Award-Winning Squash and Viola

By Charlie Nardozzi

The All America Selections (AAS) committee has been awarding new, high-performing vegetables and annual flowers their prestigious award for more than 75 years. These varieties are trialed across the country and have unique characteristics such as color, shape, disease resistance, and yield that make them a step above similar, established varieties.

The two winners for 2009 are a new squash and a new pansy, both of which are perfect for modern gardeners. Winter squash has the reputation of being a space hog with its sprawling vines. This makes it a challenge to grow in small-space and container gardeners. Now 'Honey Bear' hybrid acorn squash provides the high-quality fruits of other acorn squash varieties, but with only 4- to 5-foot-wide plants. The dwarf plants are powdery mildew-tolerant and produce three to five one-pound fruits per plant.

Violas are easy to grow, cool-season flowers. They often self-sow in cold areas and overwinter in moderate winter climates. 'Rain Blue and Purple' viola produces 10- to 14-inch-tall trailing plants that blossom in fall and winter in warm areas, and spring and summer in cool areas. The most remarkable trait of this hybrid is that the flower color changes from purple and white to purple and blue as the flowers mature. Different-aged flowers are on plants at the same time, making this a tri-colored variety.

For more information on these AAS winning varieties, go to: All America Selections.

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