I doubt many Rant readers will be checking back on my February Perennial of the Year post, so I want to bring this new response to that long-ago rant to the fore. It is from John Friel, a member of the Board of Directors of the Perennial Plant Association. I’m guessing the post was just brought to his attention or it came up during a google.
– Elizabeth, you skipped a crucial stage in “how the magic is made:” A committee does indeed select a short list and send it as a ballot to the members. But that short list comes from a longer list nominated BY the members.
– firefly, for our Mission Statement, click on “About Us” and you’ll find the following: “A professional trade association dedicated to improving the perennial plant industry by providing education to enhance the production, promotion and utilization of perennial plants.”
– Elizabeth, you make an excellent point about Scabiosa ‘Butterfly Blue’. It’s not as reliably hardy nor as trouble-free as originally believed. But it performs very well in many areas. Seven years after it was Plant of the Year, it’s still a big seller industry-wide. No promotion lasts that long if the plant doesn’t work.
– It’s not really all about promotion. Yes, the PPA is an industry association, and most of our members need to keep the bottom line in mind. But we’re not all mega-growers, or even plant sellers. We also count as members many educators, students, garden writers, photographers, plant breeders, designers, and representatives of public gardens and arboreta.
– Do you want an exciting new plant, or a proven reliable plant? Choose one. Introducing new plants is wonderful, invigorating, profitable and essential. But promoting a hot cultivar that hasn’t been tested thoroughly, and/or can’t be found at retail anywhere, is a great way to disappoint gardeners and damage credibility.
– Thanks for the loan of the soapbox. Love this site.
Thank you, John. So, any personal nominations for perennial of the year? I just planted geranium Rozanne, which was the PPA’s choice for 2008, and have a few thriving hellebores (2005). As for a new one, I love the new orangy heuchera strain, whatever it’s called.