It may be the middle of winter, but for gardeners, this is the most exciting time of year.
New garden and seed catalogs are arriving, and the dreams and fantasies of gardeners everywhere begin to take flower.
Gardening conferences, along with home and garden trade shows are in full swing, all preparing us for a year of beautiful gardens, lawns and landscapes.
To feed the growing fury, plant growers and breeders, along with specialty plant organizations, unveil their selections for 2016 Plants of the Year.
Many gardening organizations select plants of different categories to feature throughout the year and promote to gardeners everywhere.
This year’s award winning plants of the year are varied and colorful, unique and unusual, representing some of the best in the gardening world.
Here is a look at 2016’s Plants of the Year.
Perennial Plant of the Year
Each year, the Perennial Plant Association selects one perennial variety as its Perennial Plant of the Year.
This year, Anemone ‘Honorine Jobert’ takes the coveted prize.
A tall, white variety of anemone that grows 3-4’ high and blooms in late summer and fall, this plant features large, 3 to 4 inch blooms in pure white.
Deer and rabbit resistant, great for moist areas in full to part sun, this is a stunning and elegant plant for late season bloom.
Curly Fries features thin, twisted and rippled bright green leaves that explode outward like fireworks, growing to about 18 inches wide, making it a lively and fun medium sized hosta.
Curly Fries will take quite a bit of sun, where its color will become even lighter with stunning golden highlights.
Year of the Delphinium
The National Garden Bureau also select several featured plants each year. This includes a perennial, annual, edible crop and bulb.
The Bureau has designated 2016 the Year of the Delphinium, celebrating the towering spires of colorful bloom that make the heirloom stunner a hit with gardeners.
Delphiniums come in many shades of blue, making them highly sought-after by gardeners. They grow well in part shade and some varieties may reach 5 to 6 feet in height.
Year of the Carrot
As its featured edible crop of the year, the National Garden Bureau has selected the colorful carrot.
Fun and easy to grow, even for children, carrots are available in a wider range of sizes and shapes than ever, and in many vibrant colors.
That’s right, carrots are about more than just orange. Many heirloom and newer varieties are available in red, purple, yellow, white and blue.
Make this the year you dive deeper into growing these nutritious crops at home. Try them in containers, straw bale gardens, raised beds and more.
Year of the Begonia
The award for Annual of the Year from the National Garden Bureau goes to the colorful and versatile begonia.
From brightly colored, jewel-like beauties such as angel wings to the massive, metallic spirals and patterns of Rex begonias, these plants make wonderful additions or specimens in sun or shade.
Wisconsin Nursery and Landscape Association selections
Here in Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Nursery and Landscape Association has chosen ‘Hot Lips’ Rose Turtlehead as its featured ornamental plant of the year.
Growing 2 to 3 feet tall and blooming with unusual, tubular flowers in hot pink, this plant is perfect for summer and fall color. Turtlehead prefers moist soil and some shade.
The Association has selected elegant Serbian Spruce as Woody Plant of the Year, for its slender form and cascading boughs. This conifer does well in tough places where it will grow 40 to 60 feet tall at maturity.
Herb of the Year
Chosen as 2016 Herb of the Year, by the International Herb Association, the many varieties of colorful, delicious peppers will be featured all year long.
Try growing some new varieties this year and enjoy their beauty and flavors from summer into fall.