Amy-Lynn Albertson: Winter means spring dreaming
Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 17, 2022
By Amy-Lynn Albertson
N.C. Cooperative Extension
One of my favorite things about wintertime is curling up with a warm cup of tea and a good seed catalog. The results of all the plant trials of 2022 are out. Now is the time to think about what you want to plant in 2023. All-America Selections is an independent non-profit organization that tests new, never-before-sold varieties for the home gardener. After an entire season of anonymous trialing by volunteer horticulture professionals, only the top garden performers are awarded the AAS winner award for their superior performance.
The All-American Selection has trials all over the country. AAS judges are professional horticulturists who volunteer their time to evaluate all entries next to comparisons. Universities, public gardens, breeding companies, growers, brokers, extension agents and retailers are current and potential judging sites. My alma maters, Colorado State University and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, are trial garden sites for the All-American Selections.
In North Carolina, the trials are at N.C. State University at J.C. Raulston Arboretum. In the Southeast, some top performers were the cayenne pepper “Wildcat,” jalapeño pepper “San Joaquin” and watermelon “Rubyfirm.” Rubyfirm is a personal-size watermelon about the size of a cantaloupe with very few seeds. This watermelon weighs an average of 3-3.5 pounds and has sweet, red firm flesh. It will yield 2-3 fruits on its long vines. The cayenne pepper Wildcat has extra-large mild peppers. The peppers bear about eight-inch-long fruits that have great flavor with mild spice. They make a tremendous multi-purpose pepper for everyone’s garden. A new tomato I’m excited to try is “Pink Delicious.” It’s a big tomato that doesn’t crack as much and has an excellent flavor for a sweeter-than-average pink tomato.
Some of this year’s flower winners were echinacea x hybrida “Artisan Yellow Ombre.” This is a great cut flower for the perennial garden. A gorgeous golden yellow bloom, Yellow Ombre is one of the colors in the Artisan series. It grows 24-34 inches high and blooms summer to frost with 3-4-inch blooms. Pollinators love this low-maintenance long-blooming beauty. An exciting winner from a new breeder (Green Fuse Botanicals) is a ground cover Shasta daisy called leucanthemum superbum “Carpet Angel.” This perennial grows only 6 inches high and spreads 20 inches wide with white blooms dancing over a carpet of dark green foliage. Add blue to your garden with salvia hybrida “Blue by You.” This perennial is great for hummingbirds, cutting gardens and container gardens. It will bloom spring into fall if you remove spent blooms. You can find more of this year’s and past years’ winners at all-americaselections.org or get your horticulture questions answered at the Rowan County Extension Center at rowan.ces.ncsu.edu or 704-216-8970.
Amy-Lynn Albertson is the director of the Rowan County Extension.