The American Garden Award Winners are In!

We are delighted to announce the winners of the 4th annual American Garden Awards (AGA), the only national award that enables all gardeners to vote on their favorite ornamental garden plant. Administered by the All-America Selections® Display Garden program, the AGA has quickly become one of the most popular awards in the country.

Voting began on June 1, and the results have now been tallied. Here are the winners!

Grand Prize:Begonia Santa Cruz Sunset
Begonia Santa Cruz™ Sunset
No other plant really had a chance against this waterfall of persimmon-red blooms, cascading from a gorgeous trailing plant just perfect for hanging baskets, tall planters, and windowboxes. Blooming all summer long, this Begonia stands up surprisingly well to heat, rain, and even drought. And the best part? It thrives in sun or shade! You just can't go wrong.

Second Place:
Gazania Big Kiss™ White Flame
Every garden needs one perfect cut-flower, the kind you can depend on guests to swoon over. Big Kiss™ fills the bill spectacularly! These enormous rose-striped blooms last and last, the petals opening primrose and then maturing to white. Get your vases ready for a summer-long display of Big Kiss!

Third Place:
Petunia Surfinia® Deep Red
What would a year be without a thrilling new Petunia?! This one is remarkable indeed, both for its radiant rich color and for its extreme trailing habit. The blooms just keep coming from late spring through summer and well into autumn on super-easy, sun-loving Surfinia!

Here at Park Seed, we are honored to be one of the 28 gardens that grew all 6 nominated plants for viewing. If you visited us this summer, as so many did on Flower Day, you had the opportunity to see all of the nominees in full blooming splendor. Here are the 3 runners up:

Angelonia Serena Blue
It's hard to feel bad for Serena, so heaped with honors and praise has this series been ever since its introduction a few years ago. The blue color is truly magnificent on plants that never quit, blooming right through extremes of heat, humidity, drought, poor soil, and other stresses.

Petchoa SuperCal Pink Ice
Gosh, if you haven't grown the SuperCals yet, dust off your best container and get the camera ready. A Petchoa is a combination of a petunia and a calibrachoa, with the best of both: millions of blooms, and larger than you'd expect them to be! They flower continuously instead of in waves, so you're never out of bloom for months on end.

Sunflower Goldie
Double sunflowers are always breathtaking, but Goldie really goes over the top with multi-flowered heads! No more of this one-flower-per-stalk nonsense - here you get a bouquet of giant fuzzy blooms on every branch! And the plant only reaches 5 to 6 feet high, so you don't have to worry about it towering up the sky. Add it as the 4th Sister in your traditional Native American 3 Sisters planting this summer!

As always, we'll carry all the AGA entrants for spring 2012. Be on the lookout for your favorites!

Sneak Peek at New Veggies for Your 2013 Garden!
Zucchini Northern States Hybrid

Make next season's vegetable garden your very best ever with exciting new varieties from Park! We've got 4 newcomers we just can't wait to show you... so consider this your first sneak peek at the 2013 big seed book!

First, we are proud to introduce not one but two new zucchinis. Northern States Hybrid, as you might guess from its name, is terrific for cool-summer, short-season climates. It's got a revolutionary wide-open habit, so the fruit matures in full sunshine with good air circulation. The result is bigger-than-ever yields just a little more than 6 weeks after the seed is sown!Zucchini Eclipse Hybrid

Eclipse Hybrid is a gourmet baby zuke, looking for all the world like a miniature striped watermelon! Just a couple of inches long, this little squash is so tender, succulent, and scrumptious that you'll keep finding new ways to cook and eat it. And if you can't harvest all the big yields at once, let some of the fruit keep growing on the vine. It's great for stuffing as it reaches larger sizes!Bean Tenderstar

The bean family has made a particularly happy marriage, and the result is Tenderstar, a cross of a runner and a French bean. Already a hit in Europe, the crisp, flavorful 6-inch pods are sold under the name "tender beans." You'll love the colorful pinkish-red blooms on this climber too - a lovely inheritance from its runner parentage!

