Give Your '92 Garden The Best: Plant All-american Selections

September 15, 1991

During the summer season, new varieties are tested throughout the United States in All-American Trial Gardens. The best of the best are named to the All-American Selections, a "Hall of Fame" for plant cultivars.

Although planting All-American members will not guarantee success, many veteran gardeners rely on these varieties as the backboneof their garden. After all, anything tough and impressive enough to earn high ratings by judges throughout the United States is a good bet for the backyard plot.

Each September, the new winners are released -- a regular debutante debut of new cultivars.

There are seven winners to mark for trial in your 1992 garden.

How about a Canna from seed? Canna "Tropical Rose" thrives, as its name implies, in warm, moist conditions, maturing into a flowering plant at a height of 2 to 2 1/2 feet four to five months from seed.

For an impatient gardener, such as myself, plants may be a better option. In our Maryland climate, the plant may be considered an annual rather than a perennial.

Rich, vibrant colors are always in demand. "Ideal violet" dianthus will make a statement with its 12 inches of height. Reportedly heat-tolerant, this dianthus would have been at home in my garden this season.

Vinca is great for summer-long drought and heat tolerance. Another Vinca has beennamed an AAS winner -- "Pretty in White." A great plant, but tropical in nature, the Vinca prefers warm soils and warm temperatures.

If white is too bland, try the peach shade of "Peaches and Cream," theVerbena. It's a full-sun plant that offers great contrast to deeper,vibrant colors of red or blue.

Perennial salvia are a welcome addition to the garden as well. "Lady in Red" salvia is hailed as the "tame wildflower." Only 12 to 14 inches in height, these red spikes provide long-lasting color in a suburban setting.

As a true vegetablegardener, I eagerly await the AAS vegetable releases. This season I'm pleased to see "Thumbelina," a small globose carrot, on the winnerslist. These little golden carrots are ready in 60 to 70 days. Their quick growth and short roots are ideal for our heavier soils or for patio container gardens.

Dill "fernleaf" is a smaller, well-branched dill designed to excel in small space. After seeing this dill, I'm impressed with its horticultural value, not just its culinary value. The compact, ferny growth serves as an excellent backdrop for smallerplants in the foreground. For folks like myself who tuck edibles into the nooks and crannies of every landscape, the "fernleaf" dill is afine addition to my edible landscape.

Despite the dry weather andgeneral disappointment in the 1991 gardening season, the new AAS members bring a promise of a better 1992 season.

Denise Sharp is the regional specialist at the Home and Garden Information Center of the Cooperative Extension Service, University of Maryland.

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