University of Vermont Extension
Department of Plant and Soil Science
2008 ALL-AMERICA WINNERS
Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension Professor
University of Vermont
A viola, African daisy, and eggplant are
among the top new flower and vegetable introductions for this coming year. They have won the All-America Selections
award for 2008.
The All-America Selections program is an
awards program for new flower and vegetable introductions, grown from seeds,
and that must bloom the first year in the case of flowers. So if a perennial blooms the first year, it
too could be a winner in addition to the usual annual flowers. New introductions are tested first at 48
trial locations across North America. Those that perform best, and are improvements
over similar varieties (if they exist) are awarded this designation. They are then showcased at 178 display
gardens, one of which is our Burlington
The program celebrated its 75th
anniversary in 2007. Since its inception
there have been 668 winners. The most
flowers to win in a year was 32 in 1934, the lowest was one in 1954 and 1976,
with an average of almost nine winners a year.
The flower with the most winners (65) has been the petunia. The vegetable with the most winners (36) has
Viola ‘Skippy XL Plum-Gold’ performs well
in our cooler northern climate. The
small flowers, only about one and one-half inches across, are attractive plum
shades with golden centers (often called the “face” in violas and
pansies). A main feature of this new
flower are not only its color, but its many blooms.
This viola only grows about six to eight
inches tall, making it great for edging a walk or garden, window boxes, or in
combination planters. It will provide
color early in the season before
other annual flowers become showy and fill in the spaces it provides, dying
back later in hot seasons.
African daisy or osteospermum ‘Asti
White’ has pure white daisy flowers with blue centers—a unique combination for
most flowers. Blooms are large, up to
two inches or more across, and held on stalks about a foot or more high. A main feature of this new flower is its
color, the first such in varieties of this species grown from seeds.
Like other African or cape daisies, this
one tolerates drought, and doesn’t like to remain too wet. These plants also
tolerate slight frost, so can be planted earlier than more tender annual
flowers. ‘Asti White’ is attractive in
masses, along walks or in large containers.
Since white is such a powerful color, try this plant with other white
flowers, or in small numbers with blue flowers such as mealy-cup sage or
Eggplant ‘Hansel’ is the only vegetable
winner for this year, and has several advantages over other eggplants. It has fewer seeds than most, the fruit is
tender and non-bitter, and the fruit can be harvested from three to a full ten
inches. It remains tender and sweet at
all sizes of harvest, beginning about 55 days from sowing the seeds. Being a
small plant, less than three feet high at maturity, it can be grown in large
containers as well as in the garden.
Ask your local garden store or greenhouse
if they will carry these All-America selections this year, otherwise you may
need to start them yourself from seeds.
Look for seeds in mail-order catalogs, and seed racks this spring at
your local garden store.
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