The URI Botanical Garden is once again home to the All-America Selections after many years. Way back when, in the 1980s, the All- America Selections Trial Garden was located near the stage area of the Botanical Garden. There were neat little rows of bedding plants: marigolds, petunias, and pansies all lined up, nothing over 18 inches tall. It wasn’t very exciting, so when possibly hosting an All- America Display Garden came up, I was lukewarm to the idea.
As it happened, there were two areas of the Botanical Garden which were a little neglected and in need of new energy. The veggie garden near the Outreach Center was started with the best of intentions by the Master Gardeners, but soon fell into disarray. The herb garden, also called the children’s garden, also went by the wayside, without a clear design or goal. These two areas turned out to be just enough room for us to create the 2010 All-America Display Garden.
How it works: The AAS sends us seeds for the chosen varieties of flowers and plants. We start the seeds and plant out the display, which is open to the public. AAS mission :
“To promote new garden seed varieties with superior garden performance judged in impartial trials in North America.”
I still think the AAS has more than it’s share of bedding plants, but there IS one plant that’s caught my eye. It’s the Zinnia ‘Zowie Yellow Flame’. I love zinnias anyway, well, not all, but any TALL variety. I grow State Fair and Benary Giants at home, four feet tall and all those colors! Magenta, rose, salmon, red , yellow, orange, and everything in between. The Zowie Yellow Flame is a colorful and taller variety that is looking great right now.
It’s about 24 -30 inches tall with orange petals that have yellow notched tips. The centers are red which contrast nicely with yellow “stars” that develop as the flower matures. There’s a bit of variability in the colors, with some flowers leaning toward mostly yellow, and some toward mostly red/orange. The differences in color make a for a real eye-catching display.
I’ve enjoyed the Display Garden very much this year and the chance to work with the AAS folks, who are dedicated and enthusiastic gardeners. Their passion for getting new, high-performing varieties out to the public is something I can appreciate. Zinnia ‘Zowie Yellow Flame’ is a great kickoff to the Botanical Garden’s renewed All-America Display Garden.