The Best Plants Win Awards

March 13, 2015

If you grow award-winning plants your garden will thrive and be a thing of great beauty.


Here’s a brutal fact. If something is ordinary, it won’t win awards. But if it’s extraordinary, it will. It’s the same in the world of plants. The best plants – the gorgeous, proven performers – these win the awards. So if the horticultural experts declare that something is special, perhaps we should take notice. After all, gardeners are not fools (we quickly learn what works and what doesn’t). If we pay attention to what the experts say our landscapes would be full, not only of award winners, but lovely, thriving plants. The following award-winning plants are all winners and they all come from the same source, Anthony Tesselaar Plants . . .


award winning plants

Volcano Phlox’s dense mounds are the heroes here tucked between the lillies (front) and the Flower Carpet roses (rear).

Phlox Volcano is hot news: it’s recently been announced as Oklahoma’s State Perennial for 2015, one of a handful of plants worthy to carry the title of “Oklahoma Proven.” Thanks to the faculty members of the Oklahoma State University Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, this particular Phlox paniculata has been acknowledged as being amongst the chosen best, and with good reason. Volcano is more compact, fragrant, and powdery-mildew-tolerant than other garden phlox types. Plants produce an abundance of large flowers from June to September (tip: cut back after initial bloom). Colors include red, pink, ruby, white, lavender, and purple, with eyes of pink, red, or white. Showy enough to use as an accent plant, Volcano is glorious in groups, and magnificent as a mass planting. It’s a wildlife booster – butterflies and hummingbirds love its fragrant flowers – and it grows from full sun through to part shade, in well drained soils, USDA zone 4-10.


Flower Carpet roses are veteran winners: Flower Carpet Pink won its first Gold Medal in 1988, and in the years since, these long flowering, evergreen, disease resistant and drought tolerant roses have won 27 key rose awards. What’s even more astonishing is that six of those are the much-coveted All Deutsland Rose Award, which over a three year period demands that applicant roses display an extraordinary standard of disease resistance, hardiness, attractiveness, and growth habit. Flower Carpet is clearly a stand-out rose from the experts’ endorsements and a favorite out in the public arena. From home gardens to professionally created landscapes, Flower Carpet roses are everywhere for good reason. Simple to grow and easy to maintain, they don’t require spraying, grow around 30 inches tall and 40 wide, then in late winter or early spring, you simply cut them back to a third. They’ll produce masses of flowers all season long, from mid spring through to fall with ten different Flower Carpet roses to choose from.

award winning plants

Flower Carpet rose White

Tropicanna gets the RHS rave: Everyone in the gardening universe pays attention when the British Royal Horticultural Society gives out an Award of Garden Merit. They put contenders through the hoops and the winners must “be of outstanding excellence for garden decoration or use”, of “good constitution”, not need “highly specialist growing conditions or care” and must not be “particularly susceptible to any pest or disease”. Tropicanna has an Award of Garden Merit, and together with its sisters, Tropicanna Black and Tropicanna Gold, they are absolutely stunning garden additions. Statuesque, bold and brilliantly coloured (both foliage and flowers are gorgeous), these cannas will grow in full sun to part shade, in USDA zones 7 through 11 (no lifting required).

award winning plants

Tropicanna canna


Florida gives Bonfire high marks: Bonfire Begonia earned itself a University of Florida outstanding variety award, which makes sense if you’ve seen one (and chances are that you have). These begonias are bushy, densely-covered show-stoppers. Perfect for pots, hanging baskets, window boxes, or garden beds, Bonfire grows well in full sun or partial shade and it copes with both summer rains or drier conditions. It’s ideal where you need masses of color with little or no care. USDA zones 9-11.

award winning plants

Bonfire begonia


Rock & Roll is a winner too: There’s a lot to love about Alstromeria Rock & Roll™ which is why it has a silver medallion from Europe’s massive Plantarium trade fair. This award recognizes Rock & Roll as a stand out. It grows fast into a midsize (three foot high) bushy clump which covers itself in masses of deep red flowers. Flowering is long lasting, beginning in spring and winding up in autumn, with some spot flowers at other times of the year in warmer climates. But perhaps Rock & Roll’s best feature is its foliage which is a glorious variegated mix of green and yellow, topped off with splashes of pure white as the yellow foliage matures. Rock & Roll is happy in full sun through to part shade, USDA zones 8-10.

award winning plants

Rock & Roll alstromeria


And the standouts in Magnolias are the collection of magnolias bred by the Jury family in New Zealand – Black Tulip, Burgundy Star, Felix and Honey Tulip – all of which are extraordinary contributions. These are gorgeous trees, beautiful beyond measure, each quite different and all robust and easy to grow well (cold hardy to USDA zone 5). So it’s fitting that their breeder, Mark Jury holds one of the most coveted international magnolia prizes. The Todd Gresham Award, administered by the US-based International Magnolia Society, has only ever been presented to 24 people worldwide. Enough said.

award winning plants

The most beautiful of flowering trees for the garden, the show stopping, cup-and-saucer-flower-sized, Felix Magnolia.



Click here to visit Tesselaar’s Flickr Photo Library for free downloadable images, or contact Judie Brower at

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