Pepper Sweet Petite Colour Blend And finally, please meet Pepper Sweet Petite Colour Blend, a gourmet mix of mini bell peppers in all the bright colors and shapes - blocky to rounded, slender to plump! - the whole family loves. Terrifically sweet and crunchy, these kid-pleasers make great canapes, pickles, and salad additions . . . if you can keep from eating them straight off the plant, that is! Make nutrition fun and pretty with this one-of-a-kind new blend, found only here at Park.

Spring planting may seem a long way off, but before you know it we'll all be making our new garden designs and putting together our seed lists. Get a head start on yours by finding a place of honor for this quartet of exciting new veggies!

Meet the New All-America Selection Winners!

If you're looking to grow a sure success from seed this spring, consider selecting an All-America Selection (AAS) winner. AAS is a non-profit, independent organization dedicated to identifying high performing new seed varieties for home gardeners. Among the AAS criteria are ease of growth and adaptability to various climates, so AAS winners tend to be very successful even for beginning gardeners and those with challenging garden weather.

Two new AAS winners have been announced: Echinacea Cheyenne Spirit and Canna South Pacific Scarlet. See if one or both would work well in your garden:

Echinacea Cheyenne Spirit is a mix of colors that flowers the first year from seed, just as PowWow (from the same breeder!) does. These compact, super-stocky plants set 3- to 31/2-inch blooms of gold, scarlet, orange, rose, cream, yellow, or purple from midsummer through the first part of fall. Great against rain and wind, the plants reach about 21/2 feet tall in full bloom, and the flowers are fabulous for cutting. Like all Echinacea, they attract butterflies and bees in summer, birds in fall, and withstand every stress from heat to drought without dropping a petal. One more little bonus . . . they rebloom without being deadheaded!

Canna South Pacific Scarlet is the first hybrid Canna available as seed, and it's making quite an impact! These are gorgeous flowers, orange-scarlet with gold flames, each 4 inches wide. The plant is quite compact, with dark green foliage and about half a dozen flowering stems (each with multiple blooms, of course!). Bees swarm to these flowers over their long summer-into-fall season, and the plants love heat, humidity, and moist to wet soil. Unlike most Cannas, they don't mind a touch of frost, either!

These two sun-lovers are great choices for next spring's garden, and they're available now. You can start them indoors this winter for a full season of glorious color next summer. Get the 2013 garden off to a stunning start with AAS winners!

The Biggest Veggies Come from Park!
Reconstructed Tomato Salad

How is your harvest coming? Park customer Barb from Madisonville, Texas is digging up sweet potatoes the size of cantaloupes! Grown from Park slips, these Georgia Jet sweet potatoes are tipping the scales at 4, 6, and even 8 pounds apiece! Barb harvested them September 12, and will be eating well for months to come.

We are always delighted to see photos of veggies grown from Park seeds and plants, so if you have something special to share, please send a digital photo to inet@parkseed.com along with a short note telling us the name of the crop and where you live. Who knows - your veggies might be featured in the next edition of Park News or on our Facebook page for gardeners across the country to admire!

And the Winner Is...

And the winner is... Anne K. of Greenville, SC! Anne is the winner of our 2012 Recipe Contest! We asked our customers to send in recipes using vegetables or fruits grown from Park's seeds or plants, and we received a mouthwatering assortment of dishes. However, we had to pick the one that tickled our taste buds the most, and Anne's recipe for Gazpacho was the winner. Congratulations, Anne, you'll be receiving a $25 gift certificate, so you can keep coming up with delicious culinary creations!


Here's the great recipe from the year's winner:

Gazpacho

Ingredients:

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 cups cucumbers, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 cup green pepper, cut into small chunks
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 4 cups tomatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. Tabasco (or more to taste)
  • 1 - 46 oz. can tomato juice

Directions & Method:

Combine garlic, cucumbers, green peppers and onion in a bowl.

Put some of the vegetables and some tomatoes in a blender and blend until mixture is almost smooth. (You'll have to do a few batches until all veggies and tomatoes are processed.) Pour finished batches into very large mixing bowl.

Add oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, tabasco and tomato juice. Stir to blend well. Chill.

Serve with warm croutons:
Cubes of white and wheat bread tossed in pan and fried in a mixture of olive oil, butter, garlic powder, salt, pepper, parsley until crispy and lightly browned.