Winners of the “Best Ever” 2022 AAS Landscape Design Challenge
Added on 02 November 2022
For the challenge, AAS provided the gardens with recent AAS Winner seeds and plants. The gardens had the option to also incorporate older AAS Winners in their design to illustrate the theme. Gardens were encouraged to generate publicity and hold events to share the story of All-America Selections and AAS Winners.
Gardens are divided into three categories based on the number of visitors per year:
Category I: fewer than 10,000 visitors per year
Category II: 10,001 – 100,000 visitors per year
Category III: Over 100,000 visitors per year
All-America Selections recognizes and thanks the contest judges who are industry experts in the field of horticulture and landscaping:
Jeff Gibson, Landscape Business Manager, Ball Horticultural Company
Ron Cramer, Retired, Sakata Ornamentals and AAS Former President
Barbara Wise, Sales and Marketing Manager, Crescent Garden
A complete collection of photos of all contest entrants can be found on the All-America Selections website.
AAS is proud to announce the following winning gardens from the 2022 Design Challenge:
Category III: Over 100,000 visitors per year
As always, Boerner’s excitement for the AAS Display Garden Challenge shows through their design process and resulting ideas. To demonstrate this year’s theme of “Games in the Garden" they made dominoes with the 'spots' being an AAS Winner plant (seen in photo above). This vision was achieved by taking old cabinet doors and painting them, drilling holes in them, and placing a single plant of Zinnia Profusion Red/Yellow Bicolor in them. It is a visitor favorite! The other games were a chess board made by using Gypsophila Gypsy White and Dianthus Ideal Violet. By visiting the garden’s prop closet, they found giant dice, Pokémon balls, a Jenga stack, Monopoly board pieces, Scrabble tiles and a Game of Life Spinner to finish off the games collection. Vertical elements were added by using a trellis where Bean Seychelles grew. Finally, 12 x 12-inch pieces of plywood were painted in primary colors to create steppingstones that appeared to look like a standard game board. A total of 36 different AAS Winners were showcased within the games and beds.
The State Botanical Garden of Georgia has continued to use the AAS Landscape Design Challenge as an opportunity for UGA students to work in designing and installing a landscape. This year, a student worker organized and facilitated a charrette with students, volunteers, and garden staff to discuss ideas for this year’s theme. The design came from a conglomeration of ideas and signifies half a color-wheel like a spin-the-wheel feature in games such as Twister, Life, Candy Land and others. The lead student also designed a new sign displaying “What’s in Bloom” as seen in the above photo. The “What’s in Bloom” sign is a feature that they will adapt and reuse for seasonal color beds in the future.
Domaine Joly’s horticulture staff wanted to find a way children could play in the garden while also learning about plants. Taking inspiration from the talking flowers in the original Alice in Wonderland, they created a plan. First, they created a “family portrait” of the AAS Winners all together. Then they created a child’s coloring page based on that portrait. Garden staff wrote a short story about a clumsy gardener who mixed up all the AAS Winner seeds when sowing them then asked the children to help find the Winners in the garden. Each AAS Winner was represented as a person describing itself so the child could easily learn, identify and remember them. Each description included the flower color and stated, “I’m a Winner!” All the children who visited the garden were given a copy of the story and coloring page so they could play the game and leave with their own piece of artwork. Both children and adults were spotted playing the game and loving the experience.
Purdue Extension Master Gardener volunteers worked with the local Purdue University Extension office to execute this year’s theme. A variety of games and other challenges were positioned throughout the garden and along garden pathways. AAS Winners were directly incorporated into the games with some of the most popular games being: Spin the Wheel, Dart ball, Tic-tac-toe, Checkers and Kerplunk. The “Spin the Wheel” games were used to help visitors find some of the new AAS Winners in the garden. Eleven new Winners were featured, each had a photo with a brief description on the wheel. Dart ball used a target and plastic golf balls that were covered with strips of hook and loop. The target was placed in the middle of the vertical garden where Petunia Evening Scentsation and Ornamental Pepper NuMex Easter were planted as shown in the photo above. Other games included Tic-tac-toe and checkers where AAS Winning tomatoes were used as game pieces! One adult remarked while playing checkers, “This is a lot more fun than I thought it would be.”
The “Games in the Garden” contest was perfect for this garden, allowing them to showcase the AAS Winners via activities in their Children’s Garden. 2022 was the 60th Anniversary for Horticulture Arts as a community demonstration garden so it was perfect timing to reflect and share the history of what the gardens have provided to the community.
During the celebration, musicians played amongst the AAS Winners while children and families participated in tic tac toe using AAS plants as game pieces. Participants used coloring books (that focused on water wise gardening) and a scavenger hunt (that incorporated locating special and unusual trees, statues of butterflies, dragonflies, the Caretaker and a pollinator house) to truly experience the games in the garden while enjoying and identifying AAS Winners.
