Sep 25, 2018
The “Best Of” Winners at CSU By Jasmina Dolce

Last month, I had the opportunity to visit the beautiful trial grounds at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. The staff and students did an excellent job putting together a gorgeous display. I easily could have spent multiple days strolling through the garden, but I packed in as much as I could in one afternoon!

After the second round of evaluations, the results are finally in. According to Jim Klett, professor and Extension landscape horticulturist at CSU, there were 1,100 different varieties from 25 participating companies — one of the most entries ever!

Most judging was done electronically on cell phones and tablets. Attendees were able to easily select their favorites with a simple swipe and tap of a button.

While there was a bad hail storm in May, which required replanting of some of the container trials, the majority of the spring and summer months presented fair weather. June had cooler temperatures with some moisture. July and August were warm, with some days above 90° F. September did see extremely warm temperatures and broke records above 90° F on many days.

Below are some of the “Best Of” Winners from this year’s trials. I’ll share the perennial winners once they are announced.

To learn more about the annual flower trial at CSU and to learn about even more trial winners, go to:

Best of Show: Salvia ‘Big Blue’
PanAmerican Seed

This salvia is a later bloomer that is worth the wait with large flower spikes that are showy in the garden as well as making a good cut flower. Plants had dark green foliage and a strong upright habit, and were a favorite with bees.

Best Novelty: Artemisia ‘Makana Silver’
Terra Nova Nurseries

With fine textured foliage, this plant makes a great complement to many other plants in a classic border. The attractive silver foliage is dense on vigorous and very compact, uniform plants. It would look great in containers and makes a good filler plant.

Best New Variety: Rudbeckia ‘Rising Sun Chestnut Gold’
Green Fuse Botanicals

Huge flowers covered this plant all season, creating impressive flower power. Besides the prolific flowering, the intense color of the flowers made this plant a true standout. It was impossible not to be impressed even from a distance.

Best Angelonia: ‘Archangel Raspberry’
Ball FloraPlant

Flowers were abundant all season but also stood out for the intense unique raspberry color. The upright plants maintained excellent uniformity, and glossy green foliage complemented flowers nicely.

Best Bidens: ‘Bidy Boom Red’
Dümmen Orange

Large amounts of long-lasting red flowers were packed on smaller compact plants with a very tidy habit. Blooms boasted very intense colors to create a lot of flower power. Another bee magnet!

Best Interspecific Geranium: ‘Caliente Coral Salmon’
Syngenta Flowers

Impressive vigor and flowering were the obvious characteristics of this winning plant. Prolific flowering and vibrant color made for exceptional presentation in the landscape.

Best Lobularia: ‘Passionaria Purple White’
Ball Ingenuity

Flowering was so prolific that no foliage was visible. Plants created a mass of intense purple and white bicolor flowers that looked great by themselves or combined with others. Growth habit was very compact and uniform.

Best Combination: ‘Kwik Kombos Fire and Ice Mix’
Syngenta Flowers

Plants created a ball of flowers in a container that had a very high “wow” factor. Colors were vibrant and made an excellent mix. It was noted that very few combinations work with different genera, but this was the exception as the bidens, petunia and lobelia were equally represented.

Have you visited the CSU trials or any other trial gardens this year? Which ones are your favorites to attend? Any new varieties stand out to you from any of your trial visits? Shoot me an email at, and let me know. I’d love to hear from you.

— Jasmina

Jasmina Dolce

Jasmina Dolce is managing editor of GPN magazine. She can be reached at