All-America Selections continues to help home gardeners

Published Jun 17, 2018 at 9:00am

AAS stands for All-America Selections.

The AAS was founded in 1932 and it is a unique national organization. The AAS is the only non-profit plant trialing organization in North America. The organization tests new, never- before- sold plant varieties to help the home gardener.

Volunteer horticulture professionals’ trial plants for a full growing season. Then, only the best performing garden plants are chosen to be awarded with the AAS designation due to their superior performance.

Before AAS, home gardeners had few resources to learn reliable information about new garden varieties.

In 1932, W. Ray Hastings came up with an idea to help home gardeners learn which new plant varieties had good performance. Through the AAS, Mr. Hastings encouraged all seed companies to set up trial grounds, test new plant varieties, and share the news about new vegetables and flowers.

The AAS set up a national network throughout the climates in North America. Then skilled, impartial judges would grow and then assess the new, never-before- sold flowers and vegetables. 

AAS judges are professional horticulturists who volunteer their time. Judging sites come from public gardens, growers, extension agents, universities, breeding companies, and retailers.

There are three types of awards.

The first is the AAS Gold Medal Award. This is given for a breeding designation and is only given once or twice a decade.

The second award is the standard AAS National Winner that is given to an ornamental or an edible plant. This plant needs to demonstrate superior breeding achievements and reliable excellent garden performance.

The third award called the AAS Regional Winner is given to plants that show specific performance in a few specific regions of North America.

There are four types of trials, which include: Ornamentals from Seed, Ornamentals from Vegetative Cuttings, Edibles (fruits and vegetables from seed) and Herbaceous Perennials.

Home gardeners can find out about AAS Award Winners in consumer magazines, newspapers, garden blogs, garden club bulletins, and cooperative extension agents. The National Garden Bureau also features AAS Winners.

Parker F. Scripture Botanical Garden participates in the category one, public gardens of visitors between 0 to 10,000 people. In 2017, the garden received an honorable mention of edible sampling using a combination of vegetables and flowers in a companion planting bed. 

The garden continues to have the All-America Selection bed and will continue to participate. For more tips about gardening, visit our website at http://cceoneida.com/home-garden or call our Horticulture Hotline at 315-736-3394.

Today — Saturday, June 16 — Cornell Cooperative Extension will be have its annual Herb and Flower Festival with classes throughout the day and vendors between 9 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., rain or shine.