By Leora McTall, Master Gardener
Not only do we humans receive awards, but plants also compete for the best of the best. Our awards encompass all walks of life and include the Nobel Peace Prize, Academy Awards, U.S. Women’s World Cup, and locally our CHS May Queen and King, to name a very few.
In the plant world several types of awards are given, including the American All Selection (AAS) award, Plants of Merit, Proven Winners and the perennial, annual, vegetable, shrub, tree of the year – on and on. Plant societies also honor the flower of the year. The American Iris Society (AIS) presents the Dykes Medal to the best iris of the year, the Stout Silver Medal is given to the best daylily, daffodils receive the Wister Award, and the American Rose Society and the Royal Horticulture Society award several honors to roses.
“AAS plants are tested nationally and proven locally” according to the AAS website. Test plots are divided into regions, and we are in the southern tip of the Great Lakes Region.
The William Jennings Bryan Memorial Park in Salem (Rt. 37 North) is an official AAS display garden, where 12-15 varieties of winning flower seeds are supplied by the AAS. This year the Salem Community High School, Ed Purcell of Crossroads Garden Center, and Matheny Farms grew the seeds in greenhouse conditions. The City of Salem finances the project, while the Daffy Dill Garden Club adds perennials and shrubs, then members plant and maintain the beautiful garden.
Pat Warden of the Daffy Dill Garden Club spends many hours working in the garden and some wonder if she may have an apartment in the base of the Bryan statue. Pat mentioned there are several volunteers from the garden club and others who help with this civic project. So be sure and stop by to view this lovely garden, as these AAS plants are the cream of the crop.
Also in the Salem area, Cindy Vandeveer is applying to the American Hemerocallis (daylily) Society (AHS) to qualify as an AHS Display Garden. Cindy grows over 1000 varieties of daylilies in several gardens landscaped with perennials, annuals, shrubs, grasses and hardscape all woven together into a tapestry of color resulting in a beautiful country scene.
“Plants of Merit” may be seen at the Missouri Botanical Garden. To qualify for this award, plants must grow well in Missouri, Central and Southern Illinois and the Kansas City Metro area. One of the current winners of the “Plants of Merit” is the Silverbell Tree (Halesia diptera), which was promptly added to our “get” list when viewed at the Gardens. It’s clusters of white bell-shaped flowers were the attention grabbers on this plant, and since it is a moisture-loving plant, it would have thrived here in our gardens this year.
For 2015, there are 106 “Proven Winners” which include mostly annuals and shrubs. P. Allen Smith promotes “Proven Winners” plants as he travels throughout the country.
The American Iris Society Dykes Medal for 2014 went to “Dividing Line”, hybridized by Chuck Bunnell. “Webster’s Pink Wonder” received the 2014 Stout Silver Medal daylily award, and both of these flowers may be seen in our Irvington garden. The 2015 recipients of both flowers have yet to be announced.
So start compiling your list of award-winning plants to add to your garden.
Plants Receive Awards Too