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Exceptionnelle Garden Performance

The views of horticulture experts and gardeners are all taken into consideration in selecting each year’s winners. This ensures consumer confidence in this popular and influential program now managed by FIHOQ.

June 8, 2016  By Dave Harrison

A step into the future! The Les Exceptionnelles® program is officially entering a new development phase thanks to an agreement between the Fédération interdisciplinaire de l’horticulture ornementale du Québec (FIHOQ) and the Jardin Daniel A. Séguin.

This partnership will enable the optimization of program benefits for businesses from all ornamental horticulture sectors and support program expansion while maintaining its values, which focus on neutrality, objectivity and customer satisfaction. This signals an important step for the development of this Québec brand that is taking up more and more space in Québec flower beds and gardens.

Les Exceptionnelles 2016 winners include:

  • ‘Cleopatra’ Canna.
  • Campfire™ Fireburst ‘KOIBID1346’ Bidens.
  • ‘Nonstop®Mocca Bright Orange F1’ Begonia tuberhybrida.
  • ‘Jolt™ Pink’ (intersécifique) Dianthus barbatus.
  • Campfire™ ‘UF12823’ Plectranthus (Coleus) scutellarioides.
  • ‘Mannequin™ Blue Mountain’ Salvia farinacea.
  • ‘Mojave® Fuchsia’ Portulaca grandiflora.
  • ‘Under the Sea™ Fish Net’ Plectranthus scutellarioides.
  • ‘Low Rider’™Alocasia.
  • ‘Autumn Ember’ Begonia.

Point of sale promotional labels and material are available at Horticolor (

And without further adieu, here are the descriptions of this year’s winners, as prepared by Claude Vallée, agr. M.Sc., horticulture professor at ITA Centre d’innovation technologique en horticulture.

Hailing from all over the world, each plant novelty examined by the Jardin Daniel A. Séguin is closely assessed by leading experts.

Their goal is to identify, from among the favourites of thousands of visitors, the plants that have superior garden performance and are therefore worthy of the Exceptionnelles title.

PHOTO 1. Canna ‘Cleopatra’
Height: 1.5-2 m; width: 0.5-1.0 m; exposure: full sun

Irresistible and flamboyant, this magnificent canna stays true to the image of that ancient Egyptian monarch. Its flowers might be yellow, red or bicoloured and its foliage completely green, green with purple marbling or solely dark purple, from which flamboyant red orange blooms will emerge.

This explosion of surprises throughout the summer is what gives ‘Cleopatra’ its distinctive character.

Easy to grow, cannas like nutrient rich soil, heat and water. They can be grown directly in a water garden, but don’t worry; they don’t require such an environment to flourish.

PHOTO 2. Bidens ‘Campfire™ Fireburst’
Height: 25-40 cm; width: 40-55 cm; exposure: full sun

A first for bidens! Splendid tiny bicoloured red and yellow buds that flower all summer. The cultivar’s sterility, which focuses its energy on the flowers rather than the seeds, lies behind its bountiful blooms. Easy to garden, its bushy appearance and warm colouring make ‘Campfire Fireburst’ bidens one of the most versatile plants.

Once established, this new variety is very drought resistant and its nectar attracts a multitude of pollinators, making it an ideal plant to encourage biodiversity in your area.

PHOTO 3. Begonia tuberhybrida ‘Nonstop® Mocca Bright Orange’ F1
Height: 20-30 cm; width: 30-40 cm; exposure: full sun, partial shade

Outstanding, the ‘Nonstop Mocca’ begonia series features dark, coffee-coloured, serrated-leaved cultivars. This series addresses a growing demand for plants with darker foliage and with a palette that adds depth to flower beds along with a modern touch.

The ‘Nonstop Mocca Bright Orange’ cultivar’s brilliant orange, double-flowered blooms grow to a diameter of 10 cm. This robust, well-branched bushy shrub withstands temperature fluctuations.

This plant received a perfect score.

PHOTO 4. Dianthus barbatus ‘Jolt™ Pink’
Height: 40-60 cm; width: 25-30 cm; exposure: full sun

The ‘Jolt Pink’ cultivar is sterile, withstands heat and constantly flowers. Very attractive for pollinating insects, its flowers bloom on long stems and make perfect cut flowers.

This carnation marks a huge improvement over the Sweet William of our childhood, earning it the “All-America Selections 2015” prize.

This is indeed a carnation to rediscover.

