And the Winners Are...

Americans love awards! Various organizations and businesses bestow awards on cars, trucks, music, movies, and books. Of course, the awards of most interest to gardeners are those given to plants. Two such awards are the Perennial Plant and Tree of the Year for 2000 The Perennial Plant Association is a national organization of growers, landscape designers, educators, and researchers. Promoting high nursery production standards and the planting of perennials are goals of the organization. The Association has selected Scabiosa columbaria 'Butterfly Blue' as the "Perennial Plant of the Year" for 2000. (The common name for the plants in the genus Scabiosa is pincushion flower.)

'Butterfly Blue' was selected for its compact growth habit, long bloom season, and ease of culture. Plants produce lavender-blue, 2-inch-diameter from late spring to early fall. The flowers are set off by the finely divided, gray green foliage.

Pincushion flowers perform best in moist, well-drained soils. Avoid wet sites as plants don't overwinter well. Full sun is the best location for planting of scabiosas. They have few insect or disease problems.

2000 Tree of the Year

Iowa's Nursery and Landscape Professionals have selected Red Sunset, ('Franksred') red maple as the tree of the year for 2000. 'Franksred' is the cultivar name and Red Sunset, is the trademark name. "The Tree of the Year" is a community outreach program sponsored by the Iowa Nursery and Landscape Association to highlight specific trees, which have been determined to have superior qualities for Iowa Landscapes. One of the best cultivars of red maple, Red Sunset, grows 50 to 60 feet tall with a width of 40 to 50 feet. It does well in large open areas, but not parking lots. Good branch structure and long fall color display are two more attributes of this year's selection. Before planting Red Sunset, carefully consider soil pH and site conditions. Red maples prefer acidic soils. They perform poorly when planted in areas where there are large amounts of reflected light from parking lots, sidewalks, and buildings.

Remember the Perennial Plant of the Year and the Tree of the Year when you select new plants.

This article originally appeared in the January 14, 2000 issue, p. 4.


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