Les Exceptionnelles: Quebeckers’ favourite plants
By Annie Champagne
Eight plants stood out in ‘la belle province’ this year.
By Annie Champagne
Similar to the All-America Selections Program in the United States, Quebec’s horticultural assessment program, Les Exceptionnelles (the Exceptionals) selects six to ten annual plants each year that have stood out for their performance and ease in growing in the assessment gardens in Canada’s northern climate.
For more than twelve years, the program has called upon the public to vote for their favourite annuals from among hundreds of varieties that arrive each year on the market. Thus, between 150 and 200 new arrivals are presented each year in the program’s assessment gardens. At the end of the summer, a committee of horticultural experts ratify the general public’s favourites and crown the winners that will be sold as Exceptionnelles the following spring in Quebec’s garden centres.
The eight annual plants that were selected this year are beautiful, naturally high-performing, resistant to insects and diseases and easy to grow. In addition, the diversity of the 2018 selection is beautifully complementary, both in flower beds as well as in pots.
Discover this exceptional selection that will satisfy gardeners looking particularly for both ease and spectacular results.
Rock ‘n’ Roll Alstroemeria
With the most votes from the public during the last assessment, this alstroemeria can be grown in full sun as well as in partial shade. In addition to its spectacular decorative foliage, when the reddish-orange flowers appear in July, it’s an apotheosis!
Solenia Yellow Winter Begonia
This prolific blooming begonia is particularly well-adapted to growing in pots, as a hanging plant or in the ground. This begonia is even happy inside the house.
‘XXL Tabasco’ Dahlia
This plant was chosen because of its huge flower made up of pointed petals with stripes in tones of orange, yellow and red. Its flamboyant and attractive colour – very flashy – is perfect for attracting hummingbirds.
Bright Lights Double Moonglow African Daisy
This plant’s semi-double flowers bloom continuously throughout the season in all conditions, and its flowers attract pollinators.
Tango Bicolor Cherry Horticultural Pelargonium
The flowers on this pelargonium are edible; they have a slightly tangy taste. They can brighten up your plates by offering gorgeous visual impact in a salad.
Mystic Spires Improved Salvia
This salvia is an inspiration in a large pot; the verticality of its spires is a beautiful contrast with shorter plants. Since this plant is hardy, it easily tolerates droughts.
Tangerine Slice A-Peel Thunbergia Alata
Originally from South Africa, this plant that is poetically called “Black-Eyed Susan” is a climbing plant that is ideal for adding height to an arrangement. Tangerine Slice A-Peel, a Quebec creation, has a two-tone orange and red colour.
Double Zahara Raspberry Ripple Zinnia
Double Zahara Raspberry Ripple has a large, double, two-toned flower that is pom-pom shaped. Its large pink flowers are visited by both bees and butterflies.
Several new developments for 2018!
2018 marks the addition of two new assessment gardens starting this summer: the Jardin Roger Van Den Hende in Quebec City and Montreal’s Botanical Garden. Along with the Daniel A. Séguin Garden, more than one million visitors will be able to vote for their favourite Exceptionnelles throughout the summer season! Another new addition in 2018: tomatoes, chard, basil and even tatsoi will be included in the gardens. Lastly, in the last few weeks, the list of official retailers for the Exceptionnelles has been added online at www.lesexceptionnelles.ca
Are you planning on visiting Quebec this summer? Don’t forget to go and vote at one of the program’s three assessment gardens. Who knows, maybe your “favourite” plant will become an Exceptionnelle next year!
Annie Champagne is the project communications manager at the Fédération interdisciplinaire de l’horticulture ornementale du Québec.
She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.