Thursday, January 28, 2016

This 'n That Thursdays: Picks of the Year 2016 (Part 2B)

From The Barnes Foundation

This week is a continuation of last week's garden picks of the year for 2016.  Several organizations pick their favorite selections in multiple categories, so I will focus on their choices today.  The National Garden Bureau has four categories, selecting one annual, one perennial, one bulb plant, and one edible every year.

The NGB 2016 Bulb of the Year is the Allium.  Allium spp. are members of the amaryllis family (Amaryllidaceae), and include both edible (onions, chives, garlic, etc.) as well as ornamental species.  All alliums have tall scapes topped with flowers in umbels, many in a distinctive globe shape, ranging in color from white to various shades of purple.

For their 2016 Annual of the Year, the NGB has chosen the Begonia.  There is only one other genus in the family Begoniaceae besides the begonia (the genus Hillebrandia, which contains a single species and is endemic to Hawaii), but the Begonia genus is comprised of over 2000 species!  Several of these species are popular as cultivated plants, and flower profusely in a variety of colors.  In cooler climates, begonias are an annual frequently used as bedding plants, in outdoor pots, and even as houseplants.

Their impressive tall spikes of blue, purple, pink, or white flowers make the Delphinium an excellent choice for the NGB 2016 Perennial of the Year.  Members of the buttercup family (Ranunculaceae), Delphinium spp. are toxic to humans and livestock, but their height and beauty make them a favorite background plant in perennial beds.

The final NGB category is Edible Plant of the Year, and for 2016 it is the carrot.  A tasty and versatile root vegetable, the carrot (Daucus carota subs. sativus) is a member of the family Apiaceae, which is characterized by umbelliferous inflorescences.  Although the orange color is most familiar, carrots also come in purple, red, white, and yellow varieties.


The Nebraska Statewide Arboretum also has four categories for plants of the year.  These categories include a deciduous tree, a conifer, a shrub, and a grass.

From Long Island Natives

For 2016, they have selected the American Hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana) as the Tree of the Year.  A member of the birch family (Betulaceae), this native tree is small and shrubby with a wide-spreading crown.  The bluish-green leaves turn a scarlet-orange in the fall.

From Ohio Gardener Newsletters


From Longevity Architectural Products

The NSA has chosen the Ponderosa Pine (Pinus ponderosa) as its 2016 Conifer of the Year.  The Ponderosa Pine is a very large evergreen tree in the family Pinaceae, and is the most widely distributed pine species in North America.  Mature trees have distinctive yellow to orange-red bark in broad plates with black crevices.  The tree is often used as an ornamental in parks and large gardens.

From Natural Landscapes Nursery

For its 2016 Shrub of the Year, the NSA picked the New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus americanus).  This shrub is a member of the buckthorn family (Rhamnaceae).  It received its common name of New Jersey Tea during the American Revolution, when its leaves were used as a tea substitute.  This drought-tolerant, nitrogen-fixing shrub has large panicles of white flowers that are attractive to pollinators.

From Hoffman Nursery

The last NSA category is Grass of the Year, and for 2016 the choice is 'Dallas Blues' Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum 'Dallas Blues').  Switchgrass is one of the dominant native grass species in the North American Tallgrass Prairie.  Like all true grasses, it is a member of the family Poaceae.  The 'Dallas Blues' cultivar is an ornamental variety notable for its drought tolerance and tall spreading clumps with large billowing seed heads.


I was hoping to finish this series of posts today, but there is one more organization that selects a number of best garden plants each year, and this post would be way too long if I included all of them here, so I will complete this compilation of plant picks of the year next week.  If you have a vegetable garden, next week's list will be especially interesting for you!

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