The European ornamental horticulture industry trade group, Fleuroselect, has been trialing and highlighting stellar annual and perennial flower varieties for 26 years. The flowers are grown in 30 trial gardens throughout Europe, where they are evaluated for their uniqueness, practical use, and quality. The highest award a plant can win from this group is the Fleuroselect Gold Medal. Many of these varieties are adapted to U.S. home gardens.
For 2007, 10 flowers will receive the Gold Medal Award. Here are three of the best:
Coreopsis grandiflora 'Presto' produces a perfect ball-shaped plant, 8 inches in diameter and height, with double yellow flowers that appear the first year. 'Presto' looks great as a bedding, container, or border plant.
Echinacea purpurea 'Prairie Splendor' is the first perennial echinacea to fully flower the first year after planting. The compact, 2-foot-tall plant is one of the first echinaceas to flower, often in June, and it continues producing flowers until frost. It makes an excellent border or container plant.
Zinnia haageana 'Aztec Sun' is a bicolor dwarf zinnia that features red and yellow flowers on compact 6-inch-tall plants. In addition to its striking color variations, 'Aztec Sun' is adaptable to cool weather and resistant to powdery mildew disease.
All the Gold Medal-winning varieties will be available through the mail and in garden centers next spring. For more information on these and other Gold Medal Winners, go to: Fleuroselect.