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Thursday, April 1, 2004 05:31 pm

And the 2004 winners are. . .


With so many new plant introductions each year, which ones should you try this year? Almost every horticulture industry association or society names a plant of the year. These award programs offer a useful guide to selecting something new and different. The winners, by definition, are plants with outstanding characteristics.

Here are a few herbaceous perennials you might look for this year:

• The Perennial Plant Association has named Athyrium niponicum 'Pictum' the 2004 Perennial Plant of the Year. This hardy low-maintenance perennial Japanese painted fern is one of the showiest ferns for shade gardens. It grows 18 inches high and as it multiplies, creates a clump that is more than 2 feet wide. Pictum produces 12- to 18-inch fronds that have wine-red stems with soft shade of metallic silver-gray. See www.perennialplant.org for a complete list of award winners.

• The American Hosta Growers Association has proclaimed 'Sum and Substance' as the 2004 Hosta of the Year. Sum and Substance is one of the biggest and most popular hostas in the world. Stiff leathery leaves are chartreuse to gold. For best leaf color, plant in partly shaded area. In midsummer, lavender flowers are supported on 3-foot stalks. Sum and Substance can reach 6 feet in width. For more information, see www.hostagrowers.org.

• 'Primal Scream' daylily was named the 2003 Stout Silver Medal Award Winner by American Hemerocallis Society. Primal Scream's tall, erect stems support 7 1/2 inch orange-tangerine colored flowers. Gently ruffled flower petals are pinched along the midribs, and flatten near the tips. Introduced in 1994, Primal Scream reaches 34 inches in height. See other award-winning daylilies at www.daylilies.org.

• All-America Rose Selections is a non-profit association that has been testing new rose varieties since 1938. Winners undergo a rigorous two-year evaluation in test and public gardens across the U.S. This year, there are three winners. 'Memorial Day,' a hybrid tea rose, produces fragrant, 5-inch ruffled, pink-with-a-lavender-wash blooms. This upright, rounded, well-branched bush grows 5 feet high, and has very good disease resistance. 'Day Breaker,' a floribunda rose, produces 4-inch, yellow-blending-to-pink and apricot blooms. This moderately fragrant rose grows 3 feet high and has very good disease resistance. 'Honey Perfume,' a floribunda rose, produces 4-inch, apricot-yellow blooms. This spicy fragrant rose grows 3 1/2 feet tall and is resistant to rust and powdery mildew. For more information, see www.rose.org.

What's in bloom

Have you noticed what is in bloom?

Star and saucer magnolias, forsythia, maple trees, daffodils, hyacinths, reticulata iris, and crocus just to name a few.


Branch removal

The city of Springfield's branch pickup program begins Monday, April 5.

Here's the skinny:

• Each section of the city is divided into four sections. Each section gets two opportunities to have their branches picked up at the curb. Branches in Wards 2, 4 and 5 will be picked up in April and August; Wards 6 and 7, May and September; Wards 1 and 3, June and October; Wards 8, 9 and 10, July and November.

• Residents are asked to place branches at the curb -- in front of the home in the city right-of-way -- no later than the first of each month. (Don't put branches in alleys; keep them away from fences, power lines, water meters and overhanging limbs.)

• City residents also have the option of dropping off their branches at the Southwest Facility on Recreation Drive at no cost. The facility is open 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Mon.-Fri., and 7 a.m.-noon Sat. beginning Saturday, April 3.

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