Three plants and four runners-up were chosen as People’s Choice Award winners this year for the 2020 New Varieties Showcase, presented by the Oregon Association of Nurseries and the Farwest Show, and sponsored by Hip Labels. This year’s Farwest Show did not take place due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting closure of host venue the Oregon Convention Center. However, that didn’t stop the New Varieties Showcase from happening. Some 39 plant selections were accepted into this year’s showcase after demonstrating improved qualities from prior selections, such as color, form, habit or disease resistance. After a final tallying of the votes, the three highest-voted plants, as well as some honorable mentions, were as follows:
First place: Treasure Island Makatea Sweet Potato Vine (Ipomoea batatas ‘17-527’ PPAF)
Bred by Louisiana State University (LSU) and introduced by Concept Plants.
The Treasure Island sweet potato series combines flavor and beauty, making it a real treasure for growers and gardeners alike. Makatea bears vigorous vines with chartreuse heart-shaped leaves which look luscious spilling out of hanging baskets or containers. At the end of the season, gardeners can harvest the edible white-flesh tubers, which are ideal for Asian and Caribbean cuisine. Available as quarts from Walla Walla Nursery, and as liners and finished plants from Metrolina Greenhouses, and Raker-Roberta’s Young Plants.
Second place: Alpine Wood Fern ‘Jurassic Gold’ (Dryopteris wallichiana ‘Jurassic Gold’ PPAF)
Discovered by Bob Hollister near the Jurassic Coast, United Kingdom and introduced by Concept Plants.
Dryopteris ‘Jurassic Gold’ is a unique fern that has an excellent spring foliage color. The young shoots are golden orange fading to bright golden-yellow and green. Compared to Dryopteris erythrosora (autumn fern), the new shoots of Jurassic Gold are bigger, bolder and richer in color. Its fresh orange fronds brighten up shaded places in the garden or on the terrace. Plant Jurassic Gold in a moist, humus-rich soil. It performs well in USDA Hardiness Zones 5–9 and so far, no diseases have been observed. Remove the dead leaves of this deciduous plant after winter. Available as tissue culture and liners from Emerald Coast Growers, JRT Nurseries and Meridian Young Plants.
Third place: Clematis Little Lemons (Clematis tangutica ‘Zo14100’ PPAF)
Hybridized by J. van Zoest B.V. in the Netherlands. Introduced by Concept Plants.
When life gives you Little Lemons, plant them! This unique variety was selected because of its compact size, yellow bell-shaped flowers, seed heads, and long flowering period. Perfect as a garden plant, in containers and hanging baskets. Cheerful yellow blooms contrast nicely against the shiny, compact foliage. After flowering, the shiny seed heads appear, giving an extra decorative effect. Little Lemons flowers from mid-May to early September. Prune in March to 4 inches above the ground. Available as tissue culture, liners and finished plants from JRT Nurseries and Meridian Young Plants.
The following plants exhibited a style and grace which set them apart in the contest and earned them runner-up titles.
- Trees: The Miss Congeniali-Tree Award goes to … Ruby Sunset® Maple. Introduced by J. Frank Schmidt & Son Co. With its compact form, heat and drought resistance and stunning scarlet fall color, this tree has earned a place in your nursery or landscape.
- Shrubs: The Brilliant Blossom Award goes to … Akadama Hydrangea. Introduced by Star Roses & Plants. The vibrant flowers of this haute Hydrangea are guaranteed to turn heads. Rich reddish-pink flowers change to a deeper shade of magenta throughout the season, adding a splash of color to any container or flower bed.
- Perennials: The Pinnacle of Perennials Award goes to … Artisan Coneflower ‘Red Ombre’. Introduced by PanAmerican Seed This hot new flowering perennial is the first F1 hybrid Echinacea from seed and will delight growers and gardeners alike with its vermillion flowers, drought tolerance and winter hardiness.
- Annuals: The Five-Star Foliage Award goes to … Heartbreaker Coleus. Introduced by Ball FloraPlant. We can’t help but fall in love with the velvety multi-color foliage of this gorgeous Solenostemon! The frilly chartreuse margins of each leaf give way to a luxurious maroon border which contrasts against the hot pink center.
The Farwest Show was canceled in late May, while Oregon and other states were struggling to contain the spread of COVID-19. Large public events were prohibited from taking place throughout the state by Governor Kate Brown at least through the end of September, or until treatments or vaccinations for the coronavirus were made available. As a result, the Oregon Convention Center determined it could not host the event as scheduled.
The next Farwest Show — to include the New Varieties Showcase — is scheduled to take place August 18–20, 2021 at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, Oregon.
To learn more about purchasing the showcase entries, check out the full-color feature in the August issue of Digger magazine and the Farwest Show website at https://farwestshow.com/new-varieties-showcase/. Many of the new varieties also can be found on the www.NurseryGuide.com plant search site.