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Master Gardener Journal  


S P E C I A L   F E A T U R E



National Garden Bureau Introduces New Flowers & Vegetables

by Evelyn Helm,
Master Gardener


PetuniasThe National Garden Bureau is a consortium of over twenty-five growers of flowers and vegetables that produce many of the new seeds and plants that are sold to home and farm growers each year. These companies either grow the plants in their own fields, or contract producers to supply them. Seeds are harvested and made available to the public through seed catalogs, or in seed packets offered through retail stores and nurseries.

Each year, horticulturists and bureau members grow new varieties of flowers and vegetables in trial gardens, looking for new flower colors and shapes or vegetables with improved flavor and other desirable qualities. The goal is to compile the results from the trial gardens, decide on the year's winning plants, and then grow enough of them to present their seeds as All America selections.

In 2003, twelve new plants are being presented to the public. Nine are flowers, one is an ornamental grass, one is a super sweet melon, and one is a zucchini-type squash. All twelve of the plants will grow in our desert valley. We can choose them for our gardens by buying and planting the seeds, or by locating transplants at valley nurseries.

Two petunias are listed. Their names are 'Blue Wave' and 'Merlin Blue Morn.'

A dianthus 'Corona Cherry Magic' is a unique petite plant with 2- to 3-inch single flowers in a mosaic of colors that may be striped or flecked with other colors. This plant is said to have an exceptional garden performance, tolerating hot temperatures. It is a good choice as a winter-flowering annual. It needs fertile soil and a sunny position, and is recommended for patio containers and window boxes.

A new vinca, 'Jalo Dark Red' extends the colors available in this popular summer flowering plant.

An unusual "Triple A" selection is an ornamental millet called 'Purple Majesty.' It is the first ornamental millet ever offered as a garden plant, and is so highly regarded by Bureau judges as to win a Gold Medal award. It is a plant that commands attention, 3 to 5 feet tall with purple leaves and spikes that become purple as the seeds mature. It needs warm soil and ample space (about 2 feet apart) to grow. Immature spikes make lovely floral arrangements. Birds will harvest mature seeds.

Other flowers included in the 2003 AAS winners are Agastache 'Golden Jubilee,' Gaillardia 'Sundance,' Rudbeckia 'Prairie Sun,' Carnation 'Can Can Scarlet, and ' Eustoma 'Forever White.' The vegetables are Melon 'Angel,' and Squash 'Papaya Pear.'

Seeds of these plants are offered by a number of seed catalogs, but the one that lists them all is Park Seeds, PO Box 46, Greenwood, SC 29648-9982. Their catalog is free.



Maricopa County Master Gardener Volunteer Information
Last Updated April 29, 2003
Author: Lucy K. Bradley, Extension Agent Urban Horticulture, University of Arizona Cooperative Extension, Maricopa County
© 1997 The University of Arizona, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cooperative Extension in Maricopa County
Comments to Maricopa-hort@ag.arizona.edu 4341 E. Broadway Road, Phoenix, AZ 85040,
Voice: (602) 470-8086 ext. 301, Fax (602) 470-8092