The outstanding plants and products that have earned recognition as PHS Gold Medal winners were announced February 28 and exhibited at the 2013 PHS Philadelphia Flower Show. Visitors to the Show were able to learn about the habits of each of these cultivars and make plans to include them in their own landscapes.
For more than 30 years, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society has honored and promoted plants of exceptional merit through the PHS Gold Medal program. Nominations come from home gardeners, designers, horticulturists, landscape architects, growers and owners of nurseries–anyone who loves trees, shrubs and vines.
The winners are chosen for their beauty, performance, and hardiness in the growing region of Zones 6-7 (covering the region from Philadelphia to Harrisburg, and from New York to Washington, D.C). When gardeners acquire a Gold Medal winner, they can be assured the plant will exhibit standards of excellence for hardiness, disease and pest resistance, and ease of growing when planted and maintained as recommended.
The Gold Medal plants and products will be available for purchase at the PHS Store at the Flower Show, and at PHS Meadowbrook Farm in Abington Township, PA, this spring.
The winning plants are:
Hinoki Cypress Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Nana Gracilis’
‘Nana Gracilis’ isn’t a new cultivar, but it is sorely under-used compared to dwarf Alberta spruce, which is the dwarf, pyramidal conifer that gets planted in so many housing developments. ‘Nana Gracilis’ grows upright and slowly like dwarf Alberta spruce, but it is much more bug-resistant.
Blue Velvet St. John’s Wort – Hypericum ‘Blue Velvet’
The carefree nature of St.John’s Wort is well known, but ‘Blue Velvet’ stands above the rest for distinctive blue foliage and extended flowering period with buttery-yellow blooms. In addition to being widely adaptable in full sun or part shade, it is a hybrid with native parentage that provides a bonus for naturalistic landscapes. With members of the St. John’s Wort genus being medicinal herbs, ‘Blue Velvet’ should continue to remain unpalatable to deer and a highlight in the landscape.
Black Tupelo Tree Nyssa sylvatica ‘Wildfire’
‘Wildfire’ Black Tupelo has spectacular red-tipped new growth into summer, and it is one of the most stunning autumn foliage choices. It is the perfect companion for maples’ fall color. Its small black fruits make this tree an amazing native selection for wildlife interest.
Dwarf Highbush Blueberry Vaccinium corymbosum ‘Sunshine Blue’
This is an elite selection that is the epitome of what the PHS Gold Medal represents: seasonal interest, durably growing, and a reward to have in the garden. It can be used as an ornamental shrub in the landscape, has fruit-bearing blueberry selection that is complemented by its blue foliage, and is a worthy choice for use as a hedge in the garden with its uniform habit of growth.
The Gold Medal program has been expanded this year to include superb horticultural products and a mobile application that serves as an excellent electronic tool for gardeners. A PHS Gold Medal Product must have a leading role in the competitive landscape through novel features, outstanding value for the price, notable ease of use, attractive aesthetic, and a demonstrable boost to the customer’s productivity.
The winners are:
Lesche Digging Tool
This is the best and last digging tool you will ever need for your garden. Lesche Digging Tools are made in the U.S. with a blade that is heat-treated for great strength. These products are so strong and indestructible that they are the digging tool of choice among soliders in Iraq and were used for the World Trade Center cleanup.
Organic Mechanics produces all-natural, sustainable soils that provide superior results. Their soils, biochar, and compost tea are 100 percent organic, made with locally sourced ingredients, completely peat-free, and used by professional gardeners at arboretums and botanical gardens including PHS Meadowbrook Farm, Longwood Gardens, Scott Arboretum, and Chanticleer.
Developed by researchers from Columbia University, the University of Maryland, and the Smithsonian Institution, this free mobile app uses visual recognition software to help identify tree species from photographs of their leaves. This innovative app contains beautiful, high-resolution images of leaves, flowers, fruit, petiole, seeds, and bark, and a user-generated map that shows where these trees can be found near you.