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2006 Perennial Plant of the Year

2006 Perennial of the Year

By Jean Atkinson, Richbar Nursery

Each year the Perennial of the Year committee nominates four perennials worthy of this award. The members of the association- growers, garden centers, garden designers and horticultural educators then cast their vote and select the Perennial of the year. And the winner for 2006 is … Dianthus gratianopolitanus ‘Firewitch’, or commonly known as ‘Firewitch’ Cheddar Pink.

The plants selected for this top honor must meet the following criteria.

Be attractive throughout the gardening season. Dianthus’Firewitch’ has both distinctive foliage and flowers. The bluish gray leaves reach a height of 3-4 inches tall and form a low mat. The flowers are lacy, bright purple to magenta pink and bloom for weeks in mid –spring. They also appeal to your senses with their spicy fragrance. You can encourage more flowers by shearing off the old blooms for a second flush of colour in summer.

Be suitable for a wide range of climates. This hardy Cheddar pink grows well in the Cariboo as it is hardy to zone 3.

Be easy for gardeners to grow. This sun- loving perennial is classified as low maintenance and drought tolerant. It prefers a well-drained soil so avoid planting in heavy clay. It is ideal for the rockery or as a ground cover.

Be easy for growers to propagate. It must come true from seed or vegetative propagation. This dianthus is grown from cuttings making it an inexpensive perennial to purchase. Perennials that are difficult to propagate are in limited supply and therefore more expensive.

This low maintenance little gem looks terrific growing alongside creeping thyme, artemesia, creeping phlox, lamb’s ear and ornamental blue fescue. So if you are looking for easy to grow, attractive perennials check out the list of past winners. The guess- work has already been done.

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