I love it when various gardening associations or plant companies come up with their picks for “Plant of the Year.” If you haven’t already noticed, get ready to see gardening pages, sites, tweets, Instagrams (is that a real word?), Pinterests (again, can the word be used as a noun?) loaded with images of ‘The’ plant of 2018. Could be an annual, a shrub, a perennial….
The decision to designate often appears to be made by the large growers – the folks who propagate and sell plants – or by a plant association.
For example, this year the Perennial Plant Association in the U.S. says it’s Allium ‘Millenium.’ This is an interesting plant, and not just for the unusual way ‘Millenium’ is spelled. No spring ephemeral here; the glossy green leaves won’t die back late spring but instead remain throughout the growing season.
The flower-bearing scapes appear mid to late summer, rising above the 12 – 15 inch leaves, and produce 2” purple globes that are said to be huge pollinator magnets.
The plant company Proven Winners, on the other hand, has chosen a new Heuchera – Primo ‘Black Pearl’ (a cultivar of Heuchera villosa) as its choice. (They also have an annual of the year and a shrub of the year – Petunia Supertunia ‘Bordeaux’ and Weigela ‘Spilled Wine,’ respectively. All of these cultivars are trademarked.)
Across the pond in Germany, the Association of Perennial Gardeners has picked Hemerocallis as its Perennial of the Year. Not any particular cultivar – the entire species! I like that – no need to choose amongst colour, form, size or even how many chromosomes there are. Any daylily is great! For the Field to Table set, the Association for the Conservation of Crop Diversity (VEN) thinks the common rutabaga is the right choice, and wants “to share the knowledge of this classic vegetable with the world.”
The American Hosta Growers Association has decided that ‘World Cup’ is the Hosta of the year. This is a ‘Komodo Dragon’ x ‘Superbowl’ cultivar that “forms an upright clump of deeply cupped, moderately wavy, deeply corrugated, bright gold foliage.” It has purple flowers, if anyone is interested.
And for you rose lovers, the cherry-red
Lovestruck (Dicommatac) rose has been named Rose of the Year in Great Britain. This is a lightly scented, double-petalled floribunda rose, bred in Ireland, and said to have ‘outstanding health and vigour.’ At least in the British Isles.
Plants of the Year. At best, a great way to pique interest and introduce a new species or cultivar to the home garden. At worst, a marketing gimmick for fussy but pretty flowers that don’t live up to their promise.