PHOTO 5. Plectranthus (Coleus) scutellarioides ‘Campfire™ UF12823’
Height: 50-65 cm; width: 50-65 cm; exposure: sun, partial shade, shade

Thanks to the latest taxonomic modifications, coleus classification has recently changed and we can now find it listed under the Plectranthus genus instead of Solenostemon, which can lead to confusion. This fact having been established does not diminish horticultural interest in this superbly versatile plant and the ‘Campfire’ cultivar gives you the opportunity to fire up your garden beds with an explosion of orange-red rust foliage, borne by a plant with perfect architecture. It performs equally well in shade or in sun. A note of caution should be observed for this cultivar: use may cause addiction!

PHOTO 6. Salvia farinacea ‘Mannequin™ Blue Mountain’
Height: 50-70 cm; width: 50-60 cm; exposure: full sun

The ‘Mannequin Blue Mountain’ sage immediately catches the gaze and points it to the sky. It’s a plant that inspires and calms and that blends equally well with warm and with cold colours. ‘Mannequin Blue Mountain’ is this market’s mealy sage with the largest blooms, thanks to its tetraploid genetics. Mealy sage can adapt to a number of growing conditions so long as they are exposed to sunlight. It blooms constantly, borne by solid stems, attracting numerous butterflies and useful pollinators throughout the summer.

PHOTO 7. Plectranthus (Coleus) scutellarioides ‘Under the Sea™ Fish Net’

Height: 55-80 cm; width: 40-60 cm; exposure: full sun, partial shade, shade

The dark Bordeaux stems and veining of the ‘Under the Sea Fish Net’ coleus provide a beautiful contrast to its lime green foliage range. This solid coleus boasts vigorous growth and deserves to be planted in rest areas or walk-throughs, as the vegetal world’s beauty and precision, reflected in the extraordinary network of its foliage’s veining, must be admired at close range. Easy to grow, this coleus brings a chic, modern touch to garden beds.

PHOTO 8. Alocasia ‘Low Rider’ ™
Height: 45-65 cm; width: 60-80 cm; exposure: sun, partial shade

Horticultural interest in exotic plants has not waned. Visitors to the Jardin Daniel A. Séguin truly appreciated the ‘Low Rider’ alocasia, which distinguished itself with its heavier, robust, very shiny foliage.

This cultivar is perfect for small spaces or cultures out of pots; its upright bearing allows plants to grow at its base. Its more aerial shape also highlights the beauty of its base, where foliage stems interlock perfectly. It sports moderate growth that, as for all alocasia, accentuates with the onset of summer heat. An exceptionally robust plant.

PHOTO 9. Begonia ‘Autumn Ember’
Height: 20-25 cm; width: 25-35 cm; exposure: full sun, partial shade, shade

Here is a rhizomatous begonia with very hot colours! This new item boasts one of the richest cinnamon orange foliages, a bit of an exception for Rex type begonias. The light plays with the warm colours of the slightly embossed and downy leaves, shimmering with a host of unique shades. Of moderate growth, this begonia is a star all on its own but blends in perfectly with warm-coloured plants. This plant is sure to please those who prefer gardens with contemporary hues.

PHOTO 10. Portulaca grandiflora ‘Mojave® Fuchsia’
Height: 10-20 cm; width: 30-40 cm; exposure: full sun

Wow, wow, wow! The ‘Mojave’ series puts this remarkable annual, which had fallen somewhat out of grace over the last few years, back in the forefront where it belongs.

This purslane’s spectacular blooms instantly illuminate flower beds. The ‘Fuchsia’ cultivar, more compact than the other colours in the series, immediately garnered visitor attention at the Jardin Daniel A. Séguin. ‘Mojave Fuchsia’ is perfectly suited to hot and dry locations because, once it is established, it withstands drought.

Popular with pollinating insects, it makes excellent ground cover and can serve as a semi-erect plant in a pot. Purslane flowers can only bloom in full sun; ‘Mojave Fuchsia’ will boost your garden’s energy with its numerous blooms.

Les Exceptionnelles is a brand name registered by the Fondation en horticulture ornementale of the Saint-Hyacinthe ITA. This is a non-profit organization in charge of managing the Jardin Daniel A. Séguin’s gardening school, with its mandate to promote, support and develop ornamental horticulture knowledge in Québec.

Awarded by the public and by experts, this title is given to new horticultural items that stand out thanks to their performance in the garden, their easy care and their resistance to insects and diseases.

This program also results from a partnership that brings together the expertise of four great Québec gardens: the Jardin Daniel A. Séguin, the Jardin botanique de Montréal, the Jardin Roger Van den Hende of Laval University and the Jardins de Métis.

It is coordinated by the Fédération interdisciplinaire de l’horticulture ornementale du Québec (FIHOQ).

Les Exceptionnelles are available at the following locations:

  • Jardineries Passion Jardins:
  • Jardineries Botanix:
  • W.H Perron:

They are also available at all leading Québec garden centres.

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