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Early closures through Jan. 1 for Blossoms of Light and Santa's Village.

August 20, 2018 | Bridget Blomquist, Horticulturist

Late last year the All-America Selections Garden was officially re-named the Annuals Garden and Pavilion, however it continues to feature winning All-America Selections (AAS) annuals. The ever-changing displays provide beautiful seasonal interest that showcase new annuals that Colorado gardeners can enjoy at home. The summer 2018 design is inspired by 1980s pop songs I grew up listening to from “White Wedding” by Billy Idol to the Cure’s “Just Like Heaven” and Prince’s “Purple Rain.” Here is a playlist of the 80s music that inspired the garden design.

The AAS program was started in 1932 by seedsman W. Ray Hastings. Prior to this date, consumers had little to no information on what types of flowers and vegetables performed well in their part of the country. Hastings encouraged seed companies to set up trial grounds to test new varieties and rate which ones were superior in performance. Plants that performed well by producing abundant produce or showed extraordinary large or vibrant flowers were given the All-America Selections award. Consumers could see this stamp of approval and know that seeds they purchased would be winners in their gardens.

This program continues today with AAS trial gardens and AAS display gardens all over North America. The program has expanded by trialing not only annual flowers and vegetable varieties, but also perennial plants. There are so many wonderful All-America Selections plants to create amazing gardens at your home. Look for plants with the AAS logo at your local nursery retailer. You can also look for the logo on seed packets and in seed catalogs.

Some of my AAS favorites that you can see in the Annuals Garden and Pavilion this summer include three 2018 winners: Canna × generalis SOUTH PACIFIC™ Orange; Zinnia ‘Queeny Lime Orange’, a beautiful zinnia with show stopping peaches, corals and limes; and Gypsophila muralis ‘Gypsy White Improved’, a long blooming semi-double white, airy flower. Other showcased species include Verbena ‘Balendpibi’ ENDURASCAPE™ Pink Bicolor (2017), a heat tolerant verbena that needs no deadheading. A reliable salvia that is easy to grow with outstanding spikes of white blossoms is Salvia SUMMER JEWEL™ White (2015). The SUMMER JEWEL™ salvia series has been awarded several times including SUMMER JEWEL™ Lavender (2016), SUMMER JEWEL™ Pink (2012) and SUMMER JEWEL™ Red (2011). Petunia WAVE® Purple (1995) is a vigorous plant with a bright and bold color that is electric. Ornamental millet (Pennisetum glaucum) ‘Purple Majesty’ (2003) makes a dramatic backdrop of dark foliage. Canna × generalis SOUTH PACIFIC™ Scarlet (2013) and Canna ‘Tropical Rose’ (1992) add exotic flair.

Here is a full list of All-America Selections Winners from 1932 to present.

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