Plant Select’s top performers for 2016

Story and photos by Plant Select® 

Plant Select®, the country’s leading source of plants selected to thrive in High Plains and Intermountain regions, is pleased to announce the 2016 top performing plants as reported by our Demonstration Garden Partners.

Fifty-three public gardens in Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, and Montana participated in the Plant Select Demonstration Garden Partner performance surveys in 2016. These gardens display Plant Select winning plants, providing communities with educational opportunities to discover the plants that grow best in their local environments. To qualify as a partner, each garden must:

  • display good garden design with regular garden maintenance;
  • have a well-planned educational program;
  • provide clear and legible signage with proper plant names;
  • be open to the public year around;
  • and, be at least one year old before applying.

Plants were evaluated on winter hardiness, bloom and foliage quality, and overall appearance and performance on a scale of 1-9. The results are as follows.

Blonde Ambition blue grama grass

Grand Winner: top performer overall

This year’s overall winner is Blonde Ambition blue grama grass (Bouteloua gracilis ‘Blonde Ambition’ PP22,048). Introduced in 2011, this ornamental selection of native blue grama grass was developed by David Salman, founder of High Country Gardens, and owner of Waterwise Gardening, LLC. It received an overall score of 8.3 and was evaluated in 82 percent of the gardens reporting. This is the second year in a row for Blonde Ambition as grand winner.

The following are the top performers in each of three elevation ranges. Scores are based on reports from a minimum of half the gardens in each range. Score and number of gardens reporting follow the winning plant name.

Top performers in the 3000-5500’ elevation range

  1. Blonde Ambition blue grama grass: 8.8/25
  2. Hot Wings® Tatarian maple

    Hot Wings® Tatarian maple (Acer tataricum ‘Gar ann’PP15,023): 8.1/21

  3. Red yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora): 8.1/19
  4. Turkish veronica (Veronica liwanensis): 8.1/19
  5. Orange Carpet® hummingbird trumpet (Zauschneria garrettii ‘PWWG01S’): 8.1/18

Top performers in the 5501-7000’ elevation range

  1. Hot Wings® Tatarian maple (Acer tataricum ‘Gar ann’PP15,023): 8.4/11
  2. Turkish veronica (Veronica liwanensis): 8.3/12
  3. Little Trudy® catmint (Nepeta ‘Psfike’ PP18,904): 8.2/12
  4. Blonde Ambition blue grama grass (Bouteloua gracilis ‘Blonde Ambition’ PP22,048): 8.1/15
  5. Fernbush

    Apache plume (Fallugia paradoxa): 8.1/13

Top performers over 7000’ elevation

  1. Fernbush (Chamaebatiaria millefolium): 9.0/2
  2. Cheyenne® mock orange (Philadelphus lewisii ‘PWYO1S’): 8.7/3
  3. Winecups (Callirhoe involucrata): 8.5/2
  4. Kannah Creek® buckwheat (Eriogonum umbellatum v. aureum ‘Psdowns’): 8.5/2
  5. Denver Gold® columbine (Aquilegia chrysantha): 8.3/3

More information

For more information about the Demonstration Garden Partner program visit the Plant Select website.

Plant Select is a nonprofit collaboration of Colorado State University, Denver Botanic Gardens and professional horticulturists.