Sep 25, 2012
Showstopping in ColoradoBy Jasmina Dolce

Last week, I had the opportunity to travel throughout Colorado to visit with some growers and garden centers. While in Colorado, I decided to walk through the flower trials at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. Coincidentally I visited the trials the day they announced their trial winners!

Although the temperatures were starting to drop and the days seemed to be getting shorter, the plants still looked great – especially Benary’s begonia ‘Santa Cruz’. So it’s no suprise this new introduction won “Best Begonia boliviensis.” It showed surprisingly well in the landscape, which was unexpected from a boliviensis.

Begonia ‘Santa Cruz’

Other notable trial winners are Dümmen’s ‘XXL Hidalgo’ dahlia (“Best of Show”), Proven Winners’ ‘Luscious Berry Blend’ lantana (“Best New Variety), and Plug Connection’s ‘Bells of Fire’ tecoma (“Best Novelty).

Dahlia ‘XXL Hidalgo’

Lantana ‘Luscious Berry Blend’

Tecoma ‘Bells of Fire’

Winning varieties were based on evaluations done by more than 100 people from various backgrounds on Aug. 6 and a second evaluation done by the Trial Garden Evaluation Committee on Sept. 6.

In 2012, there were approximately 1,100 entries from 20 different national and international companies. Weather from June to mid-September was extremely hot (many days over 90° F) with very little rainfall.

Here is a list of some of the 2012 winners, along with commentary from the judges. For a complete list, additional photos and more information, go to

Best of Show ““ Dahlia ‘XXL Hidalgo’ from Dummen USA. This plant brings a unique class to the garden dahlia category and was a standout without special care. The flowers are relatively large and noted for having a deep rich “butter-French” color. Flowering started early and continued strong late into the season complimented by the dark green foliage.

Best New Variety ““ Lantana ‘Luscious Berry Blend’ from Proven Winners. Besides the prolific flowering, this variety was an eye catcher due to a beautiful blend of bright flower colors. Plants had great vigor and formed a dense canopy.

Best Novelty ““ Tecoma ‘Bells of Fire’ from Plug Connection. This plant has a very tropical look to both the foliage and flowers. Besides the unique appearance, flowering often begins as a small plant in the greenhouse and continues throughout the summer. The blooms remind many of those on a trumpet vine.

Best Begonia boliviensis ““ ‘Santa Cruz’ from Benary. This begonia surprised some since it was grown in full sun during a very hot summer and evaluators noted that it was “tougher than you think.” Not only did it survive these conditions but it thrived as evidenced by the robust, seed-grown plants and uniform growth habit. Flowering was strong through the season and blooms have a wonderful fiery shade of red/orange.

Best Coleus ““ ‘Wasabi’ from Ball FloraPlant. Bright, chartreuse foliage and vigorous growth habit make this plant a standout from across the garden. Up close, the ruffled leaf edge adds some textural interest. Vigor was impressive and it grew to be a large plant even in full sun.

Best Geranium (ivy) ““ ‘Grand Idols Purple from Fides North America. Prolific, bright flowers combined nicely with the full plants and uniform growth habit. The unique flower color was more of a rose or neon pink than purple as described in it’s name.

Best Geranium (zonal) ““ ‘Caliente Fire’ from Syngenta Flowers. Impressive color dominates this plant from the rich red flowers to the unusually dark green foliage. The color contrast is striking but so is the prolific blooming and overall uniformity. It grew well despite a summer of unusually intense heat.

Best Petunia (veg-mini) ““ ‘Littletunia Blue Vein’ from Danziger. This plant was characterized by prolific flowers that had attractive dark veins streaking through the petal. Plants were exceptionally vigorous and enveloped the container to create a “ball made of flowers”.

Best Petunia (seed-spreading) ““ ‘Trilogy White’ from American Takii, Inc. The prolific flowers had a crisp, clean white color making a striking display. Plants did not lodge and maintained a uniform, mounded growth habit. Blooms were relatively large.

What do you think of these showstoppers? Will you be adding any of them to your production next season? Have you been to any other trials this year? Let me know! Shoot me an e-mail at [email protected] I’d love to hear from you.


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Jasmina Dolce

Jasmina Dolce is managing editor of GPN magazine. She can be reached at [email protected]

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