BONN, Germany: ISU, the International Hardy Plant Union, is proud to present ‘The Golden Quintet’ – five outstanding varieties that a panel of 12 expert judges found to be superior in terms of visual appeal, pest and disease resistance, distinctness, uniformity and stability, and crowned with the ISU Perennial Innovation Award.
More than 50 new perennial plants were bedded out in the trial and display beds of the Botanical Garden in Prague, Czech Republic. Here, Petr Hanzelka and his team ‘measured’ how well a particular variety performed and evaluated all new varieties over a 24 month period.
The ISU Committee for Plant Evaluation awarded five new perennials. Committee Chairman, Jonas Bengtsson from Sweden, said that the trials provided valuable insight into new perennial plants.
Two awards went to Henk de Jong from CNB New Plants for Andropogon gerardii ‘Blackhawks’. This perennial grass forms an upright clump with flattened leaves that evolve from deep green in spring to near black in autumn. The variety stands 150cm tall and has purplish finger-like flower clusters that raise above the foliage in late summer. This perennial grass performs best in full sun.
ISU presented De Jong with a second award for his Dicentra spectabilis ‘Cupid’. Cupid´ has pale pink flowers from April to June. It performs best in full sun/partial shade. The plant has a compact growth habit and stands 60 to 90 cm tall.
Jan Spruyt, the well-known Belgian breeder, received an award for his Silphium terebinthinaceum ‘Moa Ven Toh’, which is believed to be more stable and graceful than the species. The leaves are huge and heart-shaped. Stems that stand up to 250cm tall bear sunflower-like flowers in from August to September. It performs best in full sun/partial shade.
Villier Vaste Planten V.o.f.i.c.m. Compass Plants BV was recognised for its Epimedium ‘Sunny and Share’, a gently spreading plant that forms a green clump in a few years. Yellow flowers rise above small green leaves that are nicely flecked with bronze. This is one of the longest flowering Epimediums on the market producing flowers into midsummer.
Finally Vitroflora from Poland won an ISU award for its Nepeta ‘Neptune’, a compact, clump forming Nepeta with upright stems bearing aromatic, purple blue flowers from early summer into autumn. It stands 70 cm tall and is well-branched with strong stems, that not fall apart.
Perennials have great potential – as universal plants. Their increasing popularity with growers is a result of market tendencies but has also been stimulated by breeders, whose modern genetics are compatible with the demands of contemporary production (short cultivation cycle) and distribution (compact growth habit).
Sustainability as the modern general trend, additionally boosts the role of perennials. Their various, “unlimited” assortment allows them to easily match the present style of landscaping, which focuses on biodiversity, species with natural looks, bee-friendly, drought resistance etc.
One of the driving forces behind the international cooperation in perennials and as such the market growth has been the International Hardy Plant Union (Internationale Stauden-Union, ISU), founded in 1965 and based in Bonn, Germany.