Industry Picks from the 2019 Annual Trial Garden

By James E. Klett, Ph.D.
Professor & Landscape Horticultural Specialist
Colorado State University

On Tuesday, August 6, more than 175 industry professionals and advanced Colorado Master Gardeners rated more than 1,050 flowering and foliage plants at the Annual Trial Gardens Evaluation Day. In the last issue of LooseLeaf, I discussed some of the Consumer Favorites, which do not always line up with the professional picks. Listed below are the industry’s picks for ‘Best of Show’, ‘Best Novelty’ and ‘Best New Variety’ along with their choices in some of the major genera. I hope greenhouses will grow and retailers will sell many of these proven plants for Colorado conditions.

Best of Show

Dahlia ‘City Lights™ Purple’ from Selecta
The dark foliage and flowers of this variety made a dramatic statement in the garden. The growth habit had excellent uniformity with upright plants that did not flop despite overhead irrigation. Plants had strong flower power and were favorites of the bees.

Best Novelty

Begonia T-Rex™ ‘Ruby Slippers’ from TERRA NOVA
The huge red leaves had silvery edges that would make a great contrast for color and texture with other plants in the garden. Plant is grown mainly for the foliage. It made a very eye-catching plant for areas with dry shade and can be added either in the ground or containers.

Best New Variety

Petunia ‘Headliner™ Dark Saturn’ from Selecta
The unique flower color was very impressive with a bold, soft creamy yellow and a dark star-shaped eye. Plants had strong vigor and developed into a uniform blanket of blooms in the container. Plants and flowers held up well in the heat.

Other Top Picks for Outstanding Varieties from Different Genera

Begonia (sun) – ‘Tophat™ Pink’ from Syngenta Flowers
Plants had great vigor but maintained a very uniform growth habit. Flowers were unusually large and very abundant, which made them immensely popular with the bees. Plants looked great in either the ground or containers, and only got better looking even into fall.

Begonia (tuberous) – ‘Illumination® Apricot Shades’ from Benary
Large, double, bicolor blooms in soothing shades of apricot were very attractive. The trailing growth habit works well in containers. Plants had good vigor and were very healthy.


Impatiens ‘Beacon™ White’ from Pan American Seed
Snowy white flowers covered the plant canopy, providing a bright splash of color for shady areas. The vigorous plants maintained a controlled growth for excellent uniformity. The added bonus for the entire Beacon™ series is that they have strong resistance to impatiens downy mildew, which has devastated many impatiens walleriana in the past few years.

Geranium (zonal) – ‘Galaxy™ Watermelon’ from Ball Flora Plant
The large watermelon-colored flowers looked good enough to eat. The bright bicolor flowers were very attractive with just a small splash of white for the eye. Plants had good uniformity and were covered in blooms.


New Guinea Impatiens – ‘Sun Patiens® Vigorous Red Improved’ from Sakata
Large red flowers covered the foliage, creating a nearly solid canopy of color that provided dependable blooming all season long. The foliage that was visible was a nice dark green and helped make the flower color pop. Plants had great vigor with an upright mounding habit that was very uniform.

Petunia (ground) ‘Color Rush™ White’ from Ball Floral Plant
The uniform mound of bright, white flowers was impressive all season long. Plants were vigorous but maintained a tight growth habit.



Verbence ‘Lascar™ Black Velvet’ from Selecta
The unique black flower color and prolific blooming made this a standout from the rest. The deep black color would mix well with other colors. Plants had good vigor and uniform growth.