By Dan Rahn
University of Georgia
Anyone looking for new landscape plants should definitely check out the Georgia Gold Medal winners.
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 break up a vicious cycle in which deserving plants remained relatively unknown because no nurseries propagated them, because no customers asked for them, because they were relatively unknown. ...
Each year the committee selects an annual, perennial, shrub and tree and sometimes a flowering vine from a long list of nominees and awards them Georgia Gold Medals. They announce the winners first to growers so they can have them available when the public promotions begin.
The committee decides the winners based on seasonal interest, outstanding or unusual qualities, ease of propagation, hardiness, adaptability, durability, pest tolerance and lack of invasiveness.
The winnersThe 2005 Georgia Gold Medal Winners are:
Dragon Wing isn't a typical begonia when it comes to heat tolerance. It's more like a begonia on steroids. This sensational summer annual produces nonstop red or pink flowers from spring until fall frost. It adapts well to hanging baskets, large containers and landscape beds.
Georgia Blue veronica is a herbaceous perennial that grows like a ground cover, 4 to 6 inches and 2 feet wide. It's not a native but hails from the Republic of Georgia (formerly part of the Soviet Union). But it's hardy in zones 5 to 8 and bears beautiful, sky-blue flowers from February to April.
Rose Creek and Canyon Creek abelias are seedling selections of Chinese abelia. The former was selected for its low, mounding form (2 to 3 feet tall and 3 to 4 feet wide), crimson stems, fragrant white flowers and May-to-frost blooming. Canyon Creek is bigger (4 to 6 feet tall and wide), a terrific hedging plant. Its leaves emerge coppery pink and mellows to a soft yellow, then green and finally rosy bronze in winter.
Glowing Embers isn't just another Japanese maple. It's a stunning tree with vigorous growth rate and brilliant fall color. And it adapts to a range of landscape conditions, thriving in full sun and tolerating drought better than most trees in its class. It's named for the kaleidoscope of color its fall leaves provide as they fade from green to purple, flourescent orange or yellow.
Creeping raspberry is a hardy, extraordinary ground cover. It thrives in difficult sites like hot, dry, erodible slopes or ditches where soil moisture goes from soggy to arid. A fast-growing evergreen from Taiwan, it grows 3 to 6 inches high and spreads 3 to 6 feet in all directions.
To learn more about on the Georgia Gold Medal Winners program, visit the Web at www.georgiagoldmedal.com. The site shows the plants the GPSC has chosen since 1994.
(Dan Rahn is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)