very new to the market and may not be available at your local garden centres or greenhouses for this upcoming growing season — I cannot tell you when they’ll be available or where so check with your local greenhouse.

Every week, Growing Things Outdoors runs online at edmontonjournal.com or, if you prefer an epaper format, epaper.edmontonjournal.com. Learn more by emailing your questions to [email protected], reading past columns at edmontonjournal.com/author/geraldfilipski or my book Just Ask Jerry. You can also follow me on X @justaskjerry01.

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