The committee selects a Georgia Gold Medal winner each year in four classes: annuals, herbaceous perennials, woody ornamentals and trees. Since 1994, the program has helped many deserving plants break into Georgia landscapes.
The main hurdle a plant must clear is a matter of supply and demand, Wade said. If it's not popular, the demand is low, so growers don't supply many, so prices stay high, so demand stays low....
"It's a vicious cycle," he said. "Plants have to go through a tough period of introduction. It can be a wonderful plant, but it takes a while for it to break into the market."
Some plants that could be prized additions to your landscape might never make it there. "These are plants that are already out there in the market," he said of the Georgia Gold Medal winners. "They're proven, superior plants, but are underused."
The Georgia Gold Medal winners were revealed to growers last summer so they could propagate ample supplies.
The 2002 Georgia Gold Medal selections:
- Annual: Lady in Red salvia (Salvia coccinea).
- Perennial: Blue Mist bluebeard (Caryopteris x clandonensis).
- Shrub: purple beauty-berry (Callicarpa dichotoma).
- Tree: Forest Pansy, Oklahoma and Texas White redbuds (Cercis canadensis).
(Dan Rahn is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)