Perennial of the Year,
Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’

Mary Ann Ryan
Adams County Master Gardener

Each year, the Perennial Plant Association chooses a Perennial of the Year. In order for the plant to be recognized as the perennial of the year, it must meet certain criteria. The plant must be low maintenance, grow well in a wide range of climates, be relatively pest and disease free, be readily available within the industry, and have multiple seasonal interest.

The selection this year goes to Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’. This plant has silvery foliage and grows best in the shade where its delicate color and dramatic texture add desirable color to any shady spot. It will tolerate some sun in the morning but must be protected from afternoon sun. Good moisture is needed for this plant to do well. In the spring, small blue flowers appear, resembling a forget-me-not flower. After it finishes blooming, the silver foliage lasts the entire summer and fall.

Brunnera macrophylla
Brunnera macrophylla

Another selection worth mentioning is the 2010 selection, Baptisia australis (pictured to the right). This plant is a native plant, gets about 3’-4’ tall and blooms in the spring. It has dramatic, blue flower spikes and the foliage resembles pea-shaped leaves. It’s very sturdy, so no staking is necessary. It maintains a nice green color throughout the summer into the fall, and the foliage turns yellow as the days get shorter. This plant likes full sun and does well in drier conditions. It doesn’t transplant well, so be sure when you plant it to put it someplace where it’s going to stay.

All American Rose Association is an organization that trials roses. This organization introduces and promotes roses and recognizes those that are exceptional due to ease of growing in the home garden. This year’s All American Rose Selection is Sunshine Daydream. This is a grandiflora, noted for good vigor and good bloom production. It has light yellow flowers changing to cream as it matures on the plant. The nice dark foliage is a good contrast to the light flower. It has good disease resistance and a bushy form, blooming from spring through frost.

The All American Selections Winners mission is "To promote new garden seed varieties with superior garden performance judged in impartial trials in North America."  In doing so, new introductions for these winners are announced yearly as well. This year, the winner for All American Flower Selection is an ornamental pepper ‘Black Olive’. This is an upright plant that requires no staking. It is heat tolerant and likes full sun. It’s good for containers and gets purple-black fruit that turn red as they mature. The contrast to the dark foliage is striking.

Another award winning flower is Vinca ’Jams ‘N Jellies Blackberry’ (pictured to the right). This velvety deep purple flower with a white center is spectacular. Liking the hot sun, it will do very well during our summers. Good drainage is important for growing vincas as well as waiting till after the nights reach a consistent 60 degrees or more before planting.

The All American Selections for the Vegetable category is awarded to Watermelon ‘Faerie’ and Pepper ‘Cayennetta’. As watermelon goes, this particular variety only spreads to eight feet. The rind is yellow with a stripe, and it has a sweet, pink flesh well worth the space it takes to grow. The fruit size is 7" – 8" making it ideal for a small family. It has been proven insect and disease tolerant.

The ‘Cayennetta’ pepper requires no staking. It has dense foliage and likes extreme heat. It has proven to be a heavy fruiting plant. The dense foliage protects the fruit from sunscald. This mildly spicy pepper gets two feet tall and is great for containers as well as an easy-to -grow plant for the novice gardener.

Take the time to find these winning plants at your local garden centers. These trialed plants are labeled as winners for a reason, so grow them in your garden and enjoy the experience of gardening!

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