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US: AAS announces winners of “Foodscaping” landscape design challenge

This year All-America Selections challenged the AAS Display Gardens to create a design based on the theme “Foodscaping-Interspersing Edibles in the Ornamental Garden.”

For this challenge, AAS provided the gardens with Winner seed from the last five years. They also had the option to incorporate any older AAS Winners from the past 85 years. Gardens not only had to create and execute a design based on this year’s theme, but also had to generate publicity about the challenge and AAS Winners as well as submit photos documenting their creations. The judges were impressed by the creativity exhibited when combining edibles and ornamentals in each of the participating gardens. Many gardens were so successful growing their edible AAS Winners that they donated their produce to local food banks and food pantries.

Click here to see Rules and Regulations for the Landscape Design Challenge.

Gardens were divided into three categories based on the number of visitors per year:
  • Category I: fewer than 10,000 visitors per year
  • Category II: 10,001 – 100,000 visitors per year
  • Category III: Over 100,000 visitors per year
All-America Selections recognizes and thanks the contest judges who are industry experts in the field of horticulture and landscaping:
  • Jeff Gibson, Landscape Business Manager, Ball Horticultural Company
  • Bruce Hellerick, Director of Technical Services, BrightView Landscape Services
  • Barbara Wise, Author and Sales and Marketing Manager, Crescent Garden

Category I: fewer than 10,000 visitors per year
First Place Winner: University of Wisconsin Spooner Ag Research Station, Spooner, Wisconsin. The culmination of a multi-year landscape design project resulted in a beautifully designed new series of gardens highlighting both old and new AAS Winners at the UW Ag Research Station. A central pinwheel garden and nearby vertical and container gardens used AAS Winners to show visitors how they could mix edibles and ornamentals in their home gardens. Spooner went one step further in their Monarch and Pollinator Sanctuary Garden and included native versions of many AAS plants. Not only were the judges impressed with the overall designs in the gardens but also how garden staff and volunteers promoted the contest with their newsletter, workshops, events and multiple media outreach.

Second Place Winner: Master Gardeners Association of Tippecanoe Country (MGATC), Lafayette, Indiana. The MGATC took advantage of existing flower beds to concentrate on mixing and matching veggies and ornamentals in-ground, in containers and in raised beds. One hanging basket included tomato Fantastico, Profusion Double Hot Cherry zinnia and feathery fennel Antares. In raised beds they layered ornamentals and vegetables using South Pacific Scarlet cannas followed by Candle Fire okra, Profusion Double Deep Salmon zinnia then a row of lower-growing Artwork broccoli, Katarina cabbage, Konan kohlrabi, Prizm kale and Red Kingdom mizuna. A thorough and impressive 6-page article in the local Lafayette magazine brought many guests to the gardens with questions, enabling them to further their motto of helping others grow.

Third Place Winner: Kenosha County Center AAS Display & Demonstration Garden, Kenosha, Wisconsin. In the category of “Good Ideas to Copy” Kenosha wins hands down! They did a great job incorporating edibles into their Demonstration Garden and used unique “containers” such as an obsolete satellite dish, an old Papasan chair and other unusual items to hold their plantings. To further the theme of “AAS Recipe for Success” Kenosha County adorned many containers with cooking utensils and displayed AAS Edible Winners of interest. AAS Winner Butterscotch squash grew in straw bales with signage stating: “Don’t bale on squash! AAS winning squash adds vitamin A and fiber to your diet!” Patio Choice Yellow tomatoes grew in a sink - “Sink your teeth into an AAS winning Patio Choice Yellow tomato.” And their Lawnchair Learning educational series caught the judge’s eyes. Ingenuity, creativity and innovation really showed through this summer in Kenosha County!

Honorable Mention, “First Year Participant”: Miami University Hamilton Conservatory, Hamilton, Ohio.

Honorable Mention, “Historical Reference”: Jennings Park Master Gardener Display Garden, Marysville, Washington.

Honorable Mention, “Edible Sampling”: Parker F. Scripture Botanical Gardens, Oriskany, New York.

Honorable Mention, “Food Bank Donation”: Southwest Indiana Master Gardener Demonstration Gardens, Evansville, Indiana.

Honorable Mention, “Use of Display Garden Sign”: the Community Arboretum at Virginia Western, Roanoke, Virginia.

Honorable Mention, “Providing Recipes for AAS Winners”: Rogers Farm Demonstration Garden, Old Town, Maine.

Category II: 10,001 – 100,000 visitors per year
First Place Winner: Purdue Extension Marion County Demonstration Garden, Indianapolis, Indiana. This garden is located on the Indiana state fairgrounds where Master Gardener volunteers interact with 13,000 visitors during the 17-day fair. Over 300 visitors participated in the “spin the wheel and find the plant” game for younger gardeners to discover AAS edibles that are suitable for foodscaping. The lush, healthy foodscaping design featured Candle Fire okra, Aji Rico and Hot Sunset peppers (to name a few) in the main ornamental garden. They also used three AAS pumpkin Winners (Pepitas, Super Moon and Cinderella’s Carriage) as ground cover around a newly planted ornamental tree (genius!). A lunch and learn lecture on the topic of foodscaping further explained the concept featuring AAS edibles in easy take-home messages. Attractive signage on the concept of foodscaping featuring AAS edibles was also used in and around the garden.

