University of Vermont Extension 
Department of Plant and Soil Science

Winter, Spring News Article


Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension Professor
University of Vermont
Four flowers from among the top new introductions for this coming year have won the All-America Selections award for 2010. They include a blanket flower, viola, snapdragon, and zinnia.

The All-America Selections program is an awards program for new flower and vegetable introductions, grown from seeds, that must bloom the first year in the case of flowers.  New introductions are tested first at 40 trial locations in the United States and 6 in Canada.  Those that perform best, and are improvements over similar varieties (if they exist) are awarded this designation. 
'Mesa Yellow' is a blanket flower (Gaillardia x grandiflora) about one foot tall and across (more in warmer climates) with single yellow flowers.   It is the first hybrid blanket flower from seed, has more flowers than usual for this species, and is more compact so doesn't get floppy.  Being a compact mound habit makes it a good choice for mixed container plantings.  It blooms a couple of weeks earlier than other blanket flowers too. The flowers are large, about 3 inches across, are attractive to butterflies, and are followed by globe-shaped seed heads. Plants bloom in about 4 months from sowing seeds.
'Twinny Peach' is a snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus) without the snap.  If you've held the typical snapdragon flowers you know that pushing on their sides makes them open, then snap shut when released.  But not this one, as it is a double or "butterfly" type, hence the twinny name.  Another unique feature of this new snapdragon is the flower color, a lovely pastel blend of peach, orange, and light yellow.  'Twinny Peach' only reaches about a foot high and half that across, and blooms in 10 to 12 weeks from sowing.
Violas are small versions of pansies, flowers being under 2 inches wide generally.  'Endurio Sky Blue Martien' (Viola cornuta) is the latest viola winner (last year 'Rain Blue and Purple' was a winner), flowers being under one inch across.  They are single, a nice sky blue with darker markings near the center and some petal edges.  The spreading and mounding plants reach about 6 inches high and twice that wide.  They are especially attractive in window boxes, planters, and hanging baskets.  Figure on about 9 weeks from sowing seeds until the first flowers appear.
The final winner for 2010 is my favorite, a bicolor in a new series of zinnias (Zinnia marylandica).  'Zahara Starlight Rose' stands out with its white flowers and contrasting rose-red centers, especially I find at dusk.  In addition to this unique color are its resistance to leaf spot and powdery mildew diseases.  Plants are low for zinnias, only about a foot tall and wide, with flowers a little over 2 inches wide.  They work well along walks, edges of beds, massed, or in containers.  It needs about 2 months to bloom after sowing. 

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.  For more details on these and past All-America winners, visit their website (

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