Let the “Games” begin! This year’s challenge brought people together to have fun, enjoy one another’s company and enjoy game-inspired landscapes featuring AAS Winning plants. The student landscapes had two distinct groups of game-themes: Classics and Contemporary.
In the Classics group, a Barrel of Monkeys game with monkeys hanging from a beautiful crepe myrtle put a smile on every visitor’s face. The space was accented with Big Duck Gold marigolds and Orange Flamma celosia. The Putt-Putt game contained ramps and putting greens surrounded with Queeny Lime Orange zinnias and Purple Asian Garden celosia. The Battleship landscape utilized the favored Queeny Lime Orange zinnias around the “battleships” created from reclaimed gas cylinders and sheet metal.
In the Contemporary group, the fun and popular Corn-Hole landscape has the playing boards bordered by South Pacific Orange cannas along with more Queeny Lime Orange zinnias and Onyx Red ornamental peppers. The interactive Jenga set was over 5 foot tall and was a big hit with all visitors.
Weston Garden Center’s approach to the challenge was to create 7 different stations, each with a different Game theme and applicable AAS Winners. They encouraged visitors to read the plant tags then, using the clues given, asked them to guess the game. This helped teach visitors about the plants and their English and Latin names in a fun way. Although someone called it a collection of bad “Dad jokes” it successfully met the mission.
Station 1 - “Dungeons and Dragons” used Dragonfly and Red Ember peppers around a castle wall with Galahad Tomato growing out from the castle.
Station 2 - “The Count Counts” (Sesame Street) had a Dracula Celosia in the shade of a Midnight Snack tomato known for its black and blood red fruits.
Station 3 - “Bullfighting” used Escamillo Pepper and other props to give the feel of an arena.
Station 4 - “Roulette” featured peppers of various heat levels including Roulette. Without knowing the proper names of the peppers, eating any of them became a game of chance.
Station 5 - “Pickle Ball” used three varieties of AAS winning cucumbers (Green Light, Parisian and Diva) up the side of a Gazebo with some Pickle Balls hanging among the fruits.
Station 6 - “Duck, Duck, Goose” used the Big Duck collection of Marigolds (Gold, Yellow, and Orange) and paired them with Gooseneck Loosestrife plants.
Station 7 - “The Hunger Games” featured the plants Katniss, Rue and Primrose (names of some of the movie and novel characters) and Sparky Tomato to represent this game.
Participation in the AAS Display Garden Challenge is a highlight of the year for the dedicated volunteers at this garden. In planning, they decided to include a diverse mix of games as well as both old and new AAS Winners planted in a myriad of ways. Since June is the peak for both color and performance in South Mississippi, they planned June as the month to feature all the Games in the Garden. The games were positioned to bring visitors to the main display garden to see the AAS trials. From there, visitors saw the first game (Ring Toss) that played homage to AAS winning vegetables. Nearby, American Dream corn made the perfect ‘corny’ backdrop for their Corn Hole game. Next to that was a tic-tac-toe game using pool noodles for the game matrix and labeled frisbees: a Master Gardener logo (for the X’s) and an AAS Winner logo (for the O’s).
An AAS trivia game was extremely popular with all visitors who were given a card with questions related to the AAS Display Garden. For example, “Which AAS rudbeckia was a 1961 winner?” (Answer: Gloriosa Double Daisy) In order to determine the answer, visitors would have to find these plants in the garden and scan the QR code found on each label. Each QR Code goes to that AAS Winner’s webpage. As an added bonus, visitors who turned in a completed trivia card were presented with an AAS plant to take home. These free plants included Mega Bloom Pink Halo and Mega Bloom Polka Dot, among others. All in, they incorporated 26 ornamental and 18 vegetable varieties as part of the challenge.
When the AAS landscape design challenge theme was announced, the MGA of Tippecanoe began designing their games. At the garden entrance, star-shaped beds took on the life of a Chinese Checkers game. The raised six-pointed beds had each point of the star planted with an AAS Winner representing one color of the Chinese checker marbles: Viking XL Red on Chocolate begonia for red; Evening Sensation petunia for the blue; Sweet Daisy Birdy leucanthemum for the white; Delizz strawberry for the green; Chef Choice Black tomato for the black and Big Duck marigolds and Chef Choice Yellow tomato for the yellow.
Another area hosted the AAS Tomato Scavenger Hunt. Thirteen tomato varieties were used. A mailbox housed clipboards with a list of questions. Hunters used the AAS variety signs to identify the varieties. A sample question: “Which AAS tomato variety would you give to your sweetheart?” (Valentine) This really made garden visitors focus on the signs plus, hunters sampled the varieties as they searched.
There was also a cornhole match located near the American Dream corn patch and a tongue twister competition with the recitation of “Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers” located in the AAS pepper patch. In all, 67 varieties were planted, and hundreds of visitors were educated about AAS varieties. Surplus vegetables were donated to local food pantries and a homeless shelter.
Honorable Mention Winners in each category can be found on the AAS website.
For more information about the contest winners or how to participate in 2023, contact Diane Blazek, All-America Selections.