Second Place Winner: Jardin Daniel A Seguin, Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec, Canada. Jardin Daniel A. Séguin made a very deliberate point to promote All-America Selection (AAS) winners and demonstrate to visitors that mixing edible and ornamental plants is a winning approach. Three areas were in this year’s challenge: the roof, the wall of the eco-friendly horticulture Pavilion, and ground level beds. By exploiting different surfaces, the garden showed an innovative approach to horticulture, demonstrating its full potential, including Canada’s largest edible green wall composed of more than 1,300 plants, made up mostly of AAS Winners. The AAS Display Garden was clearly identified with signs and identification tags. In addition to allowing visitors to identify their favorite plants, this information has an important pedagogical value for the students of the Agriculture Technology Institute of Saint-Hyacinthe who produced the winning plants in their classes. The AAS garden has been a source of discoveries throughout the summer with visitors capturing thousands of images and provoking many a "Wow" from visitors as well as from the contest’s judges.

Third Place Winner, Tie: Green Bay Botanical Garden, Green Bay, Wisconsin. Green Bay reinvented the term Foodscaping and called their project "Ediscaping" and exclusively used AAS Winners dating from 1939 to the present. In their children's garden, they utilized 5 different beds to demonstrate multiple designs mixing ornamental and edible varieties. One bed used Queen Sofia marigold as a centerpiece then arranged tomatoes in a diamond pattern around the flowers. Another bed featured Bright Lights Swiss chard and Prizm kale arranged in half-moons with other edibles and ornamentals creating a medley of color. Lastly, another bed had a “heat” theme featuring rows of hot peppers, including Emerald Fire and Flaming Flare. Ornamentals such as Zowie!™ Yellow Flame zinnia and Ring of Fire sunflower completed that bed. All produce was harvested from these beds by ASPIRO, an organization creating opportunities for people with disabilities to reach goals, connect community, and achieve independence. Almost 300 pounds of produce was donated to Paul’s Pantry, a local food pantry.

Third Place Winner, Tie: Shell Park, Oakville, Ontario, Canada. Shell Park in Oakville, Ontario has created an AAS Display garden that has become the main attraction as you enter the park’s garden. It has increased the number of visitors who come to ask questions, learn and get ideas for their own gardens. Through companion planting and installation of a multi-tiered wall they were able to educate the public on new ways to garden with vegetables. They found and explained how companion plantings (ex. tomatoes and peppers) increased growth and crop yield. A multi-tiered wall created from recycled materials was filled with a combination of edible and ornamental plants. It displayed an easy way to maximize plant material while saving space in a smaller garden. It also reduced the damage caused by animals and adapted the space to be more accessible. The perennial pollinator plantings from last year’s contest attracted a greater bee population which benefited this year’s growth. Due to a large crop yield, Shell Park donated a large amount of vegetables to a local street mission that provided meals to the community.

Honorable Mention, “Overcoming Challenges”: St. John’s County Arboretum, St. Augustine, Florida.

Category III: Over 100,000 visitors per year
First Place Winner: Dow Gardens, Midland, Michigan. Dow Gardens Children’s Garden is a vegetable and flower display garden allowing guests to see and interact with the edible and flowering plants (yes, it is ok to pick and eat!). This year, the garden had 30 varieties of AAS Award Winning plants grown to create its dynamic, colorful and eye-catching display. The meticulously planned and tended rainbow bed was planted around the famous Sir-Ham-A-Lot the Pig. Many AAS winners (South Pacific Scarlet canna, Fresh Look Yellow celosia and Jam ‘N Jellies Blackberry vinca) were used and included Dolce Fresca basil for the green strip of the rainbow. Another combination of Gretel eggplant and Prizm kale bordered the bed with pops of Warrior bunching onion to create a vertical flare. The Garden hosts numerous programs throughout the summer including a Growin’ Gardener Program in which 84 families enroll to get hands-on experience growing vegetables and annual flowers.

Second Place Winner: Norseco at the Botanical Garden of Montreal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. In the same vein of the pollinator challenge last year they installed 35 varieties of All-America Selections winners using as many vegetables as flowers to demonstrate the beauty, utility and pleasure of including vegetables in a development of foodscaping. Trellises and climbing structures were installed in the garden then all AAS Winner varieties were clearly marked and accessible.

Third Place Winner: Boerner Botanic Gardens, Hales Corners, Wisconsin. Boerner utilized a trend-setting chevron-style garden design to highlight this year's theme of Foodscaping. A trellis grown with 1991 AAS Vegetable Winner Kentucky Blue Pole Bean and South Pacific Scarlet canna around the base anchored the points of the chevron. In each of the stripes of the chevron, healthy and lush vegetables and ornamentals were grown side-by-side. Artwork broccoli grew as a backdrop to MegaBloom Pink Halo vinca and Pretty ‘N Sweet peppers were accented by Asian Garden celosia.

Each of these contest winners are profiled on the AAS website, under “Display Gardens

A complete collection of photos from all contest entrants can be found on the All-America Selections Flickr and Facebook accounts.

For more information about the contest winners or how to participate in 2018, contact Diane Blazek, All-America Selections.
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