Well, the votes are in and for the second year, attendees to the Illinois Turfgrass Foundation Field Day (Turf Expo) were given the opportunity to tell us what they found interesting in the 2010 University of Illinois Extension Annual Variety Trials. Professionals from the golf course, park district, and landscape maintenance fields of horticulture enjoyed looking at the over 192 cultivars of flowers on display and then given the chance to tells us what they liked. Attendees were given five flags and asked to place them by the cultivars they really found interesting and liked. Why some varieties garnered flags and others didn’t is hard to say but in any case this very informal survey allows you an idea of what the industry professionals find to their liking.
This year there was a tie for the top vote getter. One has been an industry offering form many years, zinnia ‘Uproar Rose’ and one is a new introduction marigold ‘Moonsong Deep Orange’. ‘Uproar Rose’ just commands attention for its large size, electric color and overall nice habit and clean foliage. ‘Moonsong Deep Orange’ is a 2010 All America Selection winner that also impressed visitors. It is tall and covered with large blooms all season. New flowers tend to grow over the older flowers hiding them from view and giving the plant a nice clean appearance with very little dead heading.
Coming in second was another zinnia, ‘Profusion Knee High Red’. The profusion series as a whole performed very well this season and ‘Knee High’ provided a nice mid height plant, covered with blooms and nice clean foliage.
There were five entries that tied for third place. Coleus ‘Versa Crimson Gold’, a seed propagated sun type coleus; gomphrena ‘All Around Purple’, a nice short gomphrena with interesting flower color and zinnia ‘Zowie Yellow Flame’ a tall, brightly colored zinnia with clean foliage and constant flowering. These cultivars have been around for a while and tell us there are still things out there that might not be the ‘newest plant on the block’ but are still worth planting for their good performance. Joining them were two new introductions. Echinacea ‘Pow Wow White’ is a first year from seed blooming Echinacea. It produced outstanding compact plants covered with large, white flowers having very high centers that drew quite a bit of attention. Petunia ‘Phantom’ completed the third place offerings. This new series of petunias did really well staying compact with lots of eye catching flowers in a black and yellow pattern.
There were many others that got the attention of a few visitors and are worth mentioning due to their overall good performance and potential for use in the landscape. In the petunia category ‘Hurrah Blue Veined’ and ‘Rhythm and Blues’ took some votes. Several Sunpatiens were noticed including ‘Compact Orange’, Compact Magenta and ‘Spreading Corona w/GL. A double impatiens ‘Fiesta Sunrise Red’ proved a good plant for a lightly shaded area. Vincas that were noticed include ‘Cora Lavender’, ‘Titan Apricot’, and ‘Titan icy Pink’. Echinacea ‘Pow Wow Wild Berry’ also took some votes and should be recognized for its unique color, very nice habit and blower size.