By Dan Rahn
University of Georgia
Since 1994, the Georgia Plant Selections Committee, Inc., has been helping Georgia gardeners improve their landscapes. Each year they recommend a new list of beautiful, proven landscape plants.
The committee is made up of nurserymen, flower growers, landscapers, landscape designers, garden center managers and University of Georgia horticulturists. It was organized in 1994 to promote the production, sale and use of superior landscape plants.
Each year they select an annual, perennial, shrub and tree and sometimes a flowering vine from a long list of nominees and award them Georgia Gold Medals. Only the best of the best can earn the top honors.
What it takesTo choose the winners, the committee looks at seasonal interest, outstanding or unusual qualities, ease of propagation, hardiness, adaptability, durability, pest tolerance and lack of invasiveness.
The 2004 Georgia Gold Medal Winners:
Chartreuse Joseph's Coat is an annual bedding plant prized for its yellow-green foliage. It's trouble-free in the landscape from spring to fall frost. The stems and leaves both are bright yellow-green, providing season-long color while requiring little routine care. It's a choice plant for today's part-time gardener.
Anise Hyssop hybrids, including "Apricot Sunrise," "Firebird," "Tutti Frutti" and "Blue Fortune," are the herbaceous perennial winners. These flowering herbs are prized for their aromatic foliage, tolerance to pests (including deer) and nonstop flowering from spring to fall. Just about anybody can grow Anise Hyssop with ease.
Summer Snowflake viburnum is a flowering shrub that blooms in spring, then repeats its blooms throughout the summer and fall. The flowers give way in late summer to clusters of bright-red fruit that fade to black. A wine-red leaf color signals the end to another growing season.
Bald cypress is the tree winner. It's a native tree seldom appreciated outside the swamps of south Georgia. But it's surprisingly drought-tolerant and will adapt to a range of growing conditions. Orange fall color and a peeling bark are other outstanding merits.
To learn more about on the Georgia Gold Medal Winners program, visit the Web at www.georgiagoldmedal.com. The site shows the plants chosen by the Georgia Plant Selections Committee from 1994 to 2003.
(Dan Rahn is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)