Pennsylvania Horticultural Society names the 2010 Gold Medal Winners
The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) has chosen five outstanding woody plants as their 2010 Gold Medal plant winners.
Since 1979, the Gold Medal program has recognized plants of outstanding merit, though often underused and they may not necessarily be new to the nursery trade. The winners are chosen for their superb eye-appeal, performance and hardiness in Zones 5-7. They are also judged for their beauty in many seasons, whether it be their foliage, flower or structural form. Gold Medal winners exhibit standards of excellence for hardiness, disease and pest resistance, and ease of growing when planted and maintained as recommended.
The 2010 Gold Medal winners are:
Clethra alnifolia ‘Compacta’ (Dwarf Summersweet)
In the mid-1970s Tom Dilatush, a noted nurseryman and longtime PHS Gold Medal committee member, discovered Clethra alnifolia ‘Compacta’ growing on a New Jersey compost pile. Tom was impressed by its superior landscape characteristics, and his keen observation was reaffirmed 30 years later by the high marks the plant received in the PHS Gold Medal trial. Tom had originally called this plant ‘Tom’s Compact’ but it was shortened to ‘Compacta’. Still the plant is a superior variety of summersweet, displaying darker, glossier leaves and a more compact, denser growth habit than other cultivars.
This “mulch-mound-miracle” is also hardier and more floriferous. What else could you ask for? Oh, yes, it’s also native, low-maintenance, and moderately deer-resistant. Uses include the foundation, border, in mass, the shady container, and the naturalized garden. It is best planted in part sun, but it tolerates all light conditions. ‘Compacta’ grows about 3 ½ feet high by 4 feet wide and prefers well-drained organic soil. Hardy in Zones 4 to 9.
Ilex Red Beauty ‘Rutzan’ (Red Beauty Holly)
As the name implies, this holly bursts into an eye-catching sensation when its berries ripen in the autumn, far outperforming other evergreen hollies. Handsome dark glossy evergreen leaves create a densely branched pyramidal tree. Introduced by Elwin R. Orton at Rutgers, Red Beauty is a result of years of cross-breeding between Ilex aquifolium, Ilex rugosa, and Ilex pernyi. Essentially, it’s half Meserve (blue) holly and half Perny holly.
For berry production, Red Beauty needs a male pollinator; use any of the blue male hollies such as Ilex ‘Blue Boy’, ‘Blue Prince’, or ‘Blue Stallion’ and plant one or two within 100 feet. (When selecting a site for the males, remember that they don’t produce berries.)
Plant Red Beauty in sun to part-sun in well-drained acidic soil. It is best used as a specimen tree or as a well-placed accent plant. It grows to about 15 feet high and is hardy in Zones 6 to 9.
Illicium floridanum ‘Halley’s Comet’ (‘Halley’s Comet’ Florida Anise)
Do you need a head-high evergreen for that shady spot? Look no further. Illicium floridanum ‘Halley’s Comet’ can fill this niche. A deer-proof shrub native to the southeastern United States, Florida anise produces 4-inch-long dark green leaves (similar to Rhododendron), which emit a strong, pleasant fragrance when bruised. Outperforming the species and other cultivars, ‘Halley’s Comet’ has superior characteristics, including improved cold tolerance and faster growth. It’s also a better bloomer, with plenty of large, red, star-shaped flowers that bloom in May and can persist into the summer.
Florida Anise thrives in shady, moist, well-drained soil and tolerates part-shade. Too much sun, though, will cause it to turn yellowish. Hardy in Zones 6 to 9. Steve Mostardi of Mostardi Nursery in Newtown Square, PA, and chairman of the Gold Medal Committee adds, “Another great attribute of this plant is its ability to be tolerant of dry shade once it becomes established in the landscape.”
Juniperus conferta ‘Silver Mist’ (‘Silver Mist’ Shore Juniper)
Juniperus conferta ‘Silver Mist’, is a unique species within a very common genus. This shore juniper is salt-tolerant and well-adapted for the seashore garden. This urban-tolerant evergreen was selected for its dense, more compact growth habit; exceptional bright silvery-blue needles; and robust, versatile demeanor. It is hardy in Zones 5b to 9.
Barry Yinger found ‘Silver Mist’ in a small Japanese nursery and introduced it through Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, Md. He notes, “This distinctive form of the Japanese shore juniper has fluffy bright silver needles on a spreading plant that usually is less than a foot tall. It is extremely tolerant of heat and drought and is best used in a bright, sunny location with excellent drainage.
If planted 2 to 3 feet apart, it will make an unusual ground cover that is beautiful all year around.”
Styrax japonicus ‘Sohuksan’ (Emerald Pagoda Snowbell)
In 1985, a group of plant explorers organized by the U.S. National Arboretum visited some remote islands off the southwest coast of South Korea. On Sohuksan Island, the group collected a distinctive form of the Japanese snowbell with a superior plant habit, large, glossy leaves, and very large fruit. Thanks to the horticultural wizardry of the late Dr. J.C. Raulston, a cutting he carried back to the North Carolina State Arboretum survived and established this tree in cultivation.
Its larger glossy leaves are sun-tolerant, and its large white flowers are highly fragrant. It naturally makes a single-stemmed, medium-size tree attaining about 30 feet in cultivation, growing very fast in its first years and then more slowly.
It grows best in fertile, well-drained soil in light shade with morning sun. It is sun-tolerant, but should not be planted in a hot, dry location. Hardy in Zones 5 to 8.
For a complete listing of plants with profiles and sources, go to www.goldmedalplants.com.