Each year, Fleuroselect, an international organization that promotes ornamental plants through expert testing and independent judging, recognizes a few select flowers with its Fleuroselect Gold Medal. These new varieties of garden favorites stand out for their exceptional beauty and breeding. In 2012, red and blue flowering plants swept the awards.
1. Agastache hybrida 'Astello Indigo'
Commonly called anise hyssop or hummingbird mint, this agastache variety produces compact plants with spiky blue flowers from seed in its first year. These 20-inch plants bloom from July to October, attracting bees, butterflies, and, of course, hummingbirds. The plants perform well in containers or the sunny flowerbed.
2. Alcea rosea annua 'Spring Celebrities Crimson'
If you’re tired of towering hollyhocks that flop over in the wind, bring their cheerful blooms down to eye level with this compact variety. Growing only two feet tall, these crimson blooms can add the cottage garden feel to your small flowerbed, container garden, or patio. This annual hollyhock performs best in areas with mild or cool summers.
3. Echinacea hybrida 'Cheyenne Spirit'
Coneflower varieties have exploded in recent years, and there are now more red and orange hues for consumers to choose from. These perennials bloom from July to September in shades of red, yellow, orange, purple and cream, creating a rainbow effect from a few plants. The 30-inch tall plants are drought tolerant, and hardy to zone 4.
4. Salvia coccinea 'Summer Jewel Red'
Put these compact, free-flowering annuals at the front of your garden beds where you can enjoy their vivid red blooms from spring until frost. These Mexican natives attract butterflies and hummingbirds with their tubular blossoms.
5. Viola cornuta ‘Sorbet XP Delft Blue’
In the spring and fall, violas fill in the blank spots in your flower garden with their cheerful faces. Gardeners will celebrate the saturated true-blue color of these compact plants in pots, hanging baskets, and flowerbeds. This viola variety is hardier than other large flowering pansies, and you can extend the show with regular deadheading.