Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
Floral designers can choose from many award winning flowers. These are suitable for floral designs, and are especially good choices for cutting gardens. Here are some top performers.
Kira Coral Bells Series
The coral bells ranked among the top five perennials in certain areas,
including North Carolina, Missouri, and British Columbia. One particular series of coral bells, the Kira, received a perfect rating of five at the Michigan State University plant trials in East Lansing during 2010.
The Kiras are hardy to zone five. Withstanding drought and heat, they tend to bloom very early in the season. These have a mounding growth habit. The series includes seven varieties so far. All of them were award winners.
Kira Green Forest has gray-silver leaves touched with green. The prominent veins are dark green. The back of the leaves are just as colorful with a mix of red, gray, and green.
Kira Autumn Leaves combines apricot and peach in the foliage colors. Underneath they’re reddish-copper.
Kira Jungle Green combines silver and green and is marked with green veins.
The undersides are red and silver. Kira Temperate Green sports gray-silvery foliage with green veins.
Kira Tiaga Green has foliage that emerges reddish-orange. Over time this turns to deep green. Kira Rain Forest has reddish-purple foliage with prominent green veins. Kira Sunset Green foliage is a mix of green, orange, and red. The undersides are purple.
The coral bells have sprays of delicate white to cream, tiny, bell-shaped blooms. The cut stems are used as a small filler flower. The blossoms have a vase life of about five days or so.
Several of the ornamental peppers stood out at plant trials around the country. These make great cut flowers. Sangria was an award winner at the Colorado State University.
Purple Flash was named a Plants of Merit selection. A Midwest consortium, which includes the Missouri Botanical Garden, selects the winners each year. They choose plants of merit that deserve more use in Midwestern landscapes. Purple Flash also received an American Garden Awards in 2010. The plants were on display at 18 public gardens around the country, and the public was asked to vote on their favorite plant. Purple Flash was in third place.
This variety has lovely small purple blooms and striking variegated foliage. The foliage is very vivid—a mix of black and bright purple. Overall, the leaves are close to black. The plants are over 1˝ feet in height with a matching spread. And have a layered look that seems very exotic. Purple Flash bears lots of round, shiny fruits, which ripen to black. Though they’re edible, these are considered too hot to eat.
Very tolerant of heat, these are beautifully shaped, bushy, rounded plants. The Purple Flash plants are often marketed as part of the Fantastic Foliage Selection brand.