Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
When it comes to choosing flowers for your cutting garden, you’ll never go wrong if you select All-American Selections (AAS) flowers. For 2004, there are several award winners.
Three of the flower winners can be used as either cut flowers or dried as everlastings. These include Gypsy Deep Rose Gypsophila or baby’s breath as well as Fresh Look Yellow and Fresh Look Red celosia.
Everything about Gypsy Deep Rose Gypsophila is improved. Its dainty, rose-
like blooms are larger (up to 3/8”), and there are more of them over a longer period of time. In addition, the blossoms are darker in color. They are double and semi-double. You should be able to harvest blooms throughout the growing season.
Gypsy Deep Rose is an easy-care plant, and requires very little attention in the cutting garden. These annuals have a mounding growth habit, reaching about ten inches in height. Their spread is about fourteen inches.
Gypsy Deep Rose makes a remarkable cut flower. Traditionally, baby’s breath has been used in bridal bouquets. This new variety would be very suitable for that, assuming the deep rose color fits into the color scheme selected for the wedding.
Fresh Look Yellow celosia and Fresh Look Red celosia feature distinctive feathery plumes of blooms that are just ideal for both cut and dried flowers. Fresh Look Yellow will provide you with flowers throughout the late spring and summer months. The flowers are very long lasting. Once the initial blooms from the central plumes begin to fade, additional side shoots will appear with new flowers. Whatever the weather, Fresh Look Yellow will do well. It performed beautifully in hot, humid weather under severe growing conditions. As with Gypsy Deep Rose, Fresh Look Yellow and Fresh Look Red require very little attention.
Fresh Look Red was truly outstanding. It received a Gold Medal. The plants rarely exhibit any pest problems. Yet, they thrive in all kinds of situations—from rain and drought to typical hot, humid summer weather.
In addition to being named AAS winners, Fresh Look Yellow and Fresh Look Red received awards from the Europeans as well. Fresh Look Red received the coveted Fleuroselect Gold Medal, while Fresh Look Yellow received the Fleuroselect Quality mark.
The final 2004 AAS award-winning flower for cut gardens is Queeny Purple hollyhock. This one is unique for two reasons. First, there is the unique flower color. This is the very first purple hollyhock to be sold as a single color rather than in a mix. In addition, the plants are very compact for hollyhocks.
Queeny Purple has an extra-long blooming season, so you can harvest blooms throughout the season until frost. And the plants produce lots of blooms, so you can harvest all you need. The delightful dark violet blooms are three to four inches across, and have frilly edges. This type of hollyhock is a powder puff type with a cushion center. I like to float the blooms in bowls of water. They’re just spectacular for displaying this way. The compact branching plants are only 2½ feet tall, making them ideal for small cutting gardens.
If planted very early (February or March), Queeny Purple will bloom the first year. Because of its quick-blooming capacity, it can be grown as an annual or a perennial.
As with other AAS winners, the seeds should be available locally and through mail-order sources. Of all these varieties, hollyhocks are one of the easiest to grow from seed. They are suitable for novice as well as experienced gardeners. Gypsy Deep Rose Gypsophila is also fairly easy to grow from seed. If you prefer to buy plants rather than seed, these should be available at local garden centers and nurseries.
All of these new AAS varieties will thrive in full sun. Hollyhocks will tolerate shade part of the day.
Whatever the situation, these AAS and Fleuroselect winners are the ones